Millie Wain reports…

Cornbury House Horse Trials returned to the British Eventing calendar with top class riders and horses competing over the weekend. The beautiful 5000-acre estate in Oxfordshire is owned by David Howden and Richard Clapham worked alongside Patricia Biden to organise the horse trials which provided a true international feel. There were, understandably, no spectators but Cornbury was broadcasted and streamed on its Facebook page, much to the delight of the sport’s fans who wanted to see world-class riders tackle the impressive jumping courses. There were four international sections: CCI3*S, CCI2*S and two youth performance sections held at CCI2*S and CCI3*S levels. Novice and Intermediate national classes.

The winners of the CCI3*S were Georgie Spence and the 12-year-old Uppercourt Cooley and they were lucky enough to take home the £2500 prize. Georgie labelled Corbury as “an amazing event. I hadn’t been when it ran before but it certainly is an amazing new addition to the event calendar.” The combination has formed a good partnership and have not finished out of the top 6 since their first event together in 2019. In fact, there has only been one occasion where they have not been on the podium. Georgie told us ‘I have had Uppercourt Cooley for a year; obviously with COVID have only managed a handful of events but he’s a very exciting prospect. He’s finished for 2020 as we wanted to finish on a high but will dressage and show jump over the winter ready for next season where we’ll aim for a 4*.” Just 5 combinations completed on their dressage scores in the CCI3*S, all of whom finished in the top 15. Piggy March and Ros Canter had their 7-year-old horses in the class and both secured their Le Lion qualifications and top 5 placings with I Diablo Joe and Izilot DHI respectively.

William Fox-Pitt won the CCI2*S riding Pep and Robert Glen’s Centurian Bay. This was an excellent win for the stunning 7-year-old gelding who was making his debut at international level. William described the win on his social media as ‘such a super win for Centurian Bay, and am thrilled for his owners’. The pair held onto their lead from the first phase by adding nothing to their impressive dressage score of 23 penalties. Just 0.9 penalties behind them was fellow Olympic teammate, Gemma Tattersall. She was riding Johan-some, a 6-year-old who was also making their debut at international level, having only started eventing at BE100 at the beginning of the 2020 season. Tom McEwen completed the top 3 in the 2* with MHS Brown Jack. They added 0.4 time penalties from the show jumping to their dressage score of 24.8 penalties. Tom had a busy weekend at Cornbury with 9 horses but it was successful, picking up 5 top 10 placings, including a win with Toledo de Kerser in the Open Intermediate. In fact, the combination achieved the best finishing score of the weekend, with a score of 20.2 penalties.

Louisa Lockwood took the win in the Intermediate section D with Crumlinpark Genie. Having been just outside the top 10 after the dressage with a score of 32.3, they climbed to the top of the leader board with a fast double clear and picking up just 2.8 cross country time penalties around the David Evans designed course. We spoke to Louisa following her win:

“Cornbury was amazing. It felt a bit like being a Blenheim or Burghley. Really friendly and well organised with fantastic courses and loads of warm up. The ground was spot on and they were big, bold courses but rode really well although just a bit twisty in places. I’ll definitely be back again next year. It feels like they should have a top 3 day there.

I’ve had Crumlinpark Genie for about a year. He was quite nervous and scared when I had him and we’ve taken our time building his confidence. He’s always been a super jumper and is really careful but just needs more to trust in his own ability and rider, especially in the show jumping. He is such a kind, sweet horse and everyone loves him at home. I might aim him for the 3*L at Bicton but haven’t decided yet but if his confidence keeps improving I think he has all the ability and class to carry on up the levels.”

Section M of the Open Novice was hotly contested, with just 1.7 penalties separating the top 6 and cross country time penalties being influential in determining final placings. Nevertheless, Charlotte Rowe came first aboard Leacourt Touch of Clover; they led from the start with a dressage score of 26 and added nothing to that. In second place was Giovanna Ugolotti riding Criscade Del Pavarino and Ian McCluggage completed the top 3 with Castletown Clover. Eventing Worldwide spoke to Charlotte after her win:

“I absolutely loved Cornbury. It is such a beautiful venue with great courses that make brilliant use of the ground. Leacourt Touch of Clover is a fabulous mare. She can be a bit of princess but is growing in confidence all the time and I think she has the ability to be a top horse and I am very excited about her. She will have another couple of intermediate runs before heading to Bicton for the 3*S to finish the season.”

Eventing’s ‘power couple’, Tim and Jonelle Price, had success in the Intermediate sections too; Jonelle took the win in section H with Killbunny Andy, finishing over 3 penalties ahead of Tim in second place. Tim was also riding Ringwood Sky Boy in section G and led from the start with a good score of 24.6 penalties.

The winner of the Open Intermediate section F was Kitty King riding the 8-year-old Cristal Fontaine, who is owned by Camilla and Alex Wakeley. The combination has had many impressive results, including a win in the 8 and 9-year-old Advanced section at Aston le Walls this season; they are certainly ones to watch over the next couple of years. After her win, Kitty posted on her social media pages about her time at Cornbury International:

“It was super to be back at the beautiful Cornbury House Horse Trials, having last competed here in 1999 in the JRN section where I finished 2nd. It’s a fantastic venue and the courses are beautiful, so I was delighted to go one better than on my last appearance to win the OI on the super consistent Cristal Fontaine. He did a lovely test to score 25.9 and jumped an immaculate double clear. It was a great prep run before his first CCI4*S at Burnham Market next week.”

Images courtesy Sophie Robbins

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