Sarah Carless reports…
Thomas Carlile gave a Barbury masterclass to repeat his victory of 12 months ago in the Event Rider Masters. Riding Upsilon, the pair led from the start to pick up their third win in the series; as well as winning at this event in 2017, they also won at Blenheim Palace in 2016.
It was a cross Atlantic affair following the dressage, with American Liz Halliday-Sharpe and France’s Thomas Carlile tying for the lead on a score of 24.9.
Halliday-Sharp scored one of the few 9s that were awarded during the day with her long-time partner Fernhill By Night which helped the smash their previous best Barbury dressage score by 10.4 marks.
After her said she commented: “I’m so thrilled. He can be a really lazy horse – he didn’t have a good test at Arville so I have worked really hard to make the plan right for him and not over do the work up to get him in his happy place and I think we nailed it today. He felt with me and he really tried; he had a really good time in there. He’s so much fun to ride when he is like this so he deserved this score and I am happy for him.”
Going shortly after Halliday Sharpe, Carlile and his stallion Upsilon produced a super test with just one mistake, which probably cost them the overall lead, in the counter canter putting the pair in joint top spot.
The Frenchman commented afterwards: “I’m happy. Maybe we were a bit too relaxed but he is just smooth now. He warmed up really quickly – may be a bit too quickly as he felt really smooth straight away and it was a really good feeling so I did try and keep him relaxed because if the hear. I went in there and he didn’t feel casual but may be a bit too relaxed and I didn’t want to override him. He slipped a change in when he wasn’t supposed to so maybe I have to be a bit more vigilant about that. Towards the end of the test I was very happy. My extended canter was very good.”
World number one Oliver Townend and Cillnabradden Evo headed down the centreline as the final combination of the day. Producing yet another consistently correct test the combination scored of 25.3 to lie in third place.
With joint leaders, the show jumping became all the more influential. But the first into the ring gave the impression that clear rounds would be flowing. British rider Matthew Heath and Sportsfield Lord Livesly made it look easy but faultless rounds were not as forthcoming as first thought. In all, only seven riders went clear with the top ten looking very different from the dressage.
One of the shocks was 2016 series winner Oliver Townend with Cillnabradden Evo, who broke their run of clears in the show jumping when they had four poles down dropping them out of Leg 4 contention. They then withdrew before the cross country.
Joint leaders Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night dropped into second place after the show jumping with four faults, opening the door for Carlile and Upsilon, who held their lead with a clear round.
Only 22 combinations went cross country and time was the winning factor. Riding a mature confidence-giving round, Carlile and Upsilon proved their class once again and re-affirmed their place as the new Kings of Barbury. Adding just 0.4 time penalties to their leading dressage they finished on top of the ERM podium for the second year running.
The Frenchman commented: “He really delivered today; Upslion loves Barbury and I do too. Only three wins left and we can equal the legend, Andrew Nicholson. He did lose a bit of confidence at the Europeans and he showed it again in Arville – I think he just needs a couplemnice runs like today before we think about anything else too big.”
British rider Gemma Tattersall, the 2017 Series winner, stormed round the cross country with Pamero 4 to finish in the runner-up spot – her first series podium finish this year. The pair had been in sixth after dressage and rose to second with a clear round in the show jumping. They kept this spot following the cross country, adding just 1.6 time penalties.
Tattersall commented: “It’s taken me a while (to get back on the podium) but were back here and that’s really good. Pamero 4 was awesome today – he was super special so I’m really proud of the horse.
Chris Burton didn’t disappoint out on course. Delivering a masterclass in cross country riding with an incredible clear inside the time – the only rider to do so, with the Australian and Trisha Rickard’s Polystar I finishing in third place on 34.8.
He commented: “It’s a privilege to be on a horse like that. Everybody keeps saying I am a fast rider but really, he is an amazing animal and that’s part of the job. We’re thinking about the series – we’re off to Jardy so we’ll see how we get on.”
Burton now sits on top of the series standings with 75 points. Britain’s Laura Collett is hot on his heals with 70 points with last year’s series champion Gemma Tattersall in third with 54 points. The Event Rider Masters now heads to Leg 5 at Haras de Jardy, France. (14 & 15 July 2018).
Images courtesy of Hannah Cole Photography