Sarah Wells-Gaston reports ….
Despite torrential rain and copious amounts of mud, it wasn’t enough to dampen spirits at Bicton Arena International Horse Trials, where more than 500 combinations competed in 15 sections over four days.
Will Rawlin and V.I.P Vinnie took victory in the CCI3*-S (Section B). They added just 0.8 time faults to a dressage of 24.0 giving them victory by 6.4 penalties. Louisa Lockwood finished second with Fernhill Aldo with Ali Wilkes and Social Butterfly rounding out the top three.
Lucca Stubington was the victor in the CCI2*-L (Section A) on the nine-year-old Quingenti finishing on their dressage score of 30.20. The professional event rider, who is based in Northern Ireland, runs her own yard alongside a breeding programme with her mother Georhgina, a former Irish eventing team rider. After leaving school, Lucca based herself with Chris Bartle and then spent a year working for Nicola Wilson before setting up on her own.
She said: “My mum sourced Quingenti as a foal from a local racing yard, and as he was still entire, we had planned to keep him as a stallion to event and eventually breed. However, at four years old he was too small so he was castrated. Last year was his first year properly Eventing and he finished off the year by winning the Novice National Championship. This year I did one event on him and then I got injured in a fall off a young horse and had to take three months away from competitions. Clare Abbott rode him for me while I was off, placing second in a novice and winning his first ever intermediate. I took him back and did a few novices and intermediates. He won his last run in Ireland in an Open Novice and then went to Bicton. I was hopeful to do well last week but never imagined I’d win! He rides like a big pony, he loves to gallop and jump and if you get the jump in front of him, he’ll do it! He’s also a bit of a showman, so loved the big arena and being beautiful at the trot ups. It was just incredible to end on such a good note after a very disrupted and frustrating year. I hated being off injured and then it took time to find my fitness again and get back to riding the way I had been. He is actually for sale but I really don’t mind keeping him and we’ll aim to do a CCI3*-S at the beginning of next season.”
Max Warburton finished second with NPS Elegance with Harriet Mitchell and Iceman III in third.
The Dutch took the top three places in CCI2*-S* Section C with Merel Blom on Giant Prospect BB finishing ahead of Willemina Van der Goes-Petter on Fulco with Bjinse Venderbosch and Vesuve D’Aveyron in third.
Merel commented: “My horse was fine, but the wind caused a fence to collapse, so we had to wait while they rebuilt it. I was worried about the ground cross country, but I was really happy that they moved several fences. They did such an amazing job on the course. I had an easy ride, and I took my time at the difficult fences. It was a good round.”
Alex Holman and Carrick Diamond Bard came out on top in the CCI2*-S Section D, which was run for six and seven-year-old horses. They finished on their dressage score of 31.3. Twenty-two-year-old Alex is from a non-horsey family and started riding at nine-years old after watching International Velvet.
Alex, who is based in Gloucestershire, told Eventing Worldwide: “Bicton is one of my favourite events, so it was even more special to get my first ever eventing win there, and in an international class too. I fund everything myself, through my business, which can be pretty tough, so it’s amazing to have had an international win purely through hard work and determination.
“Carrick Diamond Bard was meant to be for sale for a client at the end of last year, but he didn’t sell, so I managed to find a part-owner, Janet Coe, and keep the ride for myself. He only started competing BE this year, and has certainly proved his worth, placing at BE100, Novice, Intermediate-Novice, Intermediate as well as now winning at 2*. Hopefully he’s a very exciting horse for the future as he is just seven-years-old. I’m so proud of his progress, and how he dug deep in the difficult conditions at Bicton. I can’t thank my team, owners and sponsors enough for all they’ve done for me this year. It will make my winter a lot easier having ended on a great win, and leaving so much to look forward to for next year, especially as our result secured his 3* qualification.”
Dikon Reader and Tempest Wick finished in second place with Vittoria Panizzon and Chatter on finishing in third.
Millie Toulson-Clarke and Wizard IX won the BE100 Three Day Event Section E with the pair finishing on their dressage score of 30.6, qualifying for the Science Supplement Cup at Badminton in the process. The pair finished 27th in the BE90 Championship earlier this year. Wizard is a 16-year-old Welsh cross who is owned by Jayne Andrews, with Millie riding him for the past two and a half years.
The 18-year-old who is based near Frome told Eventing Worldwide: “It was the best feeling winning, it’s hard to put into words. I have had so many near misses this season so it was the best feeling for everything to come together. He performed so well all weekend and really put his all into it in such awful conditions. It was an amazing way to end the season and given us a lot to work on over winter in preparation for Badminton Grassroots. My family have been a huge help this season as has my groom Shelly Smit, my dressage trainer Brigid Grant and my jump instructor Claire Loney so I was so happy to achieve this win almost as a thank you to them.”
The BE100 Open Three Day Event Section F went the way of Francesca Brough and Emorka P.
She said: “I bought him as two-year-old from Holland and we’ve come up through the grades together. We had a did a three-star and had a crashing fall so we’ve been building up our confidence together.”
Rhiannon Tewson on Idefix III topped BE100 Section J – a second win in a row for the pair. Nick Gauntlett had a successful end to the season with two wins – the first on Morning Finale (out of Chilli Morning) in BE100 Section G , finishing on a dressage score of 25.0 and the second with his prolific stallion Party Trick in Intermediate Section O.
The team competition was won by Team Essex which was made up of Abigail Burbidge, Sally Corrigan, Summer Dann and Samantha Moody who had a combined winning score of 109.2. The Scream Team finished in second (111.9) with Miles Apart in third (112.4).
The team at Bicton worked hard to give competitors the best going, with fences moved following the worst of the wet weather so the competition could continue. Course designer Helen West explained: “With each class running on fresh ground, we knew we’d be able to cope with the rain by tweaking the courses where necessary to ensure it was as safe as possible. We also had the advantage that Sunday would be a bright, sunny day so we pressed ahead. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from riders, and all in all it was a great competition.”
Other section results: BE100 Section H Jo Rimmer, Total Freedom; BE100 Section I Dani Evans, Sweet Wispa; Novice Section K William Fox-Pitt, Under Oath; Open Novice Under 18 Section L Ellie Fredericks, Mandorior; Open Novice Section M Adrian Whiteway, Vlove D Or Ly Open Intermediate Section N Ryuzo Kitajima, Feroza, Nieuwmoed.
Images courtesy of Tanzy Lee