Norton Disney

23rd & 24th October

Norton Disney?s inaugural fixture was a resounding success and has gone straight in at number one on my list of favourite grassroots events. Hosted by Joint Organisers Ros Canter & AprobantaJoe and Alizon Weller at White Hall Farm near Lincoln it ticked all the boxes; great courses, good going, convenient layout, friendly volunteers, entertaining commentary ? and delicious cakes!

Ros Canter & Aprobanta

Local rider Ros Canter won the opening section, a BE100, riding Judy Bradwell?s five-year-old mare Aprobanta, the combination?s third win on the trot and fourth out of five runs this season. ?She?s a dream horse really,? Ros enthused. ?She?s very laid back without being lazy, and very straightforward. She came over from Holland this summer having had a foal as a four-year-old and done a bit of show jumping. I think she?d been cross country schooling once. She is now co-owned by the Copestakes and will eventually go to Constance to do Juniors on, but she should be with Judy for a couple of years yet which is good for me!

?She made nothing of the course, although I thought it was one of the toughest BE100 courses I?ve ridden this year. It was a fantastic course, and really fun to ride.? Ros is now heading off for three weeks to work for veteran Spanish show jumper, Luis Alvarez de Cervera. ?I?ll be working in the yard but hopefully get some riding and training in too ? and it will be warmer than Lincolnshire!? she added.

Thirteen-year-old Harriet Gloag was also in the money, logging her third win of the season on Arctic Flynn, who tops the Foundation Points Top 20 for horses ridden by Grassroots Riders. Bought a couple of years ago from Yorkshire, where he had literally just hacked across the moors Harriet Gloag & Arctic Flynnfor six years, Flynn won at his very first attempt, a BE80(T) at Stafford last year. ?He?s been absolutely fantastic,? Harriet?s mother Tor said. ?Harriet will do some show jumping over the winter ready to try and step up a level next season, and if all goes well have a go at Ponies.?

Harriet Gloag & Arctic Flynn

Charlotte Wood and Ice Cool Lad were the relatively comfortable winners of the BE100 Regional Final, having achieved top 10 finishes at most of their runs this year. The pair posted the only sub-30 dressage score to which they added nothing in the jumping phases for a four point advantage over runners up Alyson Parker and JJ Malone. The Junior BE100 also produced some good dressage scores with the top two completing on their first phase marks; Jessica Baugh and Zaras Last Star finishing on 26.5, Beth O?Driscoll and Alfie XI were on 29.5.

Pippa Gloag came close to matching her twin sister Harriet?s result, taking the runner up spot in a BE90 on dressage leader Abbisfields Royal Sovereign ? a rail down giving William Scott an opening to move ahead on Jupiter III. Pippa’s ex-dressage pony has really taken to eventing, Tor describing him as, “awesome across country. Sadly he’s for sale because Pippa has a youngster to produce and you can’t do everything – although the girls are really lucky with their school. They weekly board at Malvern St James and the headmistress lets them have time off for training and really encourages their competing. The courses were perfect for the end of the season. You could have been riding a pony ready to upgrade or one new to the level because of the alternatives, and it was really helpful to have a couple of combinations in the BE100 with three jumps in a row, with the third part separately Alyson Parker & JJ Malonenumbered – so clever of the designer.”

Alyson Parker & JJ Malone

Other weekend winners included Elizabeth Albert who was having a first outing on new ride Last Sunday, Hayley Crofts and Margaux Herinckx.

While the majority of horses jumped clear across country, it was no walk in the park for those taking all of the direct routes, and there were more than a handful who didn?t make it to the finish line. The fences were challenging but they were also confidence boosting and encouraged forward riding. With an impressive number of time consuming black flag alternatives it meant that direct routes could be up-to-height and testing, with the less experienced still able to complete by taking these long routes.

Despite this there were a few tumbles. Alex Postolowsky made an unscheduled dismount when Stanhopes Travelling Man ducked out at the Corner, fence 6, while Ruth Holroyd went over Dolce Far Niente?s head when the mare stopped abruptly at the first element of the Log & Drop, fence 8. Both riders remounted to complete. On Sunday there was a lengthy hold when Robyn Carter fell on the cross country course at the Picnic Table, fence 6, at the same time as Rebecca Fallows fell in the show jumping arena; both needed to be taken to hospital and there was an inevitable delay until an ambulance could be back on site. We understand that Constance Copestake & Risque Rooneyneither rider suffered serious injury.

Constance Copestake & Risque Rooney

Not only had Joe Weller built all of the show jumps himself, his cross country courses were beautiful ? ?proper? fences, immaculately dressed and presented. The terrain was relatively level so man-made undulations had been added to improve the topography, providing steps and a bank.

?We wanted to make everyone who rides here feel really important,? Joe said. ?Dressing the fences properly and stringing the tracks (yes, the entire track was strung) is all part of that. I?m lucky because I have all the necessary stakes from working at events such as Houghton ? so why not use them? I?m thrilled with how things have gone ? we are getting amazing feedback from competitors. Looking forward I am hoping to get a water complex put in this autumn but I need to sit down and count the pennies first ? it will cost around £5,000, but all being well, will be there for next year. I?m also looking at building a Novice course in the not-too-distant future ? from next year I will have more land back in hand so we?ll have plenty of space available.?

Among the feedback to date are comments such as, ?What a superbly run event – fantastic going, super fences, great lay out? now we know you are only an hour away from us, we might come back BOTH days next year!?; Angus Smales?definitely the best dressed jumps I have seen of the BE90 and 100 courses all season, it was a lovely course which rode brilliantly?; and ?Thank you very much for putting on such a wonderful event today: very well planned (everything convenient to the competitors) and organised (scores came up fast), nice cross country course with beautifully dressed fences which asked questions and a pleasant but professional atmosphere – a perfect end to the eventing season for many. What a debut. Congratulations?. High praise indeed.

Suffering the after-effects of a hunting fall, Commentator Angus Smales – or should that be Smiles?

It was a great end to the 2010 season with lots of very happy looking competitors, supporters and volunteers. Even a typo in the event programme seemed appropriate; joining Henry Symington behind the microphone in Control was none other than Angus Smiles.

Report + Photos Hilary Manners

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One Response to Norton Disney

  1. gsdjj says:

    A fabulous event, well run, beautiful jumps which reward the bold horse but allow others to “get round” by taking the longer routes, without suffering mishaps. Definately on the calendar for next year!!!