When Chris and Janet Badger announced their retirement and put Crown Farm up for sale in June of last year, pangs of sadness were felt around the eventing community that this much loved venue and fixture would be lost from the calendar. Further sadness was felt when the cross country fences were put up for sale and found themselves heading off in different directions to private homes and other venues. However jubilation came when the news that a new owner had been found and that Ascott Under Wychwood Horse Trials would run again.
In the safe hands of Felicity Hook their first event under new ownership seems to have been a hit! With praise lavish upon them from every direction Ascott Under Wychwood's new team have certainly galloped into the 2017 season and set the standard for many more events to come.
With the British weather not seeming to know whether it is Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter at the moment, it was pretty much sub-arctic at Ascott Under Wychwood, however despite the biting wind, the sun shone and the going and courses, were perfection.
Following the sale of the previous course, Chris Badger returned to his former home to re-build the new course alongside Charles Etherington-Smith, giving the venue a new look and feel for the new era of ownership.
Laura Ridout and Lates Flash provided the first win Ascott's new season, in the BE100, finishing on their dressage score of 23.30, repeating their Ascott Under Wychwood success from June 2016, where they also won on a score of 23.
Isabella Sevilla-rebelderia went one better, and 9 better of 2nd place, to win BE100 section B on an astounding score of 22, 9 points clear of Lucinda Eaton and Talent Chocamiceter on 31. Isabella not only produced a personal best dressage to win, but also her first FOD (Finished On Dressage) since her first event with Tawnmore Tyran at Aston Le Walls in March of last season.
With a theme of low 20s starting to appear, section C was won by Lottie Kennedy and HS 365 UCS De Dior on their 24 dressage score, 7.1 penalties clear of Francesca Brough and Ferdi III in 2nd place.
It certainly wasn't all plain sailing with the new courses catching a number of combinations out around the course, with a double clear inside the time being not overly common.
BE90 section G was a slightly closer affair with Amelia Bambra and Carnsdale Show Man coming out on top, adding just 2 cross country time to their 27.3 dressage to finish on 29.30, ahead of Sam Gillespie and Easier Said Than Dun on 29.8.
Annie Bellamy and Hera S picked up the winners cheque in section H on their 29.5 dressage, just ahead of Amy Struthers and Hotshot GN on 31.5.
Sara Ridgway and SKA Buachaill Mor made a winning step up to BE90, producing a personal best dressage of 25.8 and double clear inside the time to win by a margin of 4.8
Gallery below from Dave Murray