Event reports sponsored by Elite Horse Owners
Sarah Carless reports …
Carlile breaks record at Barbury
It was a record breaking weekend for French rider Thomas Carlile who dominated the Event Rider Masters at the St James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials.
In taking victory, Carlile joins 2016 ERM champion Oliver Townend as the only rider in the entire series to have topped the podium twice. Riding the nine-year-old stallion Upsilon, Carlile became the first rider in the series to lead from start to finish. His victory also ended the reign of Barbury expert Andrew Nicholson who has won at the Wiltshire event for the previous five years. On this occasion, the New
Zealander took second with his Badminton winner Nereo with Mark Todd in third with Leonidas II.
In the dressage, Carlile and Upsilon delivered a stunning dressage test, scoring a remarkable mark of 30.8 – the lowest ever seen across the entire series and a personal best for the combination. They were won of the favourites coming into the competition and they excelled under the expectation from the crowd.
Afterwards Carlile commented of Upsilon: “He is a very special horse with so much power and he just delivers that bit of extra spark when he has to, seducing the dressage judges and his fans. He’s such a team mate and a modern event horse and we will need to jump clear in the show jumping and be fast tomorrow on cross country if we are to win, but he is up to that and I will enjoy the pressure.”
Records kept being broken during the dressage with several personal best performances being produced from the 40 strong field of horses and riders. Andrew Nicholson and Nereo were a combination to join this club, with a score of 34.9 securing them second place as well as a personal best. And despite making an error of course, Jesse Campbell, riding the former racehorse Kaapachino, delivered a lovely test scoring 36.1 to take third.
Following a faultless showjumping performance, the combination set the Barbury crowd alight with a superlative jumping round on the cross country, which saw 10 riders withdraw before the final phase. Carlile set out like a man on a mission, and added just 1.6 time penalties to his dressage score to finish on a score of 32.4 – a record finishing score in the series – to scoop the £16,000 first prize.
“All my words go to Upsilon, he is superb” said Carlile reflecting on his win. “I just sit on him and let him get on with his business and he has risen to the occasion this weekend. He’s a class act and is certainly on form and hopefully there is a still lot more to come from him.”
Nicholson, paid tribute to his horse Nereo saying; “Nereo did a wonderful job. We stayed in a nice rhythm on cross country as I felt Thomas and Upsilon had a strong lead, so didn’t want to scorch around trying to catch them. I expected them to deliver and they did. My fellow is a wonderful horse and we know each other very well. I am delighted for him and all his connections.”
Former Double Olympic champion Sir Mark Todd celebrated his first ERM podium finish, taking third place. A win or placing in the series has eluded Todd to date, but his ride Leonidas II was foot perfect in both the showjumping and cross country, finishing on a score of 42.3.
“It’s gone very well this weekend. I have been fighting ERM demons in previous legs, but it’s all come together today. Barbury is one of the most beautiful eventing venues in the world and it’s a great to be part of the series and finally get on the podium.”
Following his victory in the third leg of the ERM, Carlile now tops the overall 2017 ERM series scoreboard with 56 points, having taken third place in the opening leg of the series at Chatsworth. Britain’s Sarah Cohen, who won at Wiesbaden and took sixth at Chatsworth, is in second with 51 points and New Zealander Andrew Nicholson is lying third with 50 points. Britain’s Gemma Tattersall also has 50 points to her name, having won at Chatsworth and taking seventh place at Barbury. The next leg of the series takes place at Haras de Jardy, France (15th and 16th July).
William Fox-Pitt collected his biggest win since returning to competition following a serious head injury in 2015 when he scooped the CIC***.
The last to go on Mark Phillips’s influential track, the former world number one rode with skill and determination on new ride Clifton Signature to finish just four seconds over the optimum time and seal victory being greeted by a huge cheer at the finish.
Australian Bill Levett performed the best dressage in the CIC***, scoring a remarkable 36.1 on Lassban Diamond Lift. However, the combination withdrew from the competition following their test, leaving Kristina Cook and Billy The Red in pole position (40.4) with Fox-Pitt, who had led after the first day of dressage, in third (40.7).
Having jumped clear in the show jumping to maintain her lead, Cook withdrew Billy The Red before cross-country leaving Fox-Pitt in the lead. And adding just 1.6 penalties to his score the British rider took the win with a final score of 42.3.
Fox-Pitt last won the class in 2005 on Ballincoola, and although he has won at two-star level since returning from injury, this is easily his most pressured and high-profile victory. His victory put him ahead of Barbury specialist Andrew Nicholson who came second on his rising star Swallow Springs, whilst British number one Oliver Townend finished third on Note Worthy.
“It’s my biggest win for ages; a great surprise,” said Fox-Pitt, for whom it was only a second ride on Frances Stead’s Clifton Signature – a horse, formerly ridden by Jock Paget, which is for sale. “I’m not known for winning one-day events – I usually have loads of time faults – and I wasn’t sure this morning that I was going to go for it. But then I thought “I’ll have a go” and the horse got better and better. I like him – he’s fun, he’s no nonsense and he’s well trained and knows what to do.”
Emily King scored her first international win taking the two-star section D on Jane Del Missier’s 13-year-old mare Walitze F Vejgard.
Twenty-one-year-old King has not had the luckiest of seasons so far and she admitted this was something of a boost. “It’s nice when your luck turns,” she commented. “Walitze is really good at this two-star level. She’s quite a sharp mare, has an amazing gallop and moves like a dressage horse.”
There were more celebrations when King’s boyfriend, Sam Ecroyd, captured section E on The Quiet Man, an eight-year-old by Quiet Edition. Ecroyd has had the gelding since he was purchased as a three-year-old at Brightwell’s sale at Addington. “This is the best he’s ever felt – he just cruised round,” he commented.
American rider Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp won section C on the Dutch-bred Deniro Z. She bought the
nine-year-old from Sussex-based rider Francis Whittington as a horse to sell, but is now excited by Deniro’s potential and has managed to get a syndicate together to buy the nine-year-old.
Only a handful of riders achieved the optimum time over Mark Phillips’s fair but imposing course and Elisabeth was the only one in her section. “I think he’s a real four-star horse,” she commented. “He gallops and is brave. The cross-country course rode really nicely, but you have to commit to get the time.”
The St James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials also boasted a range of domestic classes including the Retraining of Racehorses class run at Intermediate Novice.
Izzy Taylor dominated the competition taking first and third places on Alex Phillips’s Zippi Jazzman and Star of Memory. Gemma Plastow was second on Laurentian Lad.
This is the tenth running of this prestigious class, which is sponsored by the charity Retraining of Racehorses and the National Trainers Federation with the aim of finding alternative careers for ex-racehorses, especially those off the Flat.
Alex Phillips bought Zippi Jazzman, a 12-year-old chestnut gelding by Dixieland Band, at Ascot Sales for just 500 guineas. The horse had run 11 times on the Flat, winning once, when trained by Ralph Beckett. He lives at home with his owner and Izzy is now competing both horses in eventing.
“All my horses are pets,” said Alex. “This is a lovely competition for these horses and it will just be fun to see how far they go in eventing.”
Izzy took home the £2,000 first prize and 2017 ROR Championship crown, following in the footsteps of Harry Meade who won it last year with Sparky’s Reflection.
On top of his international victory, William Fox-Pitt also took victory on Friday with a win on Georgisaurous in Novice Section G. Christopher Burton posted an impressive score of 14.8 to win Novice Section I with Lawtown Girl, saying afterwards that he can’t wait to fast forward four years. The final Pony Trial (Section K) was won by Gerogia Herrling and SF Detroit, with selectors due to name the Great British team who will contest the FEI European Championships for Ponies which takes place in Kaposvár, Hungary, at the end of the month.
Other results: Novice Section F Tiana Coudray, G; Novice Section H Oliver Townend, A Sportsfield Diamond; Open Novice Section J John Paul Sheffield, Woodlander Wesuvio; Intermediate Novice Section M Helen Witchell, Guaranteed Quality; Intermediate Novice Section N Piggy French, Cooley Monsoon.
Photographs courtesy of Phil J Photos
ERM Cross Country