JULIA Helm made a winning return to the British Showjumping National Amateur and Veteran Championships after a mad dash from Heathrow Airport.
Helm, who lives in Shrewley Common in Warwick, won the National Minor Veteran Championship at Aintree International Equestrian Centre with her homebred horse Helms Rossio.
However, Helm only just made it to the venue in time to compete in her first class after a delay to her flight in from the United States of America.
Helm said: “It’s my first year as an old bird so it was nice to win a Veteran Final.
“I’m a full time IT manager for NFU Mutual Insurance and I was actually supposed to stay in America, but they let me fly back early.
“The plane was an hour late and we landed at Heathrow at 10am and I legged it up the motorway in a taxi.
“I wouldn’t even let the taxi driver stop for a toilet break – he had to run into the Equestrian Centre when we got there – and luckily, they were running half an hour late, so I just made it in time for my first class.”
Helm and 15-year-old Helms Rossio, who won the National Amateur 1.05m final last year, overcame 32 competitors to claim victory by 0.28 seconds.
Helm added: “He jumped lovely in the first round and felt on good form in the jump-off.
“I knew I’d have to be quick and I got a good, forward rhythm from the off – my Mum said I was almost parallel to the floor on the turn to the last line.
“The final distance was a forward six strides and that’s what I planned and was counting the strides but realised I was too quick and on five strides, so had to pull for an extra one to the last, the well-named ‘Plank of shattered Dreams’.
“We’d knocked them down the day before, but he really helped me out and twiddled his legs over them clear.”
Alongside her job, Helm is mother to a six-year-old and two-year-old toddler and has nine horses and a pony at home.
She said: “I’m lucky to have a lot of support; my husband is babysitting for the week and my Mum drove Rossi up the day before, so I missed all the high winds and stormy weather.”