Ruth Gregory reports ..
Burgham held its annual event last weekend, marking six years with international status! The list of starters was decorated with some of the very best current combinations in the sport, as they gear up for their autumn campaign, including several horses vying for a place at the European Championships in late August as team sectors and Performance Coach Chris Bartle kept a close eye.
Kitty King and Vendredi Biats certainly showed the British selectors their dominance by claiming Burgham’s no.1 prize, the Newton Hall CCI4*-L title. King and the striking grey gelding kept their cool to jump a foot perfect double clear and rise to the top of the leader board from their third place after dressage. David Evan’s built another demanding track, incorporating the farmlands natural undulations and hills to ask some accurate and bold questions.
But with the Bramham CCI4*-L title already in the bag from June, Kitty and Vendredi Biats, who’s owned by Diana Brown, Sally Eyre, Samantha Wilson and Sally Lloyd Baker, were on form to fly around the course gaining only 4.4-time faults.
“I’m thrilled to win this-it’s always a great class up here and very competitive, full of the best horses. Vendredi Biats felt really good in all three phases and did it all easily. It’s been well worth the 7hr drive!”
The leader after dressage was of course the ever-consistent partnership of Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class, owned by Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan. With the pairing being victorious in the class last year and finishing within the top 2 at each of their events this season, it was no surprise that they were favourites to retain their crown. However, the gelding dropped fence 10 show jumping to give Kitty the opportunity to steal the win.
The 12-year-old was having his first international run since Badminton and Oliver having only just come back to competing after being briefly side lined with an injury from a fall at Bishop Burton.
But the duo was far from out of practice, showing their class across the country to secure second place and finish only 2.2 penalties behind King.
Making up the top 3 was another one of Britain’s stars, Izzy Taylor and Springpower. Izzy’s cross-country riding spoke for itself as she made it look like a schooling round with the second fastest cross-country time of the day.
Whilst Irish rider Tony Kennedy stormed around the course on Westeria Lane to be the only combination in the class to finish with no time penalties and come an eventual ninth.
Piggy French nailed her ninth international win of the 2019 season by claiming the Howard Russell CCI3*-S title upon John and Judith Addicott’s and the March Stud’s Highdown March. It was only the eight-year-old gelding’s second ever CCI3*-S having finished 4th at Rockingham international in May at his first attempt at the level. Piggy’s experience shone as the pairing cruised around the jumping phases to finish on their dressage of 29.7.
“He was a later starter in life, but he’s a really genuine, talented, scopey horse who’s got everything going for him. He’s super-easy to ride- you could ride him in a headcollar.”
It was a double cause for celebration in the French camp as young rider Susie Berry, who’s based at Piggy’s Northamptonshire yard, finished runner up. She rode Helen Caton’s John The Bull and was lying in third place after dressage.
But when the leader Oliver Townend and the double Kentucky 5* winner Cooley Master Class ran slowly cross country in prep for the autumn and Izzy Taylor and PSH Lava Flow were eliminated after an unfortunate fall in the show jumping, Susie gained a place.
Unluckily she rolled a pole in the show jumping to allow her mentor to leap frog her going into the cross-country phase. Susie and the gelding finished with a great ride cross country, as one of only 3 riders to go inside of the time, keeping firm hold of her deserved second place.
Harry Meade made the strenuous journey North worthwhile by dominating the Metnor Group CCI2*-S. He took the win with Peter Harris’s chestnut gelding Merrywell Tradition, as well as grabbing another podium finish in third with John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn’s six-year-old Brookfield Cruise. Blyth Tait MBE already designed Burgham’s national tracks and was making his international debut with the CCI2*-S course.
Harry answers all of Blyth’s questions as horses both jumped effortless double clears, to finish on their dressage scores.
In between the two Meade rides in second was Tom Jackson with Ask for Manchier, the stunning grey, owned by SHE Eventing jumped an eye catching double clear to also finish on their dressage.
Leading after dressage in the CCI2*-S was Cheshire based rider Robyn Gray with Jan Ball’s, Gelukkig with an impressive score of 27.1. Unfortunately, the pairing rolled 2 poles show jumping to drop them out of contention.
“She’s known as Pumpkin, and really tries hard in the arena and I can be really brave with the movements. Her owner Jan Ball has been so patient with both her and me and we’re hoping this is the mare showing more good things to come.”
Robyn’s other ride Harrison IV owned by Mrs Vicki Irlam jumped a lovely double clear to finish on his dressage of 34.5, leaving them just outside the top 10 in 11th.
OI section G; Oliver Townend, Ulises; OI section H; Izzy Taylor, Springwind Vangelis; ON section F; Storm Straker, Roma Victor; Novice section D; Caroline Powell, Greenacres Special Cavalier; Novice section E; James Sommerville, Miss Pandora; Novice section F2, Oliver Townend, Nelson De La Pomme; BE100 section I; Emma Hobday, Shadow Shannondale; BE100 section J; Jamie Atkinson, Cooley Empire; BE90Open section M2; Lucinda Atkinson, Capital Investment; BE90 section L2; Emma Metcalfe, Irbine; BE90 section M; Diasy Job, Justso Georgia; 5YO section K; Adam Morgan, Manfriday; 4YO Section L; Tina Canton, Shananshah
Images courtesy of Hannah Cole Photography