World number 1. Oliver Townend and, 2017 Burghley CCI4* winner, Ballaghmor Class deliver a class performance to secure top sport at Burgham International Horse Trials, in the Newton Hall CIC3*.
The reigning 4* winne,r who fell foul of the Aachen CHIO water a fortnight ago, held fifth after dressage with a score of 27.8, but rose up the order with a perfect clear round in the showjumping and an effortlessly and fast cross-country performance for just 1.2 time-faults.
“That showjumping round was possibly the best I have ever done at an event,” said Oliver. “He needed a run to sharpen him up a bit, and the ground was so good that we were able to exactly what was needed. This was the perfect preparation for whatever the autumn brings.”
Eleven-year-old Ballaghmor Class is on the short-list for Britain’s team for the World Equestrian Games, and is also entered for Burghley again.
Oliver also won the Howard Russell Construction Ltd CIC2* with Stephen and Victoria Hazeldine and the Mitchell Fox Group’s Treglider, finishing on his 25.7 dressage mark.
“I’ve had him since he was a four-year-old and we liked him a lot from the word go,” said Oliver. “He’s lovely to work with and is very athletic.”
The dressage leaders Nicola Wilson and One Two Many took second place in the Newton Hall CIC3*, having collected a handful of time-penalties in both the showjumping and the cross-country. And Northumberland-based Ben Hobday was third on Ciletto H.
“I say ‘jump’ and Ciletto H says ‘how high?’” said Ben, for whom this was his best result of the season so far. “He digs deep for me all the time and allows me to ride him fast.”
Izzy Taylor dropped from first place to second in the CIC2* with Kilderrys Cougar Girl after adding four penalties for one showjump down to her dressage score of 23.7.
In the Metnor Group CIC*, dressage leaders Piggy French and her fiancé Tom March’s six-year-old Emerald Jonny led from start to finish, adding just 0.4 of a cross-country time-fault to a stunningly good dressage score of 17.9. The 18.3 finishing score gives them a record breaking finish at Burgham and also the best international finishing score of the 2018 season.
Emerald Jonny’s owner Tom March said: “I thought watching his dressage test that it would get a good mark, but that score was something very special. He’s enthusiastic and keen to get on with his job, in a good way – he likes to learn.”
“It’s been a fantastic event – we had outstanding entries and, having worked very hard on the footing for the horses in preparation, the rain was able to get into the ground and it meant that the going was perfect and everybody was able to run as competitively as they wished,” said Event Director Martyn Johnson. “We are very grateful to our sponsors, our landowners and everybody who has put so much into making Burgham such a special event.”
Australia’s Paul Tapner and Bonza King of Rouges made it two in a row with a win in the MS Amlin Eventers' Challenge at The Hickstead Royal International.
With it appearing that the draw had been seeded with the reining champion last to go, Paul 'Taperz' Tapner was feeling both the heat and the pressure. Some of eventing's leading ladies had set some blistering times towards the tail end of the class with Britain's Georgie Strang leading, having pipped Ireland’s Elisabeth Power (the 2016 winner) by just 0.09sec.
The 'elite amateur', as he so describes himself, knew exactly what he needed to do and shaved more than 4sec off the leading time to become the first back-to-back winner of the MS Amlin Eventers’ Challenge.
“I’ve had the last 12 months to prepare myself. I knew exactly how fast I went last year and I knew exactly how much faster I was going to go, and how many fewer strides or extra strides I was going to do between various fences. It was that calculated,” said Paul, who who combines competing with his job for the Event Rider Masters series.
Runner-up Georgie Strang produced a super round with Cooley Earl, who was having his second attempt at the class. “It felt amazing, I didn’t think I’d come second as there were some very quick rounds. I thought the only way I’d win it would be if Paul knocked one down.”
Yorkshire’s Nicola Wilson heads the field in the Newton Hall CIC3* class at Northumberland’s premier equestrian event, Burgham International Horse Trials, after the first day of dressage.
Nicola, part of Britain’s gold medal-winning team at the 2017 European Championships, scored 24.9 on Gerry and Mary Kemp and Janine Shewan’s One Two Many, giving her a two-penalty lead over local competitors Bella Innes-Kerr and Carolyn, second on 26.9.
Nicola and the 16-year-old One Two Many won Burgham’s CIC3* class in 2015 and finished second in 2014.
Les Smith, president of the ground jury which judged the CIC3* tests, said: “We only awarded one ‘nine’ today [each movement in the dressage is scored out of 10] and that was to Nicola for the extended walk. Her test was very consistent; the horse has naturally good balance in the canter and a fabulous walk.”
World number one Oliver Townend brought his pair of CCI4* winners – Ballaghmor Class, who took Burghley last year, and Cooley Master Class, victorious at Kentucky this spring – to Burgham to prepare them for their autumn targets. Ballaghmor Class lies third in the CIC3* on a mark of 27.8, while Cooley Master Class is sixth in the Howard Russell Construction Ltd CIC2*.
The CIC2* is led by Sarah Bullimore, who scored 25.1 on Christopher and Susan Gillespie’s seven-year-old mare Quimira. Oliver Townend is just behind her in second with Tregilder on 25.7, while Irish Olympian Aoife Clark is third with 26 penalties aboard Celus D Ermac Z.
In the Metnor Group CIC*, another Irish rider, Susie Berry, is in pole position with a stunning score of 19.9 with Fernhill G, a seven-year-old owned by Sue Wilkinson. This gives Susie a healthy lead at this stage over Italy’s Giovanni Ugolotti, second with 23.3 on Swirly Temptress. Third is Nicola Wilson once more with 23.6 aboard Drumnconnell Toto Wolff.
The sport of eventing gained a new audience this week, courtesy of the inaugural London Capital & Finance Osborne Horse Trials. An estimated 5,000 spectators enjoyed both the spectacle and the scorching weather over the two days. In a first for the Isle of Wight, mainland-based event riders made the journey to one of the most beautiful settings imaginable for a horse trials – Osborne House, former royal residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and now under the guardianship of English Heritage.
Presented as a showcase event, a specially designed and shortened dressage test with a compact show jumping arena, where spectators were almost within touching distance of the horses as they performed, provided a new stage for the elite riders.
World Number One Oliver Townend dominated proceedings taking both first and second place in the headline Grand Prix class on Thursday. Short-format specialist Cillnabradden Evo took the win and with Mitsubishi Motors Badminton runner up Cooley SRS taking second place.
“I came here in part for the prize money of course, but also to give the horses a non-pressurised run. The shortened dressage was a nice test that they hadn't performed before, and the jumping phases were well within their scope, so it was all about the amazing atmosphere created by these wonderful spectators which gave it such a special feel,” said Oliver, mission accomplished with a total of £17,000 heading his way for these two placings.
Oliver was also victorious on the opening day of competition, winning the second class (and £4,000) aboard Black Tie II, who was having his first run for 12 months.
“I've only ridden Black Tie four times since he's been back in work because I've been away so much. The girls at home have done a great job – and he's such an old pro now, he knows what he's doing, though it was a tough enough cross country course with the terrain and the way it had been roped.”
The opening section saw super Swede Ludwig Svennerstal pocket most of the prize money. Fialotta bagged £4,000 for the win and Fit For Fun Raa £2,000 for third place. Ludwig's horses were separated by Emily King's Quinlan Z.
“Osborne House is a very exciting new venue, and it's good to have proper money to compete for,” said Ludwig. “It's nice to see so many people here spectating. It could become a great event.”
Not all the competitors had travelled over on the ferry; the Isle of Wight boasted its very own Sarah Holmes, who raised the proverbial roof on completion of her clean sweep of clear showjumping rounds. Her progress across country could be followed by listening to the cheers from the crowds. Three double clears rewarded Sarah with sixth, ninth and 10th places.
The man of the moment, Oliver Townend, summed it up from his perspective. “I was blown away when I arrived and saw the venue – I've got nothing to say about it but positives. We've enjoyed ourselves; it's been like having four horses on holiday. We've eaten at fantastic restaurants every night and I've been with my best friends. Events that can provide prize money like this make a big difference to the lives of professional riders like me.”
Athletes – human and equine – are at the heart of the feast of top-class equestrian sport that is the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials (13-16 September). The event is therefore delighted to welcome three new sponsors who will be supporting its endeavours to offer them and their owners the best possible facilities.
Clarendon Fine Art is supporting the Marlborough Pavilion, SsangYong Blenheim Palace’s main ringside hospitality facility which has the palace as its backdrop, and will be showcasing some of its superb artists there and on its stunning trade stand.
TheraPlate, who make therapeutic “power plates” for horses, are sponsoring a collecting ring-side lounge for owners, coaches and athletes. Here they can watch final preparations in style with a glass of something cold and bubbly – or a hot cup of tea.
Moorgate Finance, one of the event’s cross-country fence sponsors, will be entertaining riders and owners in their exclusive hospitality area. They are planning to provide all riders with an individual photograph of themselves soaring over their bespoke “Moorgate Flyer” fence, and are looking forward to discussing how they can help with finance so that aspirations of new horseboxes, arenas or other equine “accessories” are achievable.
These new additions to SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials 2018 will complement the Voltaire Athletes’ Lounge, which offers riders a place to relax and regroup between phases and let their hair down in the evenings, and the complimentary bedding from White Horse Bedding and feed provided by Dodson & Horrell for the equine stars.
“The organising committee are extremely grateful to our sponsors who invest in the event and in so doing help us to finance the provision of facilities for our stakeholders. We are sure the riders, horses and owners will be appreciative of their involvement,” said Event Director Mandy Hervieu.
Visit www.blenheimhorse.co.uk to book tickets and for further information.