Rika Nile reports….

Goring Heath Horse Trials debuted their new cross country course over their first fixture of the season during the first weekend of April. Whilst some events were sadly abandoned that weekend, Goring ran, inviting riders to take part in BE90-BE100plus classes.

Some low dressage marks were seen across the weekend, and one of the best went to Fern Wilson and her coloured cob Killea Colours. The combination posted an 18 dressage in BE90 section G, adding nothing to their dressage to take the section. Fern, who juggles eventing and being a final year Veterinary student with the help of her mum, is aiming for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton in 2018 with Killea Colours, after a foot abscess prevented completion in 2016. She commented: 

“We qualified for 2016 but unfortunately we were eliminated in the show jumping – Charlie (Killea Colours) came in with a foot abscess 10 days before and wasn’t quite right. He didn’t fancy jumping and eventually ended up having the whole season off with an injury. He has come back fighting fit this year so we are aiming for another qualification for 2018.”

“I’m absolutely ecstatic to have a win, especially with my dressage score of 18, which is a personal best for us. As a cob we often find dressage to be a bit marmite – judges either love him or hate him! So it’s very rewarding when we get good dressage scores. He’s not normally a show jumper but he’s had a fab start to this season with 3 clears.” Fern added.

Close on Fern’s heels were Jenny Naylor-Davis and Jump Que, who also posted an 18 dressage and nothing to add, meaning the cross country time determined the placings between Jenny and Fern. Similarly in BE100 section A, the top three all finished on their dressage mark of 27.3, with nothing to add. Rebecca Jessett and Percivals Rebel finished closest to the optimum time to win the section, with Tom Jackson and Cassandra M, and Katharine Mason and Hardy Warrior fractionally behind to take second and third. 

Paul Gaff had a successful weekend with Gift O The Gab, a mare he highly rates. The pair won BE90 section K, despite lowering a pole, as their 23 dressage put them well in contention. Paul, who originally started out as a working pupil at 17 for Nick Gauntlett, has had Gift O The Gab since the start of her career when she was a four-year-old, due to previously producing her half sister.

“She had a slow season last year due to a fall I had and being a big horse, I’ve taken her steady too. I’d like to aim her for a 1* this season, and possibly for Osberton six-year-olds,” Paul told Eventing Worldwide. Paul was also second in BE90 section J with Bastille; the section was won by Kacey Leathers and Tiger Kitten.

Haddon Light Music and his rider Lauren Cranham won BE100Open section D, despite having arthritis in both hocks. The thirteen-year-old gelding completed his first event of the season adding just 0.8 time penalties to their 28.3 dressage, leaving them just 0.7 ahead of Amy Pugh and Lynwood Montana who took second.

Lauren commented: “I really didn’t think I would still be eventing him this season, but he really feels like he’s come into his prime. He won the 100+ at Nunney last year as well, so he’ll be doing some more of them this season too. Hopefully our season together will carry on being as good as it started.”

Young horse producer Amber Woodhouse won BE100plus section F with Pongo, despite having a busy run up to the event juggling backing and producing horses for competition and sale, and working as the backing rider for a show jumping stud. Pongo, known as ‘Pony’ at home, was purchased with a view to sell on as a FEI pony, however kept growing until he made the height of 15.1hh. 

Amber, who despite being local to the event still managed to get lost on the way, compromising her dressage warm up, said of the gelding:

“But he really is exceptional in all 3 phases, and although he can be a bit cheeky at home sometimes, he is such a performer and I can always rely on him to be in the top few after dressage.

“His jumping has come on a lot over the winter, and he was such a pro XC, just galloped round on a loose rein and I did virtually nothing!, which is always so rewarding when you’ve put a lot of time and effort into carefully and confidently producing them.”

Amber also commented on the new cross country course, praising it, as did many riders, including Paul, Fern and Lauren. 

“The course was fantastic, particularly considering they have had less than a year to build it on a completely new site. It had a lot of variation and was really fun to ride.

“Everyone at Goring, as always were so helpful! Jan and Josie and their team are always so friendly and accommodating, and we even got driven around the cross country course walk to help us catch up on lost time!” Amber also added.

Section Winners

BE100 Section A – Rebecca Jessett and Percivals Rebel

BE100 Section B – Tom Jackson and Georgio D Over

BE100 Section C – Gemma Tattersall and MHS Kilcannon

BE100open Section D – Lauren Cranham and Haddon Light Music

BE100plus Section E – Gemma Wellings and Drumaclan Diamond D

BE100plus Section F – Amber Woodhouse and Pongo

BE90 Section G – Fern Wilson and Killea Colours

BE90 Section H – Charlotte Bull and Cheeky Casper

BE90 Section I – Nicky Tollafield and Centauras

BE90 Section J – Kacey Leathers and Tiger Kitten

BE90 Section K – Paul Gaff and Gift O The Gab

BE90 Section L – Michelle Williamson and Moonvale

BE90open Section M – Olivia Craddock and Ella Carthiloma

BE100 Section N – Tanya Reid and Montgomery Flax

BE100 Section O – Owen Cooper and Dora The Explorer II

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