Regular readers of the blog will remember we highlighted Hunter Valley II in our Top Improvers piece, which spotlighted horses with impressive improvements across multiple Key Performance Indicators in 2017. Not only did Sammi Birch’s homebred ‘Gizmo’ improve in the 2017 season, he blew his 2016 season out of the water. Look at this comparison between 2016 and 2017 …
2016 – Completion Rate 57% | Clear Show Jumping Rate 20% | Top 5 Rate 14.3%
2017 – Completion Rate 100% | Clear Show Jumping Rate 50% | Top 5 Rate 50%
In 2016 he capped his season with a disappointing elimination at Boekelo. Contrast that to 2017 when he ended the year with a top five finish in his CCI4* debut at Pau. Their worst dressage mark of the year came on their first outing – 44.6! There were lots of potential aussie horses that could make the list but Gizmo was our standout.
Sammi and Hunter Valley II started their 2017 international season at Belton CIC3*. A 44.6 in the dressage, their first clear show jumping round in a calendar year, and 4.4 time penalties (only 0.8% made the time) saw them finish a respectable 14th out of 99 starters.
Then it was on to Bramham, familiar territory for these two having completed their first CCI3* as a combination there in 2016 with a strong 4th place finish. It is becoming one of their go-to events! In 2017 their dressage score of 41.6 marked their personal best for the season (and their best score since Bramham the previous year) to sit 4th after the first phase. Adding 3.2 time penalties on cross country on a downpour of a day when only one pair (Nicola Wilson and One Two Many) made the time moved them up to second place. Show jumping proved extremely influential with only five pairs jumping clear rounds, and while one rail down cost Hunter Valley II the Bramham win (to another #ERHOTY17 nominee Calle 44) that doesn’t diminish his 3rd place finish on 48.8.
20 jumping penalties in the Event Rider Masters at Blenheim was a wobble and it was a brave call to step up to make a four star debut at Pau off the back of it! They started off on the right foot in France, with a respectable dressage of 42.0 placing them in 10th position after dressage. Problems peppered cross country day with only two pairs making the time, and Hunter Valley II‘s clear round with 8.8 time penalties moved him up to 5th. A clear round over an influential show jumping track saw him finish 4th at Pau in his first four-star on a final score of 50.8.
Hunter Valley II completed all four of his international runs in 2017 for a 100% completion rate, a significant improvement on his 56% completion rate in 2016. His dressage scores never crept out of the 40s this season, and he only knocked two international poles all year to tie for the third best show jumping clear rate of our 12 #ERHOTY nominees. Will the aussie vote carry Gizmo through when the polls open tomorrow?
Listen to the #ERHOTY17 episode of the Horseware Eventing Podcast to hear how we finalized the list of 12 nominees. Keep checking back to the EquiRatings blog for analysis articles on all 12: fischerRocana FST, Nereo, Arctic Soul, Horseware Hale Bob, Ballaghmor Class, Bulana, Hunter Valley II, Donner, Cekatinka, Calle 44, Ivar Gooden and Foxwood High.