In decisive style, Georgia Knight, 19, of Victoria, BC, and her mount Onyx captured the win in the $5,000 MarBill Hill U25 1.35m class Wednesday afternoon at Thunderbird Show Park—their very first U25 competition together.
Topping a field of 25 young riders from Canada, the United States and Mexico, including many experienced riders, Knight bested the ten who advanced to the jump off by nearly three full seconds. Having spent most of her riding career competing in the hunter ring, Knight is still working on speed, especially in such an expansive ring as the Fort Grand Prix Arena, and admits to recently having had time faults in more than one jump-off round.
“I always feel like I’m going much faster than I actually am,” laughed Knight following the awards presentation. “Onyx is owned by Joelle Froese and we’re leasing him. He’s jumped some big classes in his life. When I got him a year and a half ago, I had only been jumping at 1.20m and he’s brought me right up to the 1.40m. So he has a very special place in my heart. He’s taught me a lot.”
The final fence in both rounds was the MarBill Hill oxer, and course designer Meghan Rawlins’ placement of it right in front of the in/out gate very nearly tempted 18-year-old Onyx to exit stage left.
“Galloping to the last fence in both rounds, I could feel Onyx eyeing the in-gate, not really getting his eye on that last fence. Fortunately I was able to get him paying attention.”
The pair will compete in two more MarBill Hill U25 classes at tbird as part of the MLSJ Canadian Premier week of competition, once in Friday’s 1.40m class and in the $15,000 Grand Prix on Sunday. Their ultimate goal is to compete in the international U25 final at tbird this September.