Sponsored by Symm for the 8th year running and held by kind permission of Mr & Mrs Urs Schwarzenbach on the Culden Faw Estate Hambleden put on yet another spectacular event with a few new developments that certainly hit the spot. Renowned for it's beautiful scenery and of course the famous bluebell woods, the event has gone from strength to strength over it's 20 year run.
Like a number of events embracing the technology revolution, Hambleden produced a digital program, but this one read like an electronic book so was far more user friendly than anything we have seen before, with a paper version also available for those that prefer the traditional paper version! The embracing of technology didn't stop there for Lisa Hughes and her team, with cross country fly over videos courtesy of drone videoing were a resounding success over social media, showing the courses off in all of their glory.
The weather this year added to the attraction, but also caused more work for organiser Lisa Hughes who had the ground spiked and watered with thousands of gallons every evening to maintain the good going. Several riders expressed their gratitude for all the work done to the ground and praised the organisation for a well run and friendly event.
A popular attraction in the trade stands was Havoc & Hustle the tiny young Shetlands, owned by the Hughes family who were put to work and successful in raising money for "Riding for the Disabled" (Wyfold Group).
The feature class, the International Novice CIC* was split into two sections. British young rider Bubby Upton, produced her 4th win of the season and 2nd win with Eros DHI. The Suffolk based pair lead from start to finish with a 33.4 dressage, ahead of an international field of Olympians and 4* winners. Following a clear round show jumping the pair had 7 penalties in hand heading into the final phase. With not many coming home inside the time around this twisty course, Bubby and Eros added 10.4 penalties from the cross country phase but still managed to hold the lead, finishing on 43.8, ahead of Adam Harvey on 45.8.
Team GBR's Gemma Tattersall won the 2nd CIC* section with Billy Hopeful. Again the pair lead from start to finish, holding a commanding lead all the way through. Finishing on their 39.7 dressage score the pair completed 8.3 penalties ahead of 2nd placed Brook Staples.
Following the international feel, Japanese Olympic rider Yoshiaki Oiwa took the win in Novice section H with Chantelle 2, adding just 2.4 time to their 22.3 dressage score.
The Advanced Intermediate saw a 1,2 finish for leading Irish lady rider Aoife Clark who produced a win with *** partner Fernhil Adventure on a 38.3 score, adding 8.4 time to their leading 29.9 dressage. Second ride Colorfast II was hot on their own heels, finishing on 39.7, adding 7.2 time to their 32.5 dressage to move up to 2nd place.
Anna Horton and Melissa Joannides came away with Intermediate wins, in two highly competitive sections. Anna Horton and Classic Affair produced their best Intermediate dressage, of 24.1, to take their first win at that level. Similarly it was a PB for Melissa and In Vogue II, producing a 23.4 in their first phase. They went on to add 8.8 time to finish on 32.2, ahead of Tom Jackson and Court Casper on 35.6.
BE100 Section C was extremely tight at the top with Melissa Pollett and Kathy Staples both finishing on their 28.8 dressage scores. The win was eventually given to Melissa and Little Jim, with Kathy and Ideal Foxs Castle having to settle for 2nd place. Owen Cooper and Danthos Utopia sat just 0.5 behind them on 29.3, also finishing on their dressage score.
Daisy Berkeley had a good trip to Hambleden with a double BE100 win with Caroline in section E, finishing on 25.8, adding just 0.8 time faults to their dressage score and finishing 4.5 penalties ahead of the rest. Daisy also produced a win in section A with another sublime dressage of 23.5 with the 7 year old gelding Electoral Role, who produced his 2nd BE100 of the season.
The stand out 100 win has to go to Richard Wakeham and Amyture O who produced a person best dressage of 19! In a very competitive section, in which the top 10 all finished on sub 30 scores, with the top 7 all finishing on their dressage scores, the pair, finished 2.3 penalties clear of Gemma Tattersall and Glensensaw Sweet Girl on 22.3.
It is a well laid out event, with the lorry park being central to the arenas & xc. The sj held in a large arena had a testing course designed by Mike Benfield which caught out several competitors across all sections. Chris Hughes designed a beautiful if a bit tricky xc course which asked quite a few questions which resulted in some competitors falling foul!