The first international competition in the Irish eventing calendar took place last weekend at Ballindenisk, beginning on the 19th of April. The Fell family provided riders with beautifully presented courses, perfect ground and a friendly, well run and meticulously organized event. With a truly global entry and a dream weather forecast, the stage was set for some fantastic sport.
I spoke to Peter Fell about the event-
“It was a great weekend-operations went very well in advance, we had fantastic weather and a great team of people who all contributed to the success of the event. We work very hard here to provide the best possible ground at every event-we have processes of grazing sheep over certain parts of the farm, we roll in the winter with a Cambridge roller and do the best we can. We are constantly working to develop our facilities, and everything is an in-house effort. We run the restaurant ourselves to ensure people are fed well, and we try to look after everyone. We have plans and improvements in the pipeline, and we are aiming for bigger and better going forward.”
The CCI 4* Long was won by Irish Rider Sam Watson, riding the traditionally bred Imperial Sky. A dressage mark of 32.2 from judges Gerd Kuest, John Lyttle and Joanne Jarden was good enough for second place going into the cross country. The 13 year old snow white son of Puissance stormed around the track, with just 0.4 time faults to add. A foot perfect Showjumping round sealed the deal with a one mark winning margin over British rider Ben Hobday, aboard his own and Jane Chambers’ nine year old gelding, Shadow Man.
Sam said-“I was disappointed with my dressage mark as I felt I left marks behind me, but the score was very fair. I was delighted with the ground and the presentation of the courses-the Fells always do their best for riders and horses. This event was the perfect prep run for Luhmuhlen-the horse was around 85% fit coming here, and the aim was to get to run for ten and a half minutes cross country on good ground. Imperial Sky was a little tired at the end of the course, but he came out very well on the last day-he was almost a bit too fresh at the trot up! I couldn’t be happier with the horse, and driving home on Sunday evening I was reflecting on just how fortunate I am. The co owners of this horse, Tom and Cathy Byrne, took a half share with us when he was six years old. He is thirteen now, and they have stuck with us through thick and thin. My life is very intense between the event horses, my family and also Equiratings, but I have exceptional people around me-my wife Hannah, Diam Byrne, my owners and many others-who make everything possible. I am just a small part of a much bigger picture.”
Third place in this competition went to Italian rider Giovanni Ugolotti, riding the fifteen year old Limmerick-sired gelding, Note Worthy. A competitive dressage mark of 35.3 and just 1.6 cross country timefaults to add gave this combination a tiny margin of just 0.1 over fourth placed British rider, James Robinson. Riding his own ten year old Irish sports horse Native Spirit, James recorded a dressage mark of 36.2 and added just 0.8 time faults cross country for a final score of 37. In fifth place was Japanese rider Ryuzo Kitajima, riding the nine year old gelding, Feroza Nieuwmoed. Owned by Riding Club Crane, the Querly Elvis-sired horse recorded a dressage mark of 34.5 and added 2.8 timefaults cross country, for a final score of 37.3. In sixth place was British rider Eliza Stoddart, riding The Flint Syndicate’s Dick O Malley. The Flintstone-sired gelding completed with a dressage score of 35.1 and one showjump down, for a final tally of 39.1.
The CCI 3* Long was won by British rider Olivia Wilmot, riding the Beau Harry-sired gelding, Zebedee de Foja. The fifteen year old gelding posted a superb dressage score of 26.1, and with just one showjump down, a final mark of 30.1 was good enough to seal the victory. In second place was Japanese rider Kazuma Tomoto, riding Vinci de la Vigne. The ten year old gelding was previously ridden by Astier Nicholas, and is owned by Japan Racing Federation/Japan Federation. A dressage mark of 27.7, 0.4 timefaults cross country and one showjump down gave a final score of 32.1. Based in the UK with William Fox-Pitt, Kazuma has only been eventing for a short time-this is his fourth season. He is proving to be a force to be reckoned with, and enjoyed a remarkable weekend at Ballindenisk.
Kazuma said “I am getting to know the horse more now. He will go to Chatsworth next, and then to Tattersalls. The aim is to qualify him for Tokyo. I am very lucky to be supported by the Japan Racing Federation and the Japan Federation. We now have six Japanese riders in Europe-three in the UK, two in Germany and one in France. Japanese eventing is getting stronger all the time.”
In third place was Czech rider, Tereza Mrazkova. This remarkable young lady and her self produced gelding Clasic T finished with a dressage mark of 32 and just one showjump down, for a final score of 36. Tereza is based in the Uk working as a freelance rider and instructor, and gives hope to all one horse owner-riders trying to achieve their goals. Tereza found Clasic T as a rising four year old, and her parents stepped in to purchase the Slovak-bred son of Caledonia. On finishing university, Tereza spent nine months in New Zealand before deciding to travel to the UK and take up a working pupil position with Australian Olympic rider, Sam Griffiths. Clasic T hasn’t always been the most straightforward horse to produce, having been incredibly naughty as a youngster-but his third place in Ballindenisk was his best International result so far, and he has been worth the wait. Tereza spoke to me about her weekend –
“It’s like a dream! I just can’t believe it. My next stop will be Chatsworth for the 4* short, and then Brahman for the 4* Long. The aim is the European Championships at Luhmuhlen, which falls just a week before I get married! If all goes to Plan, this is the year when dreams really do come true. It is so exciting.”
Fourth place in this competition went to British rider James Adams, riding Cupido IV. Owned by Jessica Powell, the Vainqueur-sired gelding posted a dressage mark of 31.6. Two showjumps down left the combination on a final score of 39.6. Irish rider Sofie Walshe took fifth place, riding Charlotte Walshe’s ten year old thoroughbred gelding, Kinsau. A dressage mark of 38.6 and one showjump down have a final score of 42.6. Irish Olympian Michael Ryan finished in sixth place, riding Carol and Tom Henry’s eight year old gelding, Barnahown Corn Hill. A dressage mark of 32.8, one showjump down and 8.4 timefaults cross county left this duo on a final score of 45.2.
The CCI 2* Long was won by British rider Nicola Wilson, riding the Cormint-sired gelding Chabadu. The seven year old is owned by Mr James Lambert OBE and Mrs Jo Lambert. A dressage mark of 26.4 and 0.8 timefaults cross country gave a finishing score of 26.4. In second place was Irish rider Michael Ryan, riding Carol and Tom Henry’s Heritage Fortunas-sired gelding, Classicals Fortune. This duo finished on their dressage mark of 32.6 with nothing else to add. British rider James Adams finished on a dressage mark of 33.8 for third place, riding his own and Laura de Wesselow’s Van Gogh-sired mare, Quinara. Fellow British rider Laura Ritchie-Bland came fourth, riding her own Primitive Faerie Tale sired-gelding, Lord Aster. This duo were another combination to finish on their dressage score, on a mark of 35.4. Irish rider Daniel Brown continued his excellent run of form this season, finishing fifth with his mother Maureen’s seven year old Hold Up Premier sired mare, Fleur De Lis. A good dressage mark of 32.6 and one showjump down left this pair on a final score of 36.6. British rider Georgina Wood took sixth place, riding Coronel MCJ. Owned by James Wood, this twelve year old grey gelding-who competed at The World Equestrian Games in 2018-achieved a dressage mark of 31.9 and added 5.6 penalties in the showjumping phase, for a final mark of 37.5.
The CCI Junior 2* Long was won by British rider Saffie Osbourne, riding Alex Power’s Levistano-sired gelding, Lakantus. This horse is no stranger to big days out, having finished in tenth place at the Junior European Championships in 2017 when ridden by Alex Power. At Ballindenisk, Lakantus and Saffie completes on their dressage mark of 28.8. Irish rider Cameron Kiernan Jnr finishes in second place, riding Desdra Kiernan’s gelding, Fernhill Nearly Darc. A final score of 30.7 gave them a 4.3 mark margin over third placed Ben Rowlatt-McCormick, who also completed on his dressage mark of 35, riding his mother Fran’s Adam IV-sired gelding, Mon Ami Alme.
The CCI 4* Short was won by Japanese rider Kazuma Tomoto, riding Padraig McCarthy’s Colandro-sired mare, Bernadette Utopia. A dressage mark of 30.7 with 8.8 timefaults cross country left this duo on a final score of 39.5. Kazuma also finished second-a mere 0.2 marks adrift-riding the speedy Brookpark Vikenti. This horse is owned by The Japan Racing Association, and is by super-sire Master Imp.
“Bernadette is an experienced mare, she is a big mover and a very careful showjumper. She was a little tense in the dressage, but she was polite. There were many tricky lines on the cross country, but I trust her 100%. I am very lucky to have her. I am thinking of aiming her at the 4* Long at Tattersalls, which will hopefully complete her qualification for Tokyo. Brookpark Vikenti can be a tricky character, he’s still quite green so I am working all the time to relax him. He is a quality horse, and gives a nice feeling to ride. He was a little tired after the dressage and he didn’t concentrate enough in the Showjumping, but he is a cross country machine. I went faster on him than on Bernadette, which was good practice for me. He will go to Chatsworth next, and then to Luhmuhlen.”
The experienced partnership of Clare Abbott and Euro Prince took third place in this class. A good dressage mark of 32.5 and 7.2 timefaults cross country left Cormac McKay’s gelding a point ahead of Ireland’s Sarah Ennis, who was riding the impressive Woodcourt Garrison. The Breda Kennedy owned ten year old son of Garrison Royal posted a dressage mark of 38.8. Two time faults across country left this pair with a final score of 40.8. China’s Alex Hau Tian took fifth and sixth place respectively, riding PSH Convival and Don Geniro. PSH Convival finished on a score of 41.3, with his stablemate just 0.7 marks adrift. Both horses are owned by Alex, who enjoyed an additional and unexpected award over the weekend-the Chris Corballis Memorial Trophy. Organizer Peter Fell presented Alex with this accolade following participation in what was arguably the feature event of the weekend-the prestigious donkey derby! The trophy was given to Alex for epitomizing the true spirit of eventing, and was awarded in honour of the sadly missed event rider Chris Corballis-who was so instrumental in assisting with the running and development of Ballindenisk.
The CCI 3* Short was won by Britain’s Nicola Wilson, with the experienced mare, Bulana. Owned by Mr James Lambert OBE and Mrs Jo Lambert, the thirteen year old mare finished on a final score of 26.2, with just one showju p to add to a dressage mark of 22.2. In second place was Britain’s Louisa Lockwood, riding the diminutive bay mare, Another Proposition. Owned by Mr and Mrs Donald Birts and Mrs Carol Seymour-Newton, this mare finished on a final score of 32.1. Sam Watson enjoyed further success this weekend by claiming third spot in this class, riding Ballybolger Talisman. A dressage mark of 32.6 with nothing to add was a superb return from this son of Puissance, who hasn’t always been the easiest.
“He was the surprise package of the weekend! He’s a small horse at just 15.3hh, and he’s very agile with a lot of talent. He feels special, particularly cross country. He behaved in the dressage, and this was a great International debut. Rosemary Ponsonby bred him, and we really must acknowledge people who are prepared to breed-and wait for-this kind of horse. These are slow developing types of horses, and they are less flash at the lower levels-but they mature into exceptional horses for the upper levels. He will likely go to Kilguilkey, Camphire and then possibly on to Blenheim for the 8 and 9 year old class.”
Michael Ryan continued his good weekend with Dunlough Striker, who finished in fourth on his dressage mark of 34.2. Carol and Tom Henry’s fourteen year old gelding by Maltstriker has been a great servant to the Ryans over the years. In fifth place was limerick man Dominic Furnell, with his own Kiltealy Rodgers. This duo finished on their dressage score of 36.8. In sixth place was Clare Abbott with the Valent-sired Jewellent. One showjump down and a dressage score of 29.6 left the Lisa Rosbotham owned gelding on a final score of 36.8.
The CCI 2* Short was won by Italian rider Giovanni Ugolotti, riding the seven year old mare, Swirly Temptress. The Karin and Kristina Rausing owned horse finished with nothing to add to her dressage mark of 28.2. Local rider Brian Morrison took second spot, riding Lorna O’Driscoll’s thirteen year old gelding, Binrado. Two time faults to add to a dressage mark of 29.3 left the son of Indorado just 1.2 marks ahead of Irish Olympic rider, Camilla Speirs. Riding her mother Bridget’s gelding, BT Martin’s Masterpiece, this combination finished on a final score of 32.5.
Also in this class was Peter Dillon, son Of well known vet, Hugh Dillon. This was Peter’s first International event, and he was riding Thistledown Nordic Clover. A dressage mark of 37.9, one Showjump down and 8.8 timefaults cross country gave this duo a finishing score of 50.7, for 22nd place.
“Ballindenisk was an amazing experience. It was a very well run event, and it was incredible to be surrounded by so many big name riders. Our dressage wasn’t too bad, and the horse show jumped very well. I didn’t really push him cross country as he’s not fully fit, but he jumped super. He’s eight now, and we bought him as a five year old at Goresbridge. We genuinely didn’t intend on buying anything but we liked this horse and there weren’t too many bids on him. He has brought me on so much, and we have learned together. He always tries very hard.”
The CCI 2* Short for ponies was an Irish whitewash, with the top six places going to the home side. Olivia Swan took first place, riding Carol Swan’s eight year old, Rockon Pedro. Their final score of 37.7 kept them ahead of second placed Ruth Burke, who was riding Michael Burke’s ten year old gelding, Atlantic Dreamer. They finished on 41.4. Susan Shanahan took third spot, on the Linda Shanahan owned Little Indian Feather. The final score for this consistent pair was 41.9.
The CCI 1* Intro was won by Lorraine Kennedy, riding the well known and highly regarded Major Furisto. A dressage mark of 33.2 with just 0.4 timefaults to add in the Showjumping saw them finish 1.2 marks ahead of Sian Coleman, riding Late Jarvey’s Hush A Bye Baby. In third place was Michael O’Toole, riding his own First Obama. Lorraine was thrilled with her well deserved result-
“We have owned him since he was a yearling. He was very successful with Fraser Duffy earlier in his career, but a few leg niggles meant he was retired to the lower levels with me. He is a very confident horse, and he tends to think he’s right about everything! He’s an absolute dream horse and he was brilliant all weekend-I was particularly thrilled to showjump clear. We do a lot of dressage and compete in the amateur classes at eventing. He is such a fun horse, and he just loves cross country.”
Images courtesy of Radka Preislerova
Photo-Sam Watson and Imperial Sky.