Sarah Carless reports….
As the eventing season draws to a close, Bicton Arena was in a celebratory mood for its four-day international competition.
The fixture follows the cancellation of its August event and acted as a replacement of the event scheduled to take place at Aldon. It attracted a line-up of top-class riders with a high number of entries across all of its classes.
Helen Marsh and her stunning mare Disco Chick were the winners of the long format CCI* (Section A), a win that was all the more satisfying for Helen as she badly injured her leg earlier in the season and still suffers from nerve damage. The pair lay in third after the dressage scoring 27.5, and moved up to second after cross country. They jumped clear on the final day, and when Molly Faulkner and Call Me Cooley collected a single penalty Helen inherited the win.
Helen says that the seven-year-old can be hot headed but commented: “she moves so well that she gets away with it. She did canter in her walk in the dressage test. She came to be sold and I ended up buying her. She’d either bounce or go flat out but she really tries and is a lovely horse.”
Second place went to Molly Faulkner with Call Me Cooley and Marcelo Tosi taking third with Starbucks I.
Since back to back victories in the Mitsubishi Motors Cup, Katie Hancock has had risen through the eventing levels with tremendous success. Her 2018 season was capped with victory in the CIC**. Riding her Shire x TB Coddstown Pet, with whom she won the Mitsubishi Motors Cup BE100 final in 2017, the pair finished on their dressage score of 29.8.
Sitting in joint fourth after the dressage, two fault free jumping rounds saw them saw to the top of the leader board in Section B. Katie started eventing as a hobby, but the bug truly bit and now aspires to ride around Badminton’s formidable four-star track.
Katie commented afterwards: “She’s been absolutely amazing and she’s surpassed everything I thought she’d be. I always knew she was a good mare but she’s so quick for a shire cross thoroughbred and now she’s Is going around these cross-country courses. She’s qualified to go advanced and three star now so we’ll see, but I’d love to do Badminton.”
Ella Woodhead finished second with former four-star eventer Westwood Mariner, whilst Tom McEwen finished in third with The Magician.
Alicia Hawker and Quantanamo Z wer the victors in CIC* Section C to end their first season as a combination on a high. Lying fourth after the dressage the pair took victory by keeping a clean sheet in the jumping phases.
Alicia, who is based in Wiltshire, commented: “I’m only just getting to know him, but he’s a lovely kind, genuine horse. It was great fun riding him across country as he’s a very straight horse and capable.”
Sam Gillespe finished second with Coupe du Monde DB Z with Melissa Joannides finishing third with Uncle Jesmond. Sam travelled from Leicestershire to compete and said: “It was our first time here, and its been well worth the journey. I’ve been gifted the ride on Claude by a really good friend of mine who is at university and doesn’t have the time. He’s a lovely horse and so easy to do.”
The CIC* for six- and seven-year olds went the way of Phoebe Locke and Russal Z. A new ride for Phoebe, this was only the pairs second event together. This pairing were also fourth after the dressage but jumped to victory with a clear round inside the optimum time on the cross country.
Phoebe commented: “She’s such a special horse and she cruised around the cross country, making the time easy. Hopefully next year we’ll aim her for Tattersalls for the six and seven-year-old championships and maybe a two star, with the World Championships for her age group at Le Lion the goal.”
David Sheerin, general manager and head coach at Wellington Riding in Hampshire, finished second with Todays Special with Ben McClumpha in third with Gulio.
Bicton also hosted two three-day event format classes for competitors at BE100 level.
Section E was won by Cheryl Beer and Madam Butterfly VI. It proved a busy three days for Cheryl who juggled competing with her day job as a hairdresser at her salon, a business she owns with Carolyn Hepworth, her best friend and co-owner of Madam Butterfly.
It was a last-minute entry for Cheryl who was persuaded by Jane Rogers to compete as part of the First Team To Enter team along with Janou Bleekman and Hannah Ross-Franks. The team proved victorious with Jane also finishing second on Corrieview Merlin Magic, Janou third on Jannimesa Jewel and Hannah 11th on George VIII.
“It’s all down to Jane that I rode,” said Cheryl. “It’s like winning Badminton to me, I had such. good team and we all got on so well supporting each other. The event here was amazing and being local to Bicton makes it even more special. I’ve ridden Butterfly since she was nine and she’s 17 now and she was fantastic today.”
Open Section F was won by Ben Lee Liles with Urlingford Tom. Second place went to Joshua Levett, following in the famous footsteps of his father Bill, and Ballymore Rich Cat with Susan Bill and Toms Diamond in third.
Harry Meade had a successful trip to the Devon venue with two wins to his name – in BE100 Section I with Castle Howard Octavian, a horse previously ridden by Tim Rogers, and Open Intermediate Section O with Gideon – a third win of the year for the pair.
David Doel dominated the Novice classes, taking first and second place in both Section K and Section L. His win in Section K came courtesy of Granito DHI with Man About Town II taking second, whilst Section L was won by Royal Crusade II with Reybridge Rover Danz taking second.
Other section results: BE100 Section G Josefien Snijder, Spellbound Lexicon; BE100 Section H Megan Ellis, Martins Irish Buzz; BE100 Section J Jo May, Elitair; Open Novice Under 18 Section M Harrison Chart, Direct Cruising; Intermediate Section N Louise Harwood, Brechfa Baruch; BE100 Open Under 18 Section P Callum Robertson, Ferro Curry; BE100 Open Under 18 Section Q Lottie Adams, Lex V. jess
Images courtesy of Tanzy Lee