Ruth Gregory Reports ..
It was an emotional weekend as the Whatley Manor Gatcombe International horse trials bowed out of the British eventing calendar. Set on HRH The Princess Royals’ beautiful Gloucestershire estate it was a firm favourite by everyone and will be missed. Every cloud has a silver lining as the star fixture went out with a bang with mass entries full of the top names, it was a great weekend of sport to see out the 3 decades of the event and to thank all of those you’ve worked so hard over the years.
Alex Bragg and Zagreb showed all their experience to win the CCI-S3*section on their dressage score of 28.6 with a 5-mark lead over runners up Molly Faulkner and Call me Cooley.
“I am honestly lost for words; Call Me Cooley always tries his heart out for me and this weekend he did that and beyond! After our rather excitable test to lie in equal 38th before jumping I definitely didn’t expect to finish in 2nd behind Alexander Bragg! Super excited for his future!”
Tom McEwen was on home turf with only a short hack across the field to his Gatcombe based yard. He dominated the section with three horses finishing in the top ten! The best of those being third place with Michele Saul’s Lordships Graffalo.
CCI-S2* section B winners were Tim Rogers and Margaret Roser’s Newton Belize. It was definitely made extra special that it was on the six-year-old’s international debut!
Triumphing in the CCI-S2* section A was Harry Meade with Alison Swinburn’s Brookfield Cavalier Cruise. They proved to be the best of over 100 starters, jumping a foot perfect double clear to finish on their dressage mark of 24.2. The gelding has been super consistent this season as he also gained a third place at Burgham International CCI-S2* in July.
Second place went to Kitty King riding international debutant Vendi Cruz. Vicky Rieunier’s gelding has been on great form not finishing outside of the top ten at each of his last six runs. Kitty also finished ninth in the section with the six-year-old Fernhill Mojito.
“Both the 2* horses went brilliantly, Vendi Cruz jumped a beautiful double clear and felt great. He has been knocking on the door for a big result all year, so it was lovely for his owners that he went well here.”
It was a celebration all around in the King camp as Kitty also led from start to finish in the Novice section K with Adrian Sweet’s Monberg Hendricks.
“It was great to have a win at the last Gatcombe. Monberg Hendricks, at just a five-year-old, went extremely well in all three phases. He kept a very nice expressive rhythm in his test and jumped immaculately in both phases, making it feel much easier than a five-year-old should.”
Kitty also paid tribute to the iconic event by reflecting on past glories;
“Gatcombe is a lucky event of mine so I will be sad to see it go. The first time I ever rode at Gatcombe was back in 1999 doing mine and my horse’s first ever intermediate, which we won! It’s wonderful to start and finish my Gatcombe career with a win.”
The Novice sections were highly competitive with top names riding their hopeful stars of the future.
Andrew Nicholson took the win in section O with his own Spanish bred Dalton III. Their win marks five top ten placings on a bounce for gelding who’s only a five-year-old.
Georgie Strang claimed a win in section M with Darcy De La Rose. Tom Grant and Socs Cavalier had to settle for an agonisingly close second place after finishing on the same mark of 31.5 with the exact same cross-country time, Georgie just nudged in front with a marginally faster show jumping round.
Emma Rarity rode her own Novice first timer Zummertimes to first place in section L. It was also the gelding’s first event back since his win in the BE100Plus at the Baileys Horse Feeds Somerford Park back in May.
In the Open Novice section Alexander Peternell and Antigone II finished on top by adding nothing to their dressage mark of 25.0. The eight-year-old mare, who’s owned by Stephen J Waldron, also finished second in the CCI-L3* at Hartpury international in August.
Oliver Townend, fresh off the back of his third place at Burghley, picked up two Open intermediate victories. He won section F with Peter John Windus’ Newmarket Caro, a super young horse who despite only stepping up to Intermediate this season has bagged five wins at the level already!
His other win was in section G riding Kathleen Wilkinson’s and Rachel Wood’s Arklow Puissance. The seven-year-old has also impressed this season accumulating three intermediate wins.
Young starlet and current British U21 National Champion Phoebe Locke won section J riding her own Pica D’or. Their win is the pairing’s best result this season.
Izzy Taylor was another rider claimed multiple wins by taking two of the intermediate sections. She led from the off in section E with Hartacker on a dressage score of 23.0, they finished off the job with a confident double clear.
She piloted Springwind Vangelis to top spot in section I. Lizzie Matthew’s gelding had finished seventh here at his last time out in the British Championship Novice class at the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing.
Nicky Hill took the section D win with Galley Proof whilst Lauren Yallp and Hacien were victorious in section H. Caroline Harris and Crovette II had to settle for second by only 0.5 of a penalty.
Images courtesy of Hannah Cole Photography