Brightling 2015 hosted 2 days of competition with 471 starters spread out over 13 sections. The Grissell Family who have been hosting Eventing competitions on their Brightling Park Estate for the past 27 years were praised by many competitors for their handling of the ground, most of which had been equivated and special attention was given to take off and landing areas on the xc. Rain over night on the Saturday meant near perfect ground conditions for the International classes the following day. Both days attracted high numbers of spectators keen to enjoy the Eventing set against the stunning views of the Sussex Weald, and adding a buzzier atmosphere to the sj and xc at all levels.

Brightling Statistics;

9 of the 13 sections were won on the dressage score.

35 riders finished on their dressage score. (None in the Novice or the 2*)

371 started the cross country, 8.4% failed to complete. Of those that completed 10.5 % had jumping faults and 28% completed inside the time. (Nobody made the time in the Novice or 2* sections)

Of those that completed the showjumping 32% went clear;
34% in 90

40% in 100

20% in Novice

37% in 1*

35% in 2*

BE90 Sections –

In Section A Jennifer Rowlinson topped the leader board with her own Drumhowan Rolex From Texas finishing on her dressage score of 28.3 with a comfortable 6 point lead over the second place combination. Jennifer was one of only 4 competitors in Section A to go double clear out of 31 starters. In the jumping phases the show jumping proved quite influential with many getting at least one pole and only 8 pairs completing the xc within the 5:08 optimum time. Both second and third places went to horses who were taking part in only their third ever BE events. Second place went to Michael Ashton riding Cristina Belton’s – Beltons Entente Concordiale; they completed on a score of 34.3, adding 4 penalties from the showjumping to their dressage score of 30.3. Third place pairing Kitty Stainsby and Castro Z were also rewarded for their double clear, finishing on their dressage score of 36.8.

In Section B the top 3 combinations finished on their dressage scores with only .8 penalties separating 1st and 3rd places. Yet again the jumping phases proved very influential with only 6 double clears and 8 competitors either retiring or eliminated in the sj or xc. 1st place went to Gillian Reid on her 16 year old gelding Jet Smart Max with a final score of 30. Gillian also posted the quickest time xc in this section coming in 30 seconds under the optimum time. In second place Fiona Patty’s Cricket Star proved she was more of an Eventing Star, finishing on 30.3. 3rd place went to Hannah Folkard on her 15.3hh mare Lady Van Utah with a final score of 30.8.

In Section C Tomas Cousillas started off a very successful day at Brightling with a 27.3 score and a win on Bookhamlodge Spring Edition, making this their 5th top 5 placing in 6 runs this season and his first of two wins of the day. Taking the second spot was Sarah Gledhill riding Katie and Jenny Patrick’s Bepilot, completing on their dressage of 31.3 and in only their second BE Event as a competitive duo. Bepilot or ‘Bertie’ has been with Sarah for a couple of weeks whilst his owner Katie who is at Vet School takes a two week placement. Sarah explained, ‘Bertie came to me as he had been a little difficult xc over the last few seasons. I thought Brightling would be a great venue to take Bertie to as it is friendly and well run but with a professional air that makes you feel proud to be running. The sj course itself rode nicely with bright but inviting fences and the arena is buzzy with plenty of people, trade stands and flags! The xc course is a real xc course with undulating parkland and ground that had been carefully managed. The 90 is inviting but asks the rider and horse enough questions to make the competition more than just about the dressage.’ Third place went to recent Saracen Feeds Eventing Bursary winner Zoe Gould and her ex racehorse – Musical Legend, finishing .7 penalties behind second on their dressage score of 32.

In Section D Cheryl Freed and Derwins Blue bettered their 3rd place from last year’s Brightling competition to win the section on their dressage score of 27. David Ashby who lay in second place after the dressage with a score of 24.5 added 4 penalties in the showjumping to finish on 28.5 and remain in second position. In third place Rachel Harrod secured her highest placing to date at BE90 level on board Hartpury Tiger Lilly with a double clear and inside the time, to finish on 31.3.

BE100 Sections –

The BE100 sections were sponsored by the ‘Bramwell Family in memory of Jane’. For those that didn’t know Jane Bramwell, she was a long standing fence judge and supporter who sadly died from a brain tumour shortly after last year’s event. Her family sponsored all of the BE100 sections in her memory.

Christopher Baker and Findon Flapjack, who have scored a sub 30 dressage consistently this season, continued their successful run of dressage marks with a 28.3 final score to lead Section E. Catherine Fowdrey added second place with Zingaro III to the day’s rosette tally with a 26.5 mark in the dressage, keeping her in the prizes even with 4 pens to add from the showjumping. Local girl Lisa Pilbeam finished the day in third place, narrowly missing out on the second spot by .1 marks, with a 27.8 dressage and 2.8 time to add xc.

In Section F Tomas Cousillas led from the dressage finishing on the top mark of 23. The .1 point difference worked in Lisa Pilbeam’s favour this time with a 23.8 dressage and 2 time xc putting them .1 penalties ahead of the third place combination. Carla Saxby with Susan Normand’s Loris Concerto finished the day in 3rd place, adding their 23.5 score to the hat-trick of 23 dressage totals in the top 3, and adding just 2 time from the xc for a grand total of 25.9.

It was tight at the top in Section G with victory going to Gemma Tattersall and Chilli’s Hero who finished on their dressage score of 29.8 and bang on the optimum time xc (5:15), to force second place rivals Nicholas Pearce and Jacorde into second (29.8 dressage and 5:09 xc). The battle for third and fourth was a similar story with Bryony Whittington riding Coumroe Cruise on Boy, beating Melissa Joannides to third with a 32.3 dressage total and a xc round closer to the optimum time.

In Section H Fiona Breach and SVS Chilli Con Cooley had nothing to add to their 25.8 dressage for first place, with their 5.14 time xc helping head off runners-up Annabel Murphy and Black Jack Van Nova, who finished on the same score but were further from the optimum time xc. Gemma Tattersall collected her 3rd rosette of the weekend riding Tillingbourne and completing on 29.8 double clear to secure 3rd.

Novice Sections –

In the Novice sections the optimum time of 5:11 proved hard to reach with no competitors managing to complete the 2695m course inside the time.

In Section I Sophie Jenman took the lead ahead of Francis Whittington to clinch her first of two wins in the Novice Sections completing on a 30.9 score with her 16,2 hh gelding Fedorian. Francis and his second place horse ‘Fernhill First Friend’ were one of only two combinations out of 26 starters who managed a double clear, his score of 21 in the dressage was the best in the section but 12.4 time penalties cross country cost them a higher placing. 3rd place also went to Francis with his second ride ‘Derries Blitz’. The pair posted an identical cross country time but a 26.8 dressage and one pole showjumping meant they finished on 43.2, over 10 penalties shy of their second place Novice score of 33.4.

In Section J there were 3 double clears but only one of those made it into the top 10 placings. Sophie Jenman did it again with a win on board ‘Zoook’ and the fastest xc time of the section. Sophie’s 29.5 dressage, 4 to add showjumping and 4 time xc set the top mark at 37.5. Challengers Will Furlong and his ride Esprit took second place with a 27.5 dressage and penalties in the jumping phases putting them on a combined total of 39.1. Gemma Tattersall finished 3rd riding her third ‘Chilli’ horse of the weekend (Chilli’s Gem) and taking home her third top 5 placing at this years event with a total score of 43.6.

In Section K only 10 pairs completed with a spread of marks from 1st to 10th of 46.9 penalties. 1st place went to Tom Jackson and Kid Rock who lead after the dressage with a 23.3 score and finished the day on 42.5 after adding 12 in the sj and 7.2 time xc. Not far behind them Indiana Limpus riding Billy Brogue posted one of only two double clears to finish in second on a combined total of 42.8. Sophie Miles and her own 15,3hh mare Donnerstar scored a 41.5 dressage and with 14 penalties to add in the jumping finished in third on 55.5.

1* –

Of the 73 starters in the 1* Section at Brightling 52 completed. In the 1* it was Emily Llewellyn who reined triumphant taking first and second placings and with only 1.1 penalties separating her two horses. Emily was one of only 3 competitors to go double clear and inside the time with her winning ride Emirati Nightsky. The Dutch Warmblood gelding who was national 5 year old Champion in 2014 was sourced in Holland as a 4 year old and was purchased by one of Emily’s owners as a birthday present from Husband to wife. After Brightling Emily is aiming him at his first Intermediate. Emily took the second spot with her stallion ‘Exclusive’ who combines Eventing with stud duties. Both horses finished on near identical dressage scores of 45 and 45.3 but Emily admits that her first ride on Exclusive, who gained 1.2 time and a double clear, helped her to set the pace and come inside the time for her second ride. ‘I grew up 5 minutes from Brightling. I always go back because it is a course that I know and like, it is educational and an old fashioned, big, bold jumping course that is always well presented. The sj can be tough and with the hill requires the horses to be careful.’ Emily considers the XC to be ‘pretty tough for a 1*’ with 3 waters in total and the final water having a massive drop into it which was causing concern amongst many of the riders but rode really well. Third place went to Laura Smith and Killard Enigma who secured one of only 3 double clears and inside the time to finish on their dressage of 50.6. The pairing won their last Event in the ONU18 at Farley Hall and have scarcely been out of the top 10 placings this season – possible ones to watch for the future! Alex Kingdon is a Vet School Student who was competing in her second ever 1* at Brightling and was particularly praising of the ground and the xc course….’Everything they could do they did, the ground was spiked and sand was prepared on the take off and landing areas. The xc is the nicest 1* course I’ve seen, challenging enough with great use of the terrain, it was also really obvious which horses weren’t fit enough.’

2* –

The 2* win went to Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp with Fernhill by Night. The pair gained the best dressage of the section with a 32.2 and added 7.6 time from the jumping phases. They finished on a total score of 39.8, 8.5 penalties clear of second place combo Fiona Breach and Drumhowan Black Magic. Fiona finished on a score of 48.3 with 42.7 in the dressage and 5.6 time to add from the xc, and bettered her 4th place score at 2* earlier in the year at Rockingham Castle. Third place went to Katie Preston and her 15,2hh gelding Templar Justice who completed on a score of 50.2 with 3.6 time xc to add to her dressage of 46.6.
Sarah Pickard finished in a respectable 18th place with her horse Polo Striker, gaining a double clear and the fastest time xc. She felt that it was an up to height but encouraging 2* track with the two skinny offset logs at 13 and the hedge at 14 possibly being the most challenging jumps on the course.

Report by Sarah Ginn

Photographs Courtesy of Lorraine Porter

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