Sarah Carless reports….
Taylor takes top honours at Belton
Riding KBIS Starburst, Taylor pipped Mark Todd and the Badminton-bound Leonidas II by 0.4 penalties, and in doing so took the first leg of the Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam. It was a good weekend for the regular British team rider who also finished fifth with Frog Rock. Piggy French, who is returning to top level competition this year following the birth of her son Max, finished third with Jayne McGivern’s Quarrycrest Echo.
The Lycetts Grantham Cup attracted a competitive field of 112 entries. After two days of dressage, Laura Collett held the lead with Grand Manoeuvre – the only combination to be awarded a sub-40 score with 39.8. New Zealander Jesse Campbell took up second position with Cleveland (41.0) with Germany’s Bettina Hoy and Designer 10 in third (41.7). After the first phase Taylor lay in ninth with the eventual winner.
The show jumping caused a fair number of penalties, including time faults but with a clear round Taylor put herself into contention going into cross country.
The cross country course, jointly designed by Captain Mark Phillips and Stuart Buntine, rode well, although Fences 12 (Lincolnshire County Council Wold), 13 (The Redhill Marina), 16 (Duncan & Toplis Wall) and 19 (Voltaire Design Logs) caused a few problems. Emma Hyslop-Webb and Pennlands Douglas picked up 50 penalties at Fence 6 (Cottages.com Hedges) for being judged to have jumped outside the flags, a new FEI rule for 2017, which would have previously resulted in elimination. The rule states that if a horse has attempted to jump the fence but has missed the flag, the rider can re-jump the obstacle and take 20 penalties or continue and if they are judged to have missed the flag receive 50 penalties.
The time optimum time of 6 minutes 17 seconds also proved hard to attain, with only four starters coming home without time penalties, although Taylor made the time with both of her horses. This pulled her up into the lead and with a few horses to complete she could not be beaten.
“I’m delighted with this win,” commented Taylor. “KBIS Starburst has had nearly two years off competition, and he does get nervous in an atmosphere of which there is plenty here, but I’ve worked hard on that and couldn’t be happier with his performance this weekend.”
Of her result third place French commented; “Quarrycrest Echo has done nothing wrong here; fifth after dressage in very good company and fantastic in both jumping phases. He upped his game and became a man today, he’s not a ‘little boy’ any more.”
The next leg of the Shearwater Tri-Star Grand Slam, which offers a winner takes all prize of £50,000 to the rider who can win three legs of the series, will be held at the Barefoot Estates
Burnham Market International Horse Trials (13-15 April).
The action at Belton Park International kicked off on Friday with two Novice, a Novice Under 18, Intermediate and Open Intermediate Under 21 sections.
An excellent dressage test gave Ballinteskin Rado room for error in the show jumping, en route to claiming Intermediate Section D with Angus Smales. Known as ‘Mouse’ at home, the eight-year-old has a dual career and spends all winter Field Mastering and Whipping In for the Fernie hunt with his owner, Sean Frankham.
Mouse spent his last day hunting on March 10th, and has been back in Angus’s yard for just 18 days. “He’s a very powerful horse and smart on the flat. Basically I school him all summer and Sean ruins my hard work all winter,” laughed Angus.
Philippa Nixon and Arctic Cruising won the Open Intermediate Under 21 Section E, while the Novice sections went to Lindsay Middleton riding Aaragon (Section A) and Sophie Johnson on Ernst (Section B). The Under 18 class (Section C) provided a win for Amelia Hattersley and Sappalot.
On Saturday the attention turned to the conclusion of the two CIC** classes, alongside the national Intermediate, Open Intermediate, Advanced and Advanced Under 25 classes.
Rosalind Canter took top honours in the first CIC**, riding Michele Saul’s No Excuse. Second after the dressage, a smart double clear moved Ros and No Excuse above first phase leaders Kitty King and Vendredi Biats, and Piggy French and Jump Jet III in third.
The other CIC** went to Sam Ecroyd and Arco BB, who had a healthy winning margin ahead of Ireland’s Sam Watson riding Imperial Sky. Third went to Nicky Roncoroni and Watts Burn.
Emilie Chandler on Denver VI took victory in Intermediate Section H. Owned by the Copestake family, Emilie has the ride while regular jockey Constance is competing in France. “We finished second in an open novice at Lincoln last month but this was my first Intermediate on him. I’m thrilled to have won, partly because it was unexpected and also because Belton is one of my favourite events,” said Emilie.
Fiona Breach and Kilcannon Harley Cruise won Saturday’s other Intermediate (Section G) whilst Paul Sims with Last Secret won the Open Intermediate (Section I). Paul took a second win with Badminton Wait-Listed Glengarnock in Sunday’s Advanced Section L.
The action concluded with Advanced and Open Intermediate classes. Italy’s Vitoria Panizzon took the win in Open Intermediate Section K with the popular flying grey mare Borough Pennyz. A host of Badminton entries took the top five places in the combined Advanced and Advanced Under 25 Section N, led by New Zealander Tim Price and Xavier Faer, currently the next horse on the wait list to be accepted into the main draw. He was followed by Oliver Townend on one of his three Badminton entries ODT Ghareeb, Australia’s Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh, Izzy Taylor and KBIS Briarlands Matilda and Tom McEwan and Toledo De Kerser. The best Under 25 in the Advanced section went to Imogen Murray riding Ivar Gooden, finishing in sixth place overall.
Spectator numbers smashed previous records for this increasingly popular event, with car parks filled to bursting point. “The weather gods were kind to us,” commented Event Director Stuart Buntine. “But year on year we offer great family entertainment as well as the obvious draw of the world’s best event riders and their horses, many of which will be heading to either Badminton or to America’s Rolex Kentucky next month. The ground was spot on for the horses in terms of not too hard, not too soft, and Captain Mark Phillips’s courses always give the riders something to think about – and therefore the spectators some excellent viewing. Tomorrow we start planning Belton International 2018.”
Photographs courtesy of Hannah Cole and Dave Cameron