Yorkshire born and bred Holly Woodhead made it a second win for a ‘native’ at this year’s Equi-Trek Bramham Horse Trials when she won the Bishop Burton u25 CCI3* title.  Riding DHI Lupison, the Wiltshire-based rider lead from start to finish; adding nothing to a spectacular dressage score of 33.0, a winning margin of over 11 penalties.

HOLLY WOODHEAD riding DHI LUPISON winners of the CCI*** Under 25
HOLLY WOODHEAD riding DHI LUPISON winners of the CCI*** Under 25

The win is Holly’s first ever three day victory and Bramham is now confirmed as her favourite venue which will always hold a special place in her heart having been a visitor since the age of nine.  Victory is also poignant as the horse was owned by her grandfather who sadly passed away last week.

A stunning performance in the dressage set her up well but the rider has a strong grounding in the discipline having represented Britain at the Pony European Championships in pure Dressage.  A faultless cross country round yesterday extended her advantage.

When nearest rival Dani Evans riding Smart Time lowered a pole, Holly was given the luxury of a two fence cushion; “I cantered in and just knew I wanted to jump clear,” Holly said.  And that’s indeed what she did.  DHI Lupison showed no signs of the rigors of yesterday and jumped an immaculate round, giving every fence plenty of room.  As the young rider cantered to the finish, the crowd erupted to signal the victory.  Dani also secured third place with her 2013 runner-up, Raphael II.  Millie Dumas and Artistiek pulled up to fourth spot went to Emily King and Brookleigh.

A surprised Holly said; “Yesterday I admitted that I’d never felt so nervous but today I was surprisingly calmer today.  I was really please with him; he jumped exceptionally and felt like he wasn’t going to touch a thing.  He tried his hardest and now we have our first three day win; I still can’t quite believe it and I think it will take a long while to sink in.  It’s my grandad’s funeral on Monday and I can go there with a smile on my face. He was certainly looking down on me today.”

Dani was proud of her two rides having had a tough start to the season when her yard was essentially locked down due to an outbreak of the highly contagious equine virus Strangles and the 23 year old thought her season was at an end before it had even begun.  Even when she was cleared, she found herself struggling for form at the big occasions so to have two horses in the top three shows her resilience.

Dani commented; “Both the horses have been ‘on it’ all week which makes my job easier and I couldn’t be happier with them. I walked the (show jumping) course and it was big, square and technical…which didn’t suit me!  But they both jumped really well; I’m cross with the two time penalties on Raphael and the fence down on Smart Time was totally my fault.  If it was going to be anyone to beat me, I couldn’t be happier that it was Holly!”

Both riders were quick to thank the help provided by the World Class programme and in particular Yogi Breisner, Gill Watson and Peter Murphy.  Plus of course their ‘amazing families and support crews’.

Holly has her sights on a place in the British team for this year’s Young Rider European Championships in Poland while Dani is hopeful of securing one of the 12 spots on offer for the Senior squad at the European Championships at Blair Castle in September.

Full results – click here

Rider interviews – click here