Sarah Carless reports …..

Grassroots Badminton bound riders make their mark at Epworth

Epworth made a successful debut on the British Eventing calendar on the opening weekend of the season, attracting 450 entries. 

The South Yorkshire venue offered two days of competition, with classes from BE80(T) to BE100 Open, giving riders in the north of the country their first outing of the year, and offered a great start to the season for two riders who will be heading to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup final in May. 

Vicki Fahey and I Blame Bertie got their preparations for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup underway with a win in BE90 Section G. Bertie was originally bought for her 11-year-old daughter who does Pony Club with him as well as competing in schools’ competitions. Before hanging up her boots Vicki evented when she was Junior and Young Rider, and also rode on the flat, winning winning the Ladies race at Ascot on King George Day. 

Vicki told Eventing Worldwide: “I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. Bertie did a fab test and to finish on his dressage score was perfect. He’s a super little horse very consistent. He really is a great fun mother daughter share. I only started Eventing him to keep him ticking over for my daughter. Now I find myself Eventing and really enjoying it again. It was my first season back last year, he won three BE90’s including the Yorkshire Challenge a Frickley. He’s going to be for sale after Mitsubishi motors Cup, which is very sad but we need a 14.2 and I can’t keep them all.” 

Millie Mahoney was another Mitsubishi Motors Cup qualifier who got her season underway with a win. She took BE90 Section I with Mary Star – a 10-year-old 14.2 Connemara mare whom Millie has owned for three years. They finished on their dressage score of 25.5. 

Twelve-year-old Millie, a member of the Percy Pony Club, told Eventing Worldwide: “Mary is a big character. She has skin, eye and breathing problems and always wants the last word but is so brave and trusting that we normally manage to muddle through most things. We only started BE last season and were so surprised to qualify for Badminton Grassroots. I was really glad that Epworth was able to go ahead as the Mitsubishi Motors Cup takes place in early May and I really wanted the run to see whether we were on track or not. I can’t believe that we won on Sunday and it is the first ever BE win for Mary and me so it was definitely worth the six-hour round trip – all the Epworth organisers were so friendly and helpful despite the weather.

Of the Mitsubishi Motors Cup she added: “I know that riding at Badminton will mean competing against some really awesome horses and riders – and it is a big ask as I will be one of the youngest riding there as I am 12 years old and Mary will be one of the smallest horses. Mary and I are working really hard so we can still hold our heads up high wherever we finish. We have learnt everything together but we have had lots of help and support from so many incredible people especially Lesley Turnbull-Hall, Jane Adderley, Philippa McKeever-Curry, Will Murray and Craig Anderson.”

Nicola Wilson got her season off to a good start with her string of horses. Her success included a win in BE100 Open Section A with JL Dublin, as well as a third place in BE100 Section C on All We Need and a sixth in BE100 Section D on Shannonview Glory. 

Richmond rider Katie Magee had a successful weekend, winning BE100 Open Section B with Enceladus and coming second with Grand Amour A in BE100 Section E. Sara Bowe was another rider with multiple placings. She won BE100 Section C on Kingsleypark Panther and came third in BD100 Section D with Quinara. Samantha Hobbs also picked up two top ten placings. Her victory came in BE100 Section D on Lime Rickey with a fourth place in BE100 Open Section B with Treforda. 

Other section results; BE100 Section E Carole Dennis, Edison NJ; BE90 Section F Helen Howard, Clydagh Fair Bawn; BE90 Open Section H Lauren Hayton, Billy Ball; BE90 Section J Stephen Thompson, Millhouse Montaire; BE90 Section K Helen Scholl, Jagos Mill; BE80 Section L Connie Russell, WSH Orlando; BE80 Section M Lucy Barker, Sonnet to Shannon; BE80 Section N Emma Murphy, Millie Mouse. 

Photographs courtesy of KLS Equine Photography http://www.klsequinephotography.com

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