Arkins achieves at Grand Prix

NEW South Wales rider James Arkins won The Elms Grand Prix at the Sale Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.

Conditions at the Sale Showgrounds were ideal, with riders and horses tested by the Gavin Chester-designed course.

No rider went clear over the full course in round one.

Ten riders took part in the second round jump-off, with 22-year-old Arkins, riding Rosthwaite Vigilante II; and fellow NSW riders Sharon Slater, on CP Aprilla, and Chris Chugg, on Cristalline, all going clear.

Arkins won the event from Slater, Victorian Brook Dobbin and Chugg.

Local riders Andrew Lamb, riding CP Argenton, finished in sixth place, while his wife Ally, riding Diamond B Corsica, came ninth.

After his win, Arkin described the course as testing, but rideable.

Arkins had won a World Cup qualifier at Tamworth, NSW, on another course designed by Chester. “I am happy with Gavin’s courses,” he said.

The grand prix champion was full of praise for the event, saying riders enjoyed coming to Sale.

Arkins has ridden for Australia with youth teams in New Zealand. Trainer Vaughan Jefferis, a former world champion, chose his NZ-bred gelding.

Arkins has been selected to take part in Olympic team trials and is considering a move to Europe to ride next year.

The grand prix was the feature event of The Elms Spring Jumping Classic, hosted by the Sale and District Showjumping Club.

Several local riders rode well over the four days, with Melissa Backman, riding Blackall Park Coloe, winning the six bar event on Thursday, jumping 175 centimetres. Backman also had a second placing on Friday, with Courtney Shears finishing third in the same event.

In the Sapphire Series, Ally Lamb won division one and Zoe Boulton won division two. Lamb also won the Sapphire Championship.

Sarah Hair, riding Splashes, won Sunday’s 100cm championship.

In Sunday’s Future Stars event, Boulton finished third and Olivia O’Connor fourth.

The young rider championship was won by Shears with Teagan Chester third and Backman sixth.

The Spring Classic will always be special for Kane Chester and Ash Kummer marrying just before the Grand Prix.

Normally at such events in their riding gear, Kane and Ash and their wedding party looked glamorous, and received a great reception from the big crowd.

Thirteen-year-old Mikayla Semmens, riding her pony Apple and carrying the Australian flag, rode on to the arena to sing the national anthem. She also received warm applause from the crowd.