Bryony Skinner reports ..

The weekend of 11-12th May saw the striking Firle Place in East Sussex host a busy weekend full of activities and attractions, alongside the British Eventing fixture. Over 400 competitors took part in classes ranging from BE80(T) – Novice and spectators had the opportunity to enjoy a street food festival, fun fair rides, archery, carriage driving and a dog show.

Harriet Upton and the 6 year old gelding, Twinkle, won the BE100 section A. The pair completed on their dressage score of 28.3 and were the fastest combination to complete the cross-country; 14 seconds inside the optimum time. Harriet also came 2nd in the ON section H with the mare Kilkenny Lady, posting a nice double clear to restore some confidence for the horse after a fall at Belton. Harriet commented:

“Twinkle is owned by Her Majesty the Queen, I have produced him from a 3 year old. Plans for Twinkle are for him to run at a couple more 100’s before he moves up to Novice, it’s important that he is really confident at this level and he gets the basics right. The 100 course rode really well and I loved that they incorporated so many different questions for that level. I felt it was very educational for all the horses. Kilkenny Lady owned by Lydia Roper came second in the Open Novice, I was running her at level as she had a fall at Belton and I wanted to restore her confidence. She was very excited to be back out which might have been reflected in her dressage score!! But Firle course should never be underestimated because the classic ditch combination with a steam running through it always causes a few issues for some horses, mine included in the past. Rosie will go to Tattersalls to compete in the 3*. I would like to extend my thanks to Bede events (especially the lovely ladies in the secretaries who helped me understand the electronic scoring system) and all the volunteers, everyone to incredibly helpful and the day ran really well.”

It was a very busy weekend for Matthew Selby who had 5 horses competing at the event and ended up with 4 taking top ten positions. Matthew won the BE100 section D with the 8 year old gelding Fleetwater Capriccio, completing on their dressage score of 31. This was the first win of the season for the combination who have been placed 4th at South of England and Goring Heath this year.

Melissa Joannides was another rider who had success with multiple horses, taking the wins in two sections, the BE100 E and F with Sally Doonaveeragh and Golly Gosh respectively and and also coming 7th in section C on Hay Josephine. Melissa said

“Golly Gosh is a new ride for me this season, owned by Rhona and Kate Sim Read. Firle was only our third event together and Golly’s first BE win! I told Rhona the day before I felt like he had a win coming as he’s been feeling fantastic at home! I’m loving riding him, he’s super fun and has such a ‘go for it’ attitude. He’s been a lovely addition to the MJ team. Sally Doonaveeragh owned by Caroline Collins, also posted her first BE win, having been so close so many times! She jumped one of her best rounds jumping and topped off with another consistent sub-30 dressage score left her in top spot. She’s only a 7yo but is very brave and takes it all in her stride. I thought the new course at Firle rode well. There were a couple of tricky combinations but I’m fortunate that my horses are very confident in this phase and they gave me smooth rides across the country. Golly Gosh and I will continue our BE adventure together this season. As he is still relatively new to me, I will see how his next few runs go before deciding what is best to aim him for. Sally Doonaveeragh is now sadly for sale, but she will make someone a super grassroots horse. I will continue to event her in the mean time.”

Despite having one fence down in the showjumping, Ken Spencer won the BE Novice section J on the 8 year old gelding Mattie III. The combination had a good dressage score of 27.3, which placed them just over 4 points in the lead and allowed them the 4 SJ faults. Ken also came 4th in the Novice section I with the 15 year old mare Demilo, completing on their dressage score of 31.

Coming back from an injury, Indiana Limpus had three horses competing over the weekend and placed 1st in the Novice section I with Billy Pacific and 3rd in the 90 section N on Bob VI. Indiana and Billy Pacific added just 0.8 x-country time penalties to a very good dressage score of 26.5 to take the win. Indiana praised the dressage training that Billy Pacific has had in her time off and commented:

“Billy Pacific is a mare I have had since a just backed 4yo, bought from Donal Barnwell. I broke my ankle 10 weeks ago to the day so she has been with a friend of my mum’s, Penny Morris, who has been doing dressage with her for the 6 weeks whilst I was off so the dressage score is all down to her hard work! Katherine Morris her daughter also won a 100 section that day at Firle! 
My aims with Ariel (stable name!) are to do a couple of Advanceds and a long format 3* this year with the hope of being qualified and ready to have a go at the Blenheim 8/9yo class. The course was good and educational with one real test of bravery for the horse at the log ditch log.”

As mentioned by Indiana, Katherine Morris won the BE100 section B with her own 12 year old gelding, Gurrane Captain Sparrow. This combination have had a great start to the season, coming 2nd at South of England and 8th at Chilham Castle. Finishing x country 3 seconds under the optimum time, the combination completed on their dressage score of 29.8. Katherine commeted:

“Gurrane Captain Sparrow (Ginger), I bought from Bryony Whittington 7 years ago, and we have competed in dressage and eventing. The course was much improved this year and the going was fantastic a very well run competition. My plans for Ginger this year will be to qualify him for Badminton Grassroots 2020 and hopefully step up to novice.”

Other winners: BE100 section B – Isabelle Cook, Silken Creme; BE100o section G – Rachel Harris, Manor Mayhem: BE ON section H – Georgina Wood, Sjapo Le Sursaut; BE90 section K – Fern Wilson, H; BE90 section L – Betsy Davis, Watch It; BE90 section M – Helen Millichamp,
Kiwi Zidane; BE90 section N – Lucy Wheeler, What a Fella II; BE90 section O – Hannah Rogers, Frost Free; BE90 section P – Jasmine Wilks, Colwills Silver Hill; BE90 section Q – Scarlett Lloyd, Get a Wiggle On; BE80(T) section S – Bridget Priest, Culmore Frank; BE80(T) section T – Kathy Staples, Strade Bianche; BE80(T) section U – Caroline Exley, Copperfield Iris; BE80(T) section V – Hannah Rogers, Woodendfarm Viva.

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