Charlie Jones (GBR) took top honours in Sunday’s $15,000 MarBill Hill U25 1.40m Grand Prix to cap the U25 division at Thunderbird Show Park’s 2023 Canadian Premier week.

When asked how he came to be here, from his native Warwickshire, England, the nephew of Olympic gold medalist Nick Skelton replied with a smile “Well, I met this girl…”

Jones, 24, and 8-year-old Montserrat are now based out of Calgary, with fellow international show jumper Bretton Chad (the girl) at Stone Ridge Farms.

They had the luck of the draw on their side, going last in the nine horse jump-off. With only three double-clears in the second round, leaving the rails up already put them in the top three. Stopping the clock in 39.15 seconds put them three tenths of a second ahead of runners-up Virginia Bonnie (USA) and Heldorado on their 39.43. Canadian Lexie Ray finished in third with Cara 199, on a clean round and time of 42.17.

“[Montserrat] was right on it today. He’s a small horse so it’s not always so easy, but he has a big stride. He’s really sweet and is one of my favourites because he just is really hungry when he goes in a jump off. He really wants to win.

“He’s just eight, I’ve had him for a year. He’d done a few 1.30m classes in England as a 7-year old, and then we bought him from there. We competed here last year, and he won the 7-year-old Final here and then was second the next week. So he just loves that field!”

The 1.40m Grand Prix was the final class in the week-long U25 division presented by MarBill Hill. Marion Cunningham and Bill Tilford of MarBill Hill Farm in Bradford, Ontario are big proponents of Canadian young riders and since 2017 have supported the U25 Young Riders Development series with competitions at Angelstone, Ottawa and Caledon (all Ontario) in addition to here at tbird.

“The U25 division is just a fantastic division,” remarked Jones. “You need it from when you’re coming out of young riders, especially to the age of 25. It’s a big step to go straight into CSI5* grand prix and big classes. So it’s a really good division to have at the 1.40m level, with good prize money. And this is one of the biggest tracks my younger horse has jumped to date as he’s just moving up to this level. Big thank you to MarBill Hill for this division.”

$15,000 MarBill Hill U25 1.40m Grand Prix

Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / Rd 1 Faults/JO Faults:Time

1. Montserrat OS / Charlie Jones / Stone Ridge Farms / GBR / 0/0:39.15
2. Heldorado / Virginia Bonnie / Nina Bonnie / USA / 0/0:39.43
3. Cara 199 / Lexi Ray / Rider / CAN / 0/0:42.17
4. Ielinea JTL / Jaydan Stettner / Rider / USA /. 0/4:38.45
5. Carquilot / Francisco Pasquel Vega / Rider / MEX /. 0/4:39.69
6. ESI Jet Set / Carly Stevens / Grant & Susie Stevens / CAN / 0/4:40.84
7. Cabablue / Patricio Pasquel JR / Rider / MEX / 0/4:41.7
8. Texas / Justine Cha / Christine Cha / CAN / 0/4:44.27
9. Dustin 254 / Aren Ozker / Rider / CAN / 0/4:45.79
10. Pesto Adelheid Z / Lily Van Elliot / Yvonne Van Duin / CAN / 1:83.58