Molly Shepherd Boden reports…
On a blustery Somerset weekend at Aldon (17th-19th March) there was hot competition for places, with the likes of Pippa Funnell, Andrew Nicholson, William Fox-Pitt and Mary King all competing for the top spots. With a vast range of sections, from pony trials to advanced, there was plenty of talent on show in Yeovil.
The King family had a triumphant weekend, with Mary King sweeping the top two places in the Open Novice Section J, with a victory on King Robert II and a close second place on King Bill. Both of her youngsters finished on their impressive dressage scores of 29.0 and 30.8 respectively.
Not to be beaten by her mother, Emily King also topped the tables in a very competitive advanced class, riding Dargun. Competing against the likes of Pippa Funnell, Paul Tapner and Sam Griffiths, on his 2014 Badminton winner, Paulank Brockagh, Emily kept a cool head and finished on a score of 30.0 after adding 2.0 time penalties cross country to her 28.0 dressage score. That saw her pip Irishman, Austin O’Connor to the coveted trophy, which her mother Mary has won several times in the past.
Section A of the BE100 was also won by a former Badminton winner. Last year’s Mitsubishi Motors Cup winner, Katie Hancock nipped in ahead of Andrew Nicolson to clinch the victory on Coddstown Pet, completing on her enviable dressage score of 25.0.
The pair were somewhat rushed into the event, after Katie’s lorry had issues starting that morning, resulting in her borrowing her friend’s trailer.
Katie said, “Aldon was lovely once I had arrived! The last-minute arrival was so hectic and meant that we were parked right next to the show jumping arena. My mare is so hot, I have to talk to her a lot before the dressage to keep her calm. We trotted all the way down to the arena, but once she was in there and settled, she was as good as gold.”
“The jumping phases are her favourite, so she really pulled it out of the bag with a 25.0 dressage. I was shocked and really thrilled to bits with her.”
Local competitor, Livvy Nile also tasted victory on the Somerset boarder last weekend, topping the standings with her homebred gelding, Zefron. The pair stayed on their dressage score of 27.5 to win the Intermediate Section K by just 0.2 of a penalty.
Livvy said, “I am so very proud of him and the fact that I have produced him myself all the way through. He is very cheeky and has plenty of character, being quite small he is much like an overgrown pony, but he always tries his heart out for me.”
The CIC* section Q was won in style by Adam Harvey, whom like Katie and Livvy, also completed the event on his dressage score of 39.2 to reign victorious on Picasso V.
Adam said, “I’ve had Picasso from being a four-year-old. He’s quite established at this level now. He was originally quite a sharp horse, but has matured a lot these past two seasons. He is very consistent on the flat. There was a whole year when he didn’t get a dressage mark out of the twenties or teens.”
Both Livvy and Adam will be aiming their horses at a CCI** later this season, whilst Katie will be aiming her mare at a novice. All three applauded the organisation and ground conditions at Aldon and are already looking forward to returning there in October.
BE100 Section B – Alexa Palmer and Ogue Caviar.
BE100 Section C – Althea Bleekman and Ragracho.
BE100 Open Section D – Jo May and Triumvirate.
Novice Section E – Andrew Nicholson and As Is.
Novice Section F – Sophie Damment and RS Mateus.
Novice Section G – Pippa Funnell and Maybach.
Novice Section H – Carolyne Ryan-Bell and Newmarket Caro.
ON U18 Section I – Chloe Rodriguez and Rathmoyle King.
BE100 Section L – Georgie Strang and Capels Hollow Drift.
BE100 Section M – Emily Young-Jamieson and Shannondale Carlina.
BE100 U18 Section N – Camilla Read and Cloonbarry Flare.
BE100 U18 Section O – Eliza Chapple and Enzo Van De Nethe.
Pony Trial Section P – Tom Bird and Night Fury.
Intermediate Section R – Andrew Nichoson and Zacarias.
Open Intermediate Section S – Georgie Spence and Halltown Harley.
Open Intermediate Section T – Sara Squires and Sula Blue.
OI U21 Section U – Holly Needham and Strike A Pose.
Photographs Courtesy of Tanzy Lee