Sarah Carless reports…..

Evans takes emotional victory at Belton

Jonty Evans claimed an emotional victory at this year’s Belton International Horse Trials, lifting the 2018 Lycetts Grantham Cup.
Riding Cooley Rorkes Drift, the Irishman topped CIC*** (Section M) to take his first international competition against stiff competition from a host of world class riders. The Irishman hit the headlines last year when he successfully crowd-funded £500,000 to buy his Rio 2016 Olympic mount when the previous owner decided to sell.

Evans confessed: “I’ve never even won an Advanced class, let alone an international. This is amazing. Art is the horse who has given me the most pleasure and the most grief in one go over the years. What people did for me in securing our partnership is unprecedented in our sport. This win is the fairy dust; a good performance was what we needed with Badminton looming. Everyone wants this horse to go well, my phone hasn’t stopped pinging.”

Behind Jonty were two other Badminton-bound riders; Piggy French with Vanir Kamira in second and Gemma Tattersall with Pamero 4 in third.

French commented: “Given the results were so close, of course I wish I’d gone a bit quicker – she can easily go faster, but this was a prep run and with the spring we’ve had weather-wise, today wasn’t the day to push. Jonty’s win is great for the sport. So many people supported him last year, this is a great result for all of them too.”

Flora Harris won the Polly Phillips Memorial Trophy, awarded to the highest placed British Rider who has yet to compete on a senior championship team. Harris finished fourth riding Bayano with whom she will also compete at Badminton.

The class was full of combinations entered for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials – indeed 35 of the 103 entrants will be aiming for the CIC**** in two weeks time.
Due to the huge number of entries, a second CIC*** also ran, for less experienced horses (Section N) but competition was still hot. But Tom Jackson won through, topping the table with Billy Cookoo. Austin O Connor took second with Lucky Contender and Emily Philp finished third with Camembert. But a number of riders entered for Badminton also ran in this class, with Georgie Spence and Wii Limbo finishing the highest in fifth, having just heard they had made it off the wait list.

Australia’s Christopher Burton claimed CIC** Section H riding Bahira M in a close fought battle, with Chris finishing less than one penalty point ahead of Emily Baldwin and Uppercourt Cooley.

Reigning Junior European Champions Bubby Upton and Eros DHI had a much larger winning margin in CIC** section H. Finishing on their dressage score of 24.9 they recorded a 3.5 penalty advantage over Newark based fellow Junior team mate Lizzie Baugh and Quarry Man.

“Eros is incredibly special – he’s done so much for me. Basically he is very cocky and he thinks he’s amazing. I’m sure that’s why he is so competitive,” said Bubby, who is hoping to catch the eye of the selectors again this year. The team here have done an incredible job, working on the cross country track overnight, rolling the course to make the going good for today. I can’t thank them enough.”

Aside from the international classes, Belton hosted a raft of national classes. Emily King claimed the first of three Novice sections riding Kings Rose to victory in Section A, with Kitty King topping Novice Section B aboard Cristal Fontaine.

Lauren Blades won Novice Section C riding Rodnikova Dream. Lauren said of Angela Schumann’s seven-year-old Rodnikova Dream that she thinks the sky might be the limit for this horse.

She said: “Angela approached me out of the blue this time last year, inviting me to ride Roddy, who is the last of her homebred horses. She’s been so trusting and given me a totally free rein in producing him. He isn’t a ‘big yard’ horse – he loves a lot of individual attention, and as long as he wants to do something he has huge ability so it’s up to me to make sure he enjoys it! He was great today, and despite the overnight rain the ground on the cross-country course was remarkably good.”

The Open Novice Under 18 (Section D) was won by Daisy Hammond and Apollos Copywright, while the Under 21 Open Intermediate (Section G) went to Mollie Summerland, with her own nine-year-old Charly Van Ter Heiden.

Friday’s two intermediate classes were won by Rio Olympian’s; New Zealander Tim Price claimed Section F aboard Spartaco, while Ireland’s Jonty Evans took Section E on Dreamliner. Piggy French won Intermediate Section J with Castletown Clover with a 7.3 winning margin thanks to being the only one in the class to make the optimum time, whilst Harry Meade took Open Intermediate Section K with Tenareze with Ireland’s Austin O’Connor topping Open Intermediate Section L with Colorado Blue.

New Zealand riders dominated Advanced Section O, taking the top three places. Jonelle Price and Classic Moet, bound for Badminton, topped the leaderboard, ahead of Andrew Nicholson on Swallow Springs and Dan Jocelyn riding Grovine de Reve in third. Advanced Section P was won by Izzy Taylor and Direct Cassino.

Photographs courtesy of Hannah Cole Photography

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