EVENT REPORTS – Firle International

Sarah Carless reports…

Helen Witchell and Castlerichmond William were the winners of the CIC* feature class at this weekend’s Firle Palace International Horse Trials.

The pair won the competitive class, which featured 47 combinations, by 5.1 penalties to finish on their dressage score of 22.9. Elisabeth Halliday Sharp took second with Cooley Moonshine with Gaspard Maksud in third with Pizzazz II. Witchell also took victory in BE100 Section R with A Cooley Deal Breaker topping off a successful weekend.

Melissa Joannides continued her successful season with another win, this time with Prometheus II in BE100 Section I. The West-Sussex based event rider has a string of horses from BE90 to 2* and she currently leads the British Eventing Foundation Points Rider League, whilst one of the horses she rides, Ashford Cleave Little Man, is the leading Foundation Points Horse League.

Prometheus II, or Percy, is a 5-year-old Sports Pony Studbook graded stallion owned by Katy Wise, who bred him out of her own mare to the sire Romulus.

Melissa told Eventing Worldwide: “He arrived at my yard in April having started an early career in show jumping so it was a case of seeing how he took to the cross country. He jumped everything first time schooling so figured it was time to get out and have a go. Although he had never seen white boards before and didn’t know what a 20 metre circle was, he didn’t seem phased by anything and has slowly been getting to grips with it all. He started with three BE90 Open classes, placing top ten in two of those and we then stepped him up to his first BE100 at Smiths Lawn where he produced a double clear and third place. Firle was only his second BE100, so I couldn’t have been more thrilled for him to take the win. I took him for my first lesson with my trainer Robbie Carpenter the week before, which helped us gain best dressage of 26.5, followed by a double clear. Percy is showing all the right attributes to be a really fantastic stallion, with a superb temperament and willingness to give everything a go. He is becoming a cross country machine. As he is still very young, only turning five in June this year, I will continue to educate him this season before hopefully moving up next year.”

Melissa’s season has seen her gain an astounding 58 top ten placings at BE competitions with her victory at Firle Place being her 13thwin.

She added: “It’s been a really strong year for me in terms of results. Myself and my team have worked so endlessly hard so it’s really rewarding that those hours are paying off, especially after the tough winter we had. I have a great rapport with my current horses which I think really helps to get the best out of the horse. Although they are all very different, I spend a lot of time getting to know their individual personalities and what works for them. I have some strong support behind me, from owners, trainers and sponsors so I’m pleased I have been able to back up their support with some great results. Like anything with horses, you have to enjoy the good moments as it’s just as easy to have bad ones too.”

The two days of competition included Mitsubishi Motors Cup Regional Finals at both BE90 and BE100. Nathalie George and A Little Unbelievable were winners in the BE90RF Section F whilst BE90RF Section G was won by Mollie Harris and Mac’s Mirah. The BE100RF were won by Charlotte Hordle and JKs Topgun (Section P) and Jane Rogers and Corrieview Merlin Magic – who has qualified for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup for the third time.

For Charlotte, it will be the second visit to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup with Ollie, who she has owned since he was a just broken five-year-old. She is first to admit her journey to qualification hasn’t been easy.

She told Eventing Worldwide: “Ollie had a Tie Back and Hobday operation at the end of the 2016 season as he was making a noise and struggling to make the time cross country. This then caused us problems all of last season with him coughing persistently despite a very meticulous care routine. We had a second opinion at the end of last season and we had the tie back partially reversed and haven’t looked back. We made it to Badminton this year but I was first to go – in monsoon conditions it wasn’t ideal for a horse who hates the mud, so I’m super excited to hopefully be able to give it a better bash next year. I have worked really hard on my dressage which is improving at every event and I seem to have finally sorted his biting out for jumping so we seem to be jumping clear rounds in the show jumping more consistently. This was my first BE win which makes it even more special. My mum is my super groom – she comes hacking with me in the dark and cold through the winter and supports me at every event, and dad who pays for it all.”

Kate Oppenheimer and SOS Sealpoint were victorious in BE90 Section D. Moosey, as she is known at home has been with Kate sincec she was four years old. The pair had a slow start to the season which has picked up and resulted in their win at Firle.

Kate explained to Eventing Worldwide:“I had a fall at Munstead in March which knocked both of our confidence. Then due to a mixture of the bad weather and her getting kicked in the field we didn’t get out to another event until June. It took a few runs to get my confidence back but she’s looked after me and helped me out when I’ve needed it. She was amazing in all three phases at Firle. My mum got to come and watch too which was really nice as she is a huge support. Our plan is a few more 90 runs this season and to prepare over the winter for Regional Finals for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup next year, which is my ultimate aim.”

Collecting their second win in a row, Becky Morrish and her 18 year old Kilsallagh Cathal were the winners of BE100 Open Section J. Their win at Firle came off the back of a successful outing at Eridge.

Becky commented: “Bow changes between being my mum’s hack and my eventer. He’s not ever going to be a global superstar, but we have a huge amount of fun bombing round pre-novices. Like most people, this season has been very trying. But what we have made it to, he’s been excellent. He won eridge as well last time out. He’ll do two or three more events now before we finish for winter.”

Other section results;BE90 Section A Katy Lawrence, Whitemoors First Flight; BE90 Section B Justin Chubley, Hokus Pokus; BE90 Section D Jack Burchmore, Inus PH; BE90 Section E Lucy Gasston, Smart Colours; BE100 Section H Laura Schroter, Billy Shamrock; Intermediate Novice Section L Lucinda Mesquita, Jem Rose; Novice Section M Gemma Tattersall, Facari MG; Novice Section N Tom Grant, Oakfield Wild Heart; Open Novice Section O Jessica Wilcox, Sarro Bridge; BE100 Section Q Clare Hanson, Diamond Zest; BE100 Section S Coral Keen, Quintessential III.

Images Courtesy of Steph Brown 

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