March Eventing Round Up
A month beset by the 'Beast from the East' - that's the Beast 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. Cancellations causing chaos and abandonments aplenty.
With Eventers and eventing enthusiasts around the country counting down the days to the season started, Mother Nature had other ideas. Event's were dropping like flies! "Isleham always runs" were famous words banded around event yards and equestrian venues around the country...then the news came that even Isleham had cancelled. With access cut off by snow drifts there was nothing anyone could do.
Back to bed eventers, season delayed by a week!
Eventing finally gets underway!
The Tweseldown team were triumphant in their battle against the Beast...well for Thursday and Friday anyway.
Irish Olympian Austin O'Connor got the season off to a winning start with his own Gonzalo, the only combination to finish on their dressage score (28) in Novice section I.This super 7-year-old finished the 2016 season with a 15th place at the 6-year-old Championships and will now step up to Intermediate level follow a confident start to the season.
2017 Badminton Champion, Andrew Nicholson produced a 1, 2 finishing in the Advanced-Intermediate with Swallow Springs taking top honours (39.5) ahead of Badminton winner Nereo who completed on 44.8.
Sadly the beast bit back on Friday night resulting in Saturday and Sunday's competition being abandoned.
For many, the event season finally started at Oasby! The event near Grantham kicked off on Thursday 8th March with a sprinkling of Novice and 100 sections. The ground was good and held up during the day despite on and off rain.
Lizzie Baugh, who competed at the Young Rider Europeans last year to finish 9th, took her homebred ‘B Exclusive’ for the Open Novice (B). She led her section for most of the morning, adding just 7.2 time to her 32.8 dressage in a competitive section. Lizzie said ‘I’m so pleased with him today, especially considering he hasn’t actually been cross country schooling due to the weather! He jumped amazingly all day. He seems to have carried on where he left off”. Finishing 8th, Lizzie aims to run him alongside ‘Quarry Man’ in some young rider trials this year, finishing the season at 2*. Oliver Townend took 1st on ‘Coldplay III’, the only rider not to add any cross-country time penalties.
Francesca Fitzherbert won the Open Novice (A) aboard ‘Hartpury Take it 2 The Top’. Francesca was one of only a few to be within the time, only adding penalties to her 29 dressage, by taking a pole in the showjumping. “He is just getting better and better” said Francesca “I have had him 3 years and this was our first win! We are aiming to step up to Intermediate at Weston Park and progress to 2* by the end of the year”
The professionals dominated the Novice sections with Piggy French, Nicola Wilson and Oliver Townend taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd retrospectively in Novice (C).
With Tweseldown and Oasby losing the battle with the beast it was down to Poplar Park to carry the torch for eventing across the weekend.
Despite several snow drifts still remaining the Hardwick team had done an incredible job in preparing the venue despite the less than perfect conditions. Dressage arenas rode like surfaces, the show jumping had regular rolling which made the going fantastic and the cross country was super - especially for those that had spent the winter months hunting.
Following a last minute rider substitution local rider Lisa Clarke-Spence rode Temple Rexton to victory in the BE80, coming home just 2 seconds over time to complete on a score of 32.6.
2017's leading Foundation Points & Mitsubishi Motors Cup League winners JJ Malone and Alyson Parker picked up where they left with a win in the BE100. Leading from start to finish the pair produces a 25.3 dressage to win by 5.1 penalties.
Leilia Paske took the ONu18 win with Fernhill First Friend as the only combination to complete on a sub-30 score, adding just 4 faults from the show jumping to their leading dressage score of 25.5. Lucinda Crawford made the trip down from Scotland to finish 2nd on Ballintoher Harry, producing a double jumping clear but adding 6.8 time penalties to a 27 dressage.
Equine vet, Samantha Cutts took top honours in the Intermediate riding her homebred mare Piccola Diavola. A 34.3 dressage, followed by a double clear left them in contention. The 2nd fastest Intermediate cross country round of the day sealed the deal with a win on 37.5.
Sadly delays in the Intermediate and deteriorating weather resulted in part of the Novice being abandoned due to bad light.
Stafford and Swalcliffe were early casualties in the week 3 battle against the British weather.
Aldon International made a valiant effort enabling the BE100 and Novice sections to run, however competition was later abandoned with the CIC* and Intermediate sections being lost.
Lincolnshire had previously been in the firing line from the worst of the weather but pushed ahead, giving many riders in the area a much needed run. A large number of withdrawals resulted in relatively small sections however riders praised the efforts of the organising team and the ground conditions.
Imogen Murray lead Novice section F from start to finish with SJL Convince Me, winning on a score of 31.7.
"She was really good and absolutely flew round the cross country which I was really pleased with as she’s still relatively inexperienced and there were a few things she hadn’t seen before. I feel like we’ve spent the last few weeks playing Eventing roulette, will they or won’t they run!! But the going was fantastic today considering. Hopefully she will step up to Intermediate soon with the aim of the 7yr old champs in the autumn."
Finally a bit of normality and a full event for Great Witchingham International and Munstead.
The stand out result of Munstead's two days has to be Lisa Pilbeam with Oldtown Tango. Producing a 13.8 dressage, in a section which saw scores rise to 49, and a double clear, they added just 2.4 time penalties to win on a score of 16.2. A winning margin of 7.31.
Piggy French is on flying form this season, already taking a commanding lead at the top fo the British Eventing rider rankings, following three wins at Oasby, the British team rider took the CIC*, BE100open and 2nd in the OI. The only rider to finish on their dressage score in the competitive CIC* class, Graf Cavalier produced a 28.0 dressage to take the win ahead of Georgina Wood and Del Piero II who completed on a 31.4.
With Badminton bound horses looking for early season runs it was no surprise to see so many entered in the Intermediate, OI and AI sections. Simon Grieve and Drumbilla Metro got their early season campaign underway with an OI win. Double clear left them completing on a score of 36.1, just ahead of Matthew Wright and DHI Paparazzi. Confidence giving double clears were also seen for Tom McEwen and Toledo De Kerser, Caroline Powell and On The Brash and waitlisted Brendonhill Doublet and Imogen Gloag. Ivar Gooden and Imogen Murray produced a clear cross country but had an uncharacteristic pole in the show jumping.