Beautiful Belton? Brilliant Belton? What superlative should be used to described the first ‘big B’ of the year – The Belton International Horse Trials, held in the stunning deer park of Belton House, by the kind permission of The National Trust. In it’s 37th year of running and 13th year of BEDE Events at the helm, it was a record crowd to watch one of Britain’s leading lady riders scoop the feature prize.
The sun soaked crowds we treated to a world class display of equestrian sport across the three days of competition this weekend. It was the Lycetts Grantham Cup and the first leg of the Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam that everyone had come to see and they were in for a treat with the first British winner since 2012. Izzy Taylor and KBIS Starburst lifted the dual trophy class in a closely fought CIC3* class, narrowly beating 2014 winner Sir Mark Todd and Olympic ride Leonidas II into 2nd place with early leader Piggy French staying within a penalty of Taylor, in 3rd with Quarrycrest Echo.
“I’m delighted with this win,” commented Izzy Taylor. “KBIS Starburst has had nearly two years away from competition, and he does get nervous in an atmosphere of which there is plenty here, but I’ve worked hard on that and couldn’t be happier with his performance this weekend.”
The Belton win gives Izzy the first leg of the 2017 Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam, where one rider could walk away with a whopping £50,000 for winning any 3 out of the 5 CIC3* included in the series. With 3 horses entered in the Barefoot Estates Burnham Market Leg 2 in a matter of weeks, all eyes will be in Izzy to see if she can jump one step closer to the £50,000 pay day.
Among the host of high profile winners was a young rider on flying form this season and certainly in the category of ‘one to watch’ this season – Imogen Murray certainly had a ‘Gooden’ at Belton with a a win in the u25 Advanced classification with Ivar Gooden.
“I still can’t quite believe how well this season has started for me!” explained Imogen. “After knocking on the door in his last two events with two second places it was great to finally pick up the win. I was really pleased with the way he went over what was quite a testing track. He made it all feel so easy and hacked round for just 2.8 time faults, which turned out to be very quick! He feels the best he’s ever felt this year so I’ve got everything crossed for Badminton.”
Belton in bullet points:
Belton is ‘so much more than just horses’ with over 90 tradestands for the public to peruse there certainly wasn’t a chance of getting bored.
Praised was lavished on organisers Stuart and Anna Buntine and their team for another splendid event – save for the queues to get in and out and the lack of a paper programme. The groups of owners and spectators glued to phone and tablet screens was a strange sight to behold in such a stunning surrounding. Further praise was also echoed for Beau Woods testy show jumping course and Captain Mark Phillip’s and Stuart’s ‘tough and technical cross country’ that ran on excellent going, much to the competitors delight.