Top marks to the Plant Team at The Equi-Trek Stafford Horse Trials who battled the elements to pull off a fabulous event. Earlier rain and bitterly cold winds didn't deter the organisers, officials, merry band of volunteers and a host of riders, from competing across the weekend. Some 15 fences were moved for Sunday's competition to provide competitors with the best available ground, in addition to fresh ground for dressage arenas and an extended show jumping arena - not an easy task after two long days of competition and less than ideal weather conditions.
The organisers had clearly thought of everything - a focus on the facilities/ground, great prizes and awards for local riders, and a particularly nice touch - a message board for riders to express their thanks to the volunteers that make the sport possible.
The Bit UK caught up with the lovely Franky Reid-Warrilow, following her BE100 win with Dolley Phantom:
"All I need to say about this incredible horse is she is going to be one to watch, I think she could be my next GB horse! The event was great, really nice flowing course with some good questions for the more experienced horses but alternatives available too. I've been taking my babies there for the last 3 years for their first runs. So great to have the catering inside too at this time of year, a real light bulb moment from the organisers!"
Oliver Townend has certainly been a busy boy this weekend, with top placings at Lincolnshire Horse Trials on Friday, followed by a hat-rick of Open Intermediate wins on Sunday, he slotted in a visit to Stafford on the Saturday with four horses in the BE100. It was just the one win for Oliver on Saturday with River Warrior in section K on a sensational 24.5! Saturday's win means that Oliver has produced at least one victory at each event so far this season, with a grand total of 10 wins, from 38 rides, across 4 separate events - that is an impressive 26% win rate this season so far, and an even more impressive 68% of his rides finishing in the top 10!
Rachel Andrews got get 2017 season off to a good start with 6 year old Gonzo, to take the win in BE80(T) section A with a 22.5 dressage and double clear to finish 5.5 penalties clear of the field.
Hannah Parr and Tinker's Boy produced a personal best dressage of 30.3 to sit in 3rd place after the first phase, then producing a double clear inside the time to move into first place and that the win in BE80(T) section C.
Michelle Patrick and 10 year old Dream On Porsche finishing nose and tail ahead of the field in BE90 section E with a personal best dressage of 23.0, adding just 2.4 time penalties across the country to finish on a three phase sure of 25.4 to take the win.
The good dressage scores continued in section G with Giovanni Mereu and Darby Day Dancer leading from the start with 22.3, to take the win with 25.1, after adding just 2.8 cross country time penalties.
Tyler Cassells had a great trip to Stafford with two BE100 wins in section L with Francesca Du Domaine R, finishing on their 25.5 dressage and in BE100Plus section P with Serenade III finishing with a double clear on 31.3. Cassells other two BE100Plus rides also finished in the top 10 with a 5th for J Adore Salsa and 9th for Currabawn Minx
All photos (c) of Hannah Ray - Photography By HR