Borde Hill is known for its cross country course as it has a reputation for being a big, tough up to height track. This year’s first event certainly didn’t disappoint. Their entry level was BE90, with the course winding round the estate and introducing riders to some more complex combinations.
Fences 6A and B, on open, hanging log on the downhill to an open skinny corner were a challenge at this level and a great cross country test for riders and their horses. It was safe to say before the first day had even started it was safe to say this wasn’t going to be a dressage competition!
Saturday’s competition comprised of BE90 and BE100 competitors, of 254 starts on the Cross Country Saturday just 8 made the time, 20 failed to finish and 42 had jumping penalties. Sunday sadly brought rain for the BE100 and Novice entries. It was a very wet day and saw and within the 100 and Novice classes, of 179 starts only 3 made the time, 20 failed to finish and 21 had jumping penalties. This is definitely a great event for those aspiring to compete at Badminton Grassroots in 2016.
The dressage arenas are set back in a corner but with a view of the Cross Country course. This did unsettle a few horses, but for the majority it wasn’t an issue. The arenas themselves were on a slight slope and after the rain many were studding up to allow for a little more grip. Riders coped well and the weekend saw some high end dressage scores posted.
The Show Jumping phase and again this is on a slight slope and requires some accurate riding or a nice honest horse when strides don’t go to plan. This was very apparent with only 4 riders finishing on their dressage score out of the 393 that completed over the weekend, huge congratulations to Zoe Gould, Gillian Reid, Matilda Dawson and Roxanne Britnell.
The BE90 saw 45% of riders going clear Show Jumping, BE100 had 44% going clear and Novice saw 40% go clear Show Jumping. Borde Hill is definitely an event to take a good jumping horse and provides a great experience for riders and horses alike at this mid-point in the season.
The weekends winners in each section were:
Katie Berriman Davies
Whilst Borde Hill has a reputation of being tough, it is a firm favourite in the calendar of the South East and that was very clear by the large number of entries.
EWW caught up with some of the riders that competed at Borde. Victoria Linfield, who plays an active role in the South East Eventers League was there and had this to say:
‘I had three rides in the BE90 at Borde Hill, producing two double clears and picking up two 6th places and a 13th! I have been competing at Borde Hill since I was 15 and have always loved the courses, watching it evolve from the days when we used to gallop though the area now used for dressage to the more modern event. I walked the course and thought it was a very strong 90. My three rides are fairly experienced and coped well. The time was tight, but it sounded like a lot of people didn’t ride tight lines and also got lost between fences 5 and 6! My third ride, which is the slowest, was my quickest but that was because I realised the time was so tight! Borde Hill is a brilliant event and I am looking forward to the August event already!’
We also managed to speak to Polly Hall. Polly is a great volunteer in the South East and is always seen on the circuit either competing or lending an experienced helping hand:
‘Borde Hill is my local event and ever since I got back into horses a few years ago it’s always been on my list of events to conquer. I started volunteering at the event way before I thought about actually getting round the course and have made many friends in the fab organising committee. First time I went round Borde Hill was two years ago in the UA 80 (thought at the time it was the biggest scariest thing I’d ever do) How wrong was I!
I finally competed there affiliated last August (2014) as my third event, having two good runs out thought yay home ground and was thrilled to run there. The dressage went well and just one down in the show jumping we headed cross country with high hopes (just to complete not to win a place I hasten to add). We set out a little stickily but by fence 3 and 4 were flying. Got to fence 6a however and ground to a halt! My horse had never really stopped before so was a bit of a shock. Anyway got over that then 6b more stops! Enough to get a big fat E so disappointed. And as my local event was more gutted.
This year I entered again (now a full BE member) and was determined to GET passed fence 6. Waked the course night before and felt ok (fence 6b corner was handed differently to my good side) but deep down was bricking it as it looked huge and technical (it was only my second BE run of the year). On the day I felt my dressage was an absolute shocker!! Our arena was on a slope, and although he felt he had plenty of steam he felt all over the place. I had some fab friends with me who tried to pick me up but with nerves a foot I was ready to go home there and then. Thankfully I was persuaded to go show jumping and see how things were. So with no expectations we did. And got a CLEAR! One of only a handful! Put me on such a high I didn’t even question not going cross country. I went out the start box (after a little chat with starter Chris Kirby) and just went for it. Flying round the new layout was brill. Down through the trees cutting a tricky line there it was. Fence 6a the wishing well. Over he flew with a little growl from me and onto 6b. Where I completely forgot how to ride and had 2 stops!’ Said Polly, really highlighting how tricky it can be to line all 3 ducks up and get consistency in all phases.
We wish Polly luck for her future events.
Like many, the Borde Hill couldn’t happen without the amazing organisers, sponsors and volunteers.
EWW would like to also thank South East’s premier cross country starter Mr Chris Kirby for supplying statistics for this report.
Photographs Courtesy of Lorraine Porter