EVENT REPORTS – Frenchfield

Millie Wain reports…

Frenchfield Horse Trials is set in the heart of the Lake District. The venue’s second event on the British Eventing calendar attracted over 500 entries; there were 22 sections, with classes ranging from BE80(T) up to Novice level. This included under 18 classes as well as regional finals, which subsequently qualifies some competitors for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup, held at Badminton Horse Trials.

The best dressage score of the weekend was achieved by Laura Hanson and Bonnie Release The Stars. The combination posted a strong score of 16.5 penalties and added just 0.4 cross countries time faults to that, taking the win in BE90 section B by over 6 penalties. In second place was Kate Churton and Gredington Graffiti; the combination added nothing to their dressage score of 23.3 penalties. Completing the top 3 was Zoe Mackay aboard Grove Warrior with 27.2 penalties.

After her win, we spoke to Laura:

“It felt great to win at Frenchfield. I was really pleased with the horse – he did a lovely test and it was great to receive that mark. The horse is called Rufus at home and he is owned by Anna and Paul Johnson. They are great owners of mine and I have ridden Rufus for a good few years now. He has been to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton twice and we have got the regional final at Weston Park in a few weeks’ time to try and qualify for it again. Over the winter, we will be doing some BSJA and arena eventing so we will be ready to come back out eventing next year.”

As expected, the BE90 regional final sections C and D were hotly contested. In section D, 13 of the top 14 combinations completed on their dressage scores. The winner of this section was Kyla Cranston riding Lisboy Clover Valley. Having started affiliated Eventing last year, the combination have won five out of the six events that they have competed in. The win at Frenchfield built on 2 top placing a at the Warwick Hall events earlier this year.

Kate Sanderson took the top spot in one of the TopSpec BE80(T) sections riding Hillgarth Rachelian. They led from the first phase with a score of 27 penalties. We caught up with Kate following her success at Frenchfield:

“Being honest, I knew she was very capable to potentially win as she can produce phenomenal tests and has a huge jump but we have had a rough two years on the Eventing front so it was just a run to see how she went as it was her first BE in a year. As a 5 year old she did her first British events and won them both off the trot but later that year she underwent surgery for OCD and we didn’t ever really know if she would be able to jump again and I spent all of last year taking each day as it came and touch wood she’s still going strong. I didn’t feel at all prepared for Frenchfield as it was only her second event since 2017, and first run of this year (we did Alnwick Ford last September where I eliminated myself coming out the water the wrong way!!) and only 7 weeks prior to Frenchfield she had been diagnosed with ulcers so it was more a case of seeing how she felt as I had seen a huge improvement on treatment so wanted to see how she felt at a competition (thankfully she scoped clear four days after Frenchfield) . She had only been XC twice this year and likewise showjumping so my main aim was for us just to go and enjoy ourselves so to win her first event back with a happy pony still full of running was unbelievable.

I would like to believe we have a very strong bond, when I bought her cheaply and locally as a 4 year old, she had only just been backed. She hadn’t seen a pole nor cantered under saddle and I’ve been the only one to have ever sat on her since so I’d like to think I’m all she knows as I’ve taught her everything so even if she’s not sure of something, she has never said no and she puts 200% into everything. She’s absolutely tiny, probably only just making 14hh, and me at the age of 25, I have wondered whether it’s an odd combination but she is such a gem and I would be so hard pushed to find a horse or pony of any size like her ever again.

We are running once more this year at our local Alnwick Ford and I would like to try to aim for the 80T Championshios at Burghley next year. I would also like to get some RF qualifications in for Badminton 2021 as I really believe she has huge potential to get there having taken two other ponies there in the past. In between we are still very busy in our BD career with Area Finals in October to hopefully qualify for the BD Nationals next April and hopefully move back up to elementary very soon now that she’s back to feeling like her old self.”

There were three Novice sections taking place on Saturday, including an open section. Holly Richardson took the win in section E with the 6 year old gelding Ipache, who started eventing this year. The pair has accumulated four wins, and has been consistent all season; they have notably achieved some great dressage scores, including a 13 at Warwick Hall and a 17.3 at Frenchfield last weekend. Second place in section E was Emily King riding Vamonos; this combination has been selected to represent Great Britain at the Young Horse World Championships at Le Lion next month.

The top spot in the BE100open section went to Katy Bannon and Cavalcadour. They were in second place after the first phase with a score of 27.3 penalties but a double clear inside the time was enough to take the win.

Here is what Katy had to say after her win with Cavalcadour:

“I was so delighted to win: that was my first time eventing that horse and the first time riding for his owner. It was a new ride for me and he had not evented with anyone this year. He has had some show jumping faults in the past, so I had worked on that side of things at home as that’s what I do the most of, showjumping, it paid off as he showjumped super.

That was my first time at Frenchfield and it’s a lovely event that I will definitely return to. Jack was amazing to ride. He is a true gent and I feel we are still just getting to know and trust each other so I think we will improve as we become more of a true partnership. We are stepping up to Novice at Bishop Burton next month, so the plan is to have a Novice run and spend the winter doing BS and BD, ready to crack on with more Novices and possibly a 2* next season – all being well and with his very lovely owner’s agreement.”

Emma Silman had a successful day on Saturday, winning both of the sections in which she had entered. Emma took the wins in sections H and I with Boleybawn Cedric and KEC Quality Romance respectively. Both horses posted competitive dressage scores and jumped double clears too.