EWWs Event Reports sponsored by RACESAFE
Sarah Carless reports …..
Nicola Wilson added the CCI3* title to her impressive roll of honour at the Blair Castle Equi-Trek International Horse Trials when she and Annie Clover retained the lead they had held from day one.
It wasn’t all plain-sailing for the London 2012 team silver medallist though. The experienced pair set off on cross country in determined fashion but they had a slightly awkward moment when the 12-year-old mare straddled the step up out of water at fence 17b, but they went on to complete with 8.4 time penalties to give them a five-penalty cushion going into show jumping. Despite their three-fence cushion, the pair dislodged one pole and racked up seven time penalties to reduce their winning margin to just 1.3 penalties.
Nicola enthused; “Clever Annie – I’m thrilled to bits. She’s been so consistent at Three Day Events and she’s finally got the win she deserves. I had a really super ride (cross country). She was quite keen and feisty, but she hasn’t run for a while so it wasn’t my aim to go for the time. I’ve ridden her since she was a four-year-old and know her inside out. Despite her quirks in the stable – she’s quite claustrophobic and doesn’t like tight spaces – she trusts me and is so genuine to ride.”
The mare has recently undergone an embryo transfer which, all being well, will result in a foal from the German-based thoroughbred stallion Duke Of Hearts.
Oliver Townend took second and third positions in the CCI*** with ODT Ghareeb and Lanfranco during a successful weekend for him.
He went on to became the first rider to win back-to-back Event Rider Master (ERM) legs when he and Cilnabradden Evo triumphed in the most thrilling of contests.
The podium positions changed as frequently as the weather in the final throes of the competition, but in the end Oliver was in a class of his own, giving the talented but sometimes unpredictable 10-year-old a masterful ride to finish on a score of 45.2 – nearly 10 penalties ahead of his nearest rival.
Germany’s Bettina Hoy, the penultimate rider on the course and lying second after the show jumping, looked like she would pile on the pressure on Britain’s number one, but Seigneur Medicott faulted at the second of two angled brushes at the second-last fence when seemingly travelling very comfortably.
“Luckily I was galloping right past a tannoy and heard about Bettina’s mistake,” said Oliver. “I immediately went down two gears. I think Cilnabradden Evo thought I was pulling up! Everyone knows we’ve had a lot of ups and downs with this horse, but hopefully now we’ve turned a corner.”
There was controversy in the final stages as Jock Paget and Angus Blue, who took an early lead with a clear inside the time, were subsequently eliminated when the ground jury judged that he had passed the wrong side of a flag at the influential double of triple brushes at fence 14a. He was temporarily reinstated but then eliminated again following some extensive video reviewing.
This left Tom McEwen in second place with Diesel, a horse who has been off for the best part of two years. “It’s brilliant to have him back; I’ve really missed riding him,” said Tom.
Gemma Tattersall and Santiago Bay finished third; a result that puts them in a very strong position going into the final leg of the ERM series at Blenheim. This result means there is now just a single point between her and Australian Paul Tapner, who finished sixth at Blair with Kilronan as the series heads for its finale at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials. Townend’s second win propels him into third in the standings with Jonelle Price in fourth, and any one of the top four riders could walk away as the winner depending on the results in two weeks’ time.
Flora Harris and Bayano were crowned Scottish Open Champions when they took top honours in the CIC3*. The pair were in second place after the show jumping, but left the start box as leaders following Bill Levett and Improvise’s withdrawal.
They stopped the clock two seconds over the optimum time to finish on a score of 42.8 – some 7.4 penalties ahead of runners-up Oliver Townend and Dunbeau. Paul Tapner and Bonza King Of Rouges finished third.
“That was one of the best rides I’ve ever had on him,” said Flora, who had pulled up the gelding last time out at Hartpury after running into problems at a tricky combination. “It wasn’t his fault at all, but it was great to come here and have such a positive run.”
CCI2* winner Caroline Clarke, who went into the final show jumping phase at the top of the leaderboard, after dressage leader Emily Young Jamieson was eliminated, with a pole in hand. And she produced a foot-perfect clear from Touch Too Much to land her first international victory.
“I was shaking when I went into the arena,” admitted the dental student from Bristol. “I knew he could jump clear, though, so long as I didn’t mess it up.”
Jonelle Price finished second with Kindred Spirit IV, while Paul Sims and Last Secret took third.
New Zealand’s first lady went one better in the CCI1*, leading from start to finish aboard the well-named nine-year-old OBOS Impressive. The mare won the prestigious five-year-old young event horse championship at Dublin show two years ago before crossing the Irish Sea to Jonelle’s Wiltshire yard. Jock Paget and Optimus Prime II finished second, while Kirsty Johnston completed the top three with Classic VI.
Jonelle commented: “She’s a proper little athlete and quite experienced to come here. The main aim is Le Lion at the end of the season, so this was great preparation.”
Photographs courtesy of Dave Cameron