Ruth Gregory reports …
This weekend saw the long-awaited return of the eventing season. Epworth was one of three events across the country, designated to kick off the year. The South Yorkshire, based event, ran solely national classes from BE80T to BE100Plus, across the course of the weekend, 2nd and 3rd March.
Finn Healey, started the season on a high with a win in the BE100open section D on board his relatively new partner, Midnight Dancer II,
“I was really pleased with him and didn’t expect to win,” said Finn, “I was using it as a practice run before my first pony trial at Oasby, so to win was a really the cherry on the top!”
The gelding was previously campaigned by Finn’s sister Ellie, where the pair represented team GB at the 2018 pony European championships, until Finn, was finally handed the reins at the end of last year. The combination dominated the section from the off to finish on their dressage score of 30.8.
“He kept his head in the dressage and stayed relaxed to produce a very smart test. Then he jumped a fabulous double clear, which has set us up perfectly for next weekend!”
Their season carries on next weekend at Oasby, where hopefully their good fortune will continue. “The dream would be to make the European team,” said Finn. “However, I am trying to take it one event at a time and have fun competing at pony trials!”
It was a weekend dominated by young riders as 12-year-old Lucy Baguley, won the BE100 section A riding, Darwin IV.
“I’ve had Darwin for three years having bought him locally from Saffy Haris, who had previously hunted him,” said Lucy. “Hence why he’ll jump anything!” The combination finished on their dressage score of 30.3. “I’ve worked really hard over the winter on my dressage, especially with Darwin,” said Lucy, “he’s not been the easiest on the flat but everything is beginning to make sense to him.” The pairing now head to Oasby to start their pony trial campaign next weekend.
Runners up in the section were Nicola Wilson, and the six-year-old gelding, Hawk Eye. They narrowly missed out on top spot to finish on a collective score of 30.8
It was a very successful weekend for Lucy, as her other ride Charlie Go Go, finished second in the BE100 section B. “Charlie in my knight in shining armour,” said Lucy, “always wanting to please and always so consistent.” She now aims the gelding for the U18s BE100 Championships, where they were successful in representing the East Midlands last season despite it being Lucy’s first eventing season.
Ahead of Lucy, was Alex Hill, with Banbridge De Reve. The gelding, who completed the five-year-old championships at Osberton International last season, put in a super performance to finish on his dressage score of 25.5.
Alex’s, other ride BallyGriffin Doc Cider, also had a top result finishing second in section B. “I’m really proud of both horses at their first event, they both made it feel really easy,” said Alex. “BallyGriffin Doc Cider is improving in his confidence tenfold!” The gelding only accumulated four showjumping faults to finish on a score of 34.0.
“All the winter training has paid off in their dressage marks and they both ate up the cross country,” explained Alex. “These two are very different horses but extremely talented!”
She aims that the duo will make the step up to novice level within the next few months.
Another young rider, Florence White, won the BE100open section E with Brilliant Twilight. The gelding was bought by Florence’s mum as a five-year-old from Ireland, who produced him until Florence, gained the reins last summer. “Jo (Brilliant Twilight), was delightful to ride in the dressage,” said Florence, “he is a huge horse but very responsive, straightforward and kind.”
The pair scored the lowest finishing score of the weekend to add nothing to their dressage of 23.3. “He is very light to ride and reads his fences from miles out. I am very lucky to have a horse like him to learn on.”
They now head to the ONU18 at Lincoln with aims of the GB junior teams in the future.
Lucy York, took the BE100plus top spot with Dandy Cruise,
“I didn’t believe it at first when it was announced that I had won,” said Lucy, “me and my parents were over the moon and we did all share some happy tears!” Lucy piloted the gelding to a faultless jumping performance to finish on their dressage of 34.8. “Danny, just felt incredible, it was as if he had never had a winter break!” Said Lucy, “We both enjoy cross country the most and he definitely showed that as he was popping all the fences and combinations with ease.”
Lucy is aiming to compete at Chatsworth International in the late spring, as well as, be selected for the U18 team for the third consecutive season. “I’m hoping to do a few 2* events as well this year as I feel Danny has the scope for it and it is something new which we can experience together!”
Sara Bowe, and MHS Seventeen, took the BE90open section I adding nothing to their score of 30.5. The gelding’s owner Deirdre Johnston, bought him for Sara to ride last season.
“He was super green,” said Sara, “so the aim was for me to bring him on this year.” The gelding’s started the season with a run of good results, including a second in the East Midlands unaffiliated one day event held at Obsberton last weekend. He is now aimed to make the step up to BE100 level next weekend at Oasby and then to novice with hopes of the six-year-old championships at the end of the season. “I’m very fond of the horse and the improvement in his confidence since he arrived is huge,” said Sara, “hopefully he has a bright future!”
BE100 Section C: Isla Gordon, Coole Lady: BE90 Section F: Laura Bennett, Salik: BE90 Section G: Heather Urquhart, Crafty Wizard: BE90 Section H: Katy Williams, Koko VD Zoute Stables: BE90 Section J: Annie Smith, Annaghmore Lad: BE90 Section K: Deirdre Johnston, Kingsleypark Patch: BE90 Section L: Kathryn Woolley, Oberonza: BE80(T) Section M: Eliza Yeardley, Dysart Dunn: BE80(T) Section N: Sophie Morice, Solmier: BE80(T) Section O: Rebecca Warren, Cynheidrefawr Cadwaladr Ceredig
Images Courtesy of RJC Photography