It was sunny weather ahoy at Aston Le Walls to kick off the event season for 2015.
Whilst both the first phases were based on all-weather arenas it was certainly not required with near perfect ground being found on the cross country.
Top honours in the BE100 Open section went to schoolgirl Poppy de Groot on Spot On XII who finished on her dressage score of 27.8, just point 2 of a penalty ahead of Royal Holloway student Georgina Wood on Symmetry who commented: “I’ve owned her for five years in May and she’s not been the easiest! For our first season I fell off her every month for a solid eight months but we’ve come together now. I’m just hoping to continue the good form!”. The pair capitalised on their dressage score to finish the testing cross country course five seconds inside the time.
The course did cause a few problems for both the experienced and those newer to the sport. Several combinations ran a bit too fast against the time and others picking up faults at the double of corners at 5 or the water combination at 10 which compromised a cylinder brush in before run in and out of the water followed by a log on an incline.
In BE100 section C top honours went to Georgia Bartlett on Munro Highlander with Katy Webb on Gorgelyn Persian Emperor following in second. Katy is aiming for the Pony Trials circuit this year in conjunction with her GCSEs. This is her second season with Welsh section D, with Gorgelyn Persian Emperor: “he’s only 14.1hh but he thinks he’s a horse” commented Katy, “we just wanted a quiet run to start the season so it was a bit of a surprise! But it was nice to know that the work over the winter paid off”.
Full time Commercial Manager Victoria Linfield on Joker’s Promise took top spot in BE90 section H by a whisker after finishing just 0.1 penalty point ahead of second place Sam Bennett and Oscar’s Point. This was their second win after Rackham BE90 last season. Joker, who was described as “a bit special” by his rider was originally destined to be a driving horse and is proof that Warmblood or Thoroughbred breeding is not a requirement for success. Victoria Linfield has help from Sam Penn who she credits as having been ‘instrumental’ in getting the combination to this point; “I am now starting to think about a first 100 run…. But will need to find some ‘brave pants’ beforehand!”. Victoria has four to event this year as well as a having a full time job, so we look forward to hearing her “how to make time” recipe due to arrive at a bookshop near you in the near future.
BE90 section J went to Victoria Ingles with her horse Silver Spoon II who added nothing to their dressage score of 27.3. They are heading off to Badminton for the third time for the BE90 championships before moving up to 100 level. “The course rode well and the going was brilliant…but I think it was a challenging cross-country course for the first run of the season” commented Victoria. Third place in the same section went to Jane Bettles on her friend’s Gold Rush IV (stable name Bubbles) who completed on their dressage score of 30. Jane has had the ride on Bubbles since last year after she was offered as a substitute to her horse who was off-games with an irritated fly bite. Jane still hasn’t quite got round to giving the ride back however. The pair are certainly on impressive form at the moment having been placed at both the 90 Jump Training and JAS finals. Bubbles is now on the back burner since Jane has qualified her other horse for the Badminton Grassroots championships – EWW wish her the best of luck.
Things to Know Before You Head to Aston
-Beware the moving cross-country start: It will never be where you think it will be and if you have not quite left an ideal amount of time to walk the course it will be located at the furthest point away from the lorry park. Fact.
-Whilst the All Weather Dressage is wonderful, warming up is packed tighter than teenagers at a One Direction festival. Take studs and use the grass.
-Expect to eat a lot of food. Somehow Aston always has the best food options across the whole of the central event season. Avoid if on a diet.
-If your horse is going to misbehave it will naturally do so in the direction of at least four Badminton winners.
-Aston is addictive. The quality of the courses and the going combined with the number of times the event runs means it is possible to run for 3 consecutive events without noticing.
Report by Sophie Rothbarth