Report by Binny Bennett
Tanzy Lee Photographed all 3 days of action so a huge thank you to Tanzy for all the great photos!
Jonty Evans smiles for every occasion but in the evening sunshine at Aldon he had good reason to. Following on from his win in the Open Intermediate class at Aldon 2 in October, Jonty and Cooley Rorkes Drift had just won the main, Advanced Intermediate Section at Aldon 1. “I love him, he has a great brain” was what Jonty had to say about Fiona Elliott and Anne Nobbs nine year old gelding and adding, with a twinkle in his eye, a hope “that selectors will look favourably for Brazil” with Rio now only a year away. Jonty also added that Cooley Rorkes Drift is “learning to open out” which allowed him to go within the time on the cross country. “Beating Avebury was brilliant” he quipped in recognition that after the dressage and show jumping they were lying in third place 0.4 behind a Badminton winner, Happy Times and Sam Griffiths, and 0.3 behind the three-time Burghley holder, Avebury and Andrew Nicholson. However, on their first outing of the year both of these nursed their way around the cross country.
When receiving the Aplin Horse trophy for the Advanced Intermediate Section the Irishman was quick to thank Gareth Hughes for his help with the dressage and Ros Morgan for her help with the jumping. He also added that his association with this horse derives from the most unlikely coincidence. Formerly ridden by his owner, Fiona Elliot, Jonty came across them on the Fosse Way after Fiona broke down following the Young Horse Championships. Jonty stopped to help and took Cooley Rorkes Drift back to his yard as a better alternative to a broken down lorry but then “never gave him back”.
Also culminating in the Sunday evening sunshine was Open Intermediate Under 21 Section U. This was won by Emily King, Mary King’s daughter, on Miss Michelle Clough and Zara Porter Hill’s Loxley, a new ride for Emily having previously been with Amanda Ross in Australia until the beginning of this year. Emily described him as “fun genuine, lovely” but also as a “hothead”on the cross country adding that he had only just settled in the head. She also explained how it has taken him a while to adjust to the british seasons coming directly from Australia. This was only their third event together but towards the Autumn she hopes to be able to move up to three star level with him.
Earlier in the afternoon three further Intermediate Sections were decided. Intermediate Section R went to Dassett Eventing’s Kate Rocher Smith riding Dassett Saratoga ahead of Andrew Nicholson and Lily Bradstock, daughter of the recent Cheltenham Gold Cup winning trainer. Dassett Saratoga “is talented in all 3 phases and has a brilliant attitude to life” and this promising start to the season is in stark contrast to the pulled hamstring that kept him out of competition for the first half of 2014.
Open Intermediate Section T was won by Jonelle Price on ‘The Marley and Me Syndicate’s Cloud Dancer II, “Flashy on the flat with a scopey careful jump” but “very much a diva, quite the personality” with Andrew Nicholson again taking second.
In Open Intermediate Section S, Jonelle took second behind Pippa Funnel who enjoyed a comfortable victory on her own and Marek Sebestak’s Second Supreme.
In the late morning, 24-year old Lauren Innes took CIC* Section Q on her own Monarchs Larko. Now seven, Lauren has had him since he was three and she hopes to now go at Intermediate level and to the Seven Year Old Championships at the end of the season. However the Oxford and Reading graduate is also looking for a job and one activity may interfere with the other.
Prior to this the teenagers were all up early on Sunday morning with Taggy Forester -Bennett winning Open Novice Under 18 Section O on Bonza Moorabinda, owned by triple Olympic Champion Matt Ryan. Holly Needham winning the pony trial on her own Barana Snow.
Hannah Bickett was this years winner of the Ellicott Trophy which is awarded to the combination closest to the xc optimum time, when I spoke with Hannah she said “I really wanted to win the Ellicott Trophy, my horse very rarely show jumps clear but he’s quite fast across the country so this is what we aimed for, we did our dressage on Saturday and we had a really disappointing score so I didn’t think we where going to get placed, he jumped a super double clear inside the time, so I’m absolutely delighted to be placed 3rd over all as well” Hannah also won £250 of training vouchers with Rodney Powell which she is really looking forward to using after she does her A Levels, Hannah and Mr Spiritus are now aiming for their 1st Intermediate at Somerley Park.
Below Hannah is presented the trophy by Elouise, Sienna and Florence Bragg.
Holly Needham winning the pony trial on her own Barana Snow.
In addition to the eight sections decided on Sunday, fourteen were held previously thanks only to the help and hard work of the officials, volunteers and riders, a task made easier by three dry days. In October, at the opposite end of the season, the same team will reconvene for the ever popular three day long format sections, and an inaugural CIC** at Aldon, with the same local charities supported including St Margaret’s Hospice and the RNLI.