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Holly Smith Takes More Than a Win on Day 2 of Royal Windsor

Holly Smith riding Fruselli (c) Royal Windsor

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On Friday morning at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, Holly Smith found out that she had been named to Great Britain’s Olympic Show Jumping Team for the upcoming Tokyo Games—the first female named to the team in 45 years.

She then went out and reaffirmed the British Olympic Association’s decision. Riding the 11-year-old KWPN gelding, Fruselli, Smith topped a 12-horse jump-off (with a blockbuster lineup) in the CSI5* Pearl Stakes.

A field of 25 took on the first international jump-off class of RWHS 2021, the U.K.’s largest outdoor horse show, and the group was dense in quality. Three of the world’s top-10-ranked riders were on the start list, as well as the entirety of the British Olympic Jumping squad (Scott Brash and Ben Maher will compete alongside Smith in Tokyo), and tremendous Irish and American contingents. While Team USA held its final Olympic Observation Event at Rotterdam with half of its Short List, the other half was at Royal Windsor, including Laura Kraut, Brian Moggre, Jessica Springsteen, and Kent Farrington. Another American, Lillie Keenan, took Royal Windsor’s opening CSI5* event earlier in the day, topping the Manama Speed Stakes with Agana van het Gerendal Z.

Ireland’s Michael Duffy called Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR)’s track a “proper four-star grand prix.” Rails fell throughout the course, particularly in the final line, which included a stout triple combination set with a triple bar to a double of verticals. Still, the quality of the field often made the more technical questions appear easy, including a careful plank presented off a rollback turn, which did not fall nearly as often as one might expect. Nearly half the field advanced to the jump-off, including all five Americans, though Moggre elected not to return with Balou du Reventon, saving the stallion for Sunday’s coveted Rolex Grand Prix.

Similarly, Kraut took a conservative route in the jump-off, using the short course to give the sensational Baloutinue additional ring time. Farrington and Keenan, however, turned on the heat. Harry Charles, who will be Great Britain’s Traveling Reserve in Tokyo, set the standard as the jump-off’s pathfinder and laid down a beautiful round aboard the 11-year-old mare, Stardust. The pair certainly put the pressure on, but they also left their competitors a target—36.74 seconds. Smith and Fruselli met and exceeded that standard, deftly leaving out strides left and right and crossing the timers in 35.52 seconds. Keenan and Fasther were on track to catch the pair, but the duo lost some ground on their turn back to the final line of fences. They came up just short with a time of 35.80 seconds and settled for second, with Charles and Stardust third.

“He’s the most honest horse God ever put on the planet,” Smith beamed of Fruselli post-jump-off. “He always tries his hardest for you. I never have to urge him forward. I just release, and he travels.”

Smith has been partnered with Fruselli for four years. Last time out, they took another win at CSIO5* La Baule.

“This horse covers the ground mega-quick,” Smith said. “I nearly went a stride less, and I thought, ‘I better not!'”

Did making the Olympic team give Smith some extra motivation?

“It’s a massive honor [to make the team]. There was quite a bit of buzz [about it] today,” said Smith, who will bring Ian Dowie’s Denver to Tokyo. “In front of a home crowd, I wanted to do everyone proud. It was on my mind a bit!”

Follow Horse Network for wall-to-wall coverage from the 2021 Royal Windsor Horse Show, and be sure to watch the live stream, exclusively on HN LIVE! in North America!

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