Sarah Carless reports…

More than 600 combinations headed to the first of Great Witchingham’s international fixtures in 2017, with the Norfold event running a full roster of classes from BE80(T) to Advanced Intermediate, including two sections for the CIC*.

Piggy French’s excellent form continued for the start of the season with a win in CIC* Section A with Graf Cavalier with the pair finishing on their dressage score of 28.0, being the only combination to make the cross country optimum time in this section. This put her ahead of Georgia Wood and Del Piero II in second place, with Wizz Leyland and Cruise the Town taking third.

French picked up a second victory over the weekend, topping BE100 Open Section W with Sportsfield Top Notch as well as picking up a second place with Quarrycrest Echo in Open Intermediate Section D.

In CIC* Section B, Tanya Buckingham-Lloyd topped the scoreboard with Obos Impressive. The pair led from start to finish, with a 26.2 dressage, four faults in the show jumping and just 3.6 time faults from the cross country to finish on a score of 33.8. Junior rider Phoebe Locke, a member of the BEF Excel Programme, took second place with Ardeo Fun Size with Ludwig Svennerstal and Fialotta in third.

A host of top British riders topped their sections including the Badminton-bound pairing Simon Grieve and Drumbilla Metro (Open Intermediate Section C), Nicola Wilson and JL Dublin (Intermediate Section E), Matthew Wright and Fathers Compromise (BE100 Section O) and Sarah Bullimore and Starbucks I (BE100 Plus Section Q).

Heidi Coy picked up a double of wins, topping Intermediate Novice Section M with Carrigsean Tigerseye and Novice Section I with Russal Z. Both horses are owned by David Ottewell. Heidi also finished fourth with Royal Fury in Open Intermediate Section M.

It has been a good start to the season for Heidi, with Carrigsean Tigerseye finishing third in the Open Intermediate at Lincoln whilst Russal Z has now clocked up two wins this year after winning a Novice at Lincoln. Heidi commented: It feels great to have the horses feeling on great from after such a long, wet winter! It makes all those days riding in the cold wet or the snow worth it!.”

Summer Nicholls and Alfie XXVI were the victors in the BE100 PC (Section N).

Summer, who is currently studying for her BHS stages at the Equestrian Learning Academy, has owned Alfie for nearly 2 years – his previous owner rescued him after finding him neglected in a shed as a foal. The pair have qualified for the BE100 Championships at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup and are aiming for the Under 18 Championships at Frickley Park.

Despite the bad weather, Summer and Alfie have had a successful start to the season – after their win they came second in their run at Burnham Market in the BE100 Open Under 18.

She told Eventing Worldwide; “Alfie is a super special character, although he can be a bit tricky to handle on the ground, he is a dream to event. We have worked very hard on his flat work over the winter and it proved worth the effort when he did a fantastic test to score 24 at Great Witchingham. It was our first event of the season, and we almost didn’t get there due to him suffering from a few bouts of cellulitis recently, but thankfully we have managed to keep him sound. Alfie was raring to jump and flew round both the show jumping and cross country clear, with a smile on his face. It was a great start to the season for us as we have qualified for Badminton Grassroots this May.”

Other section results: Open Intermediate Section D Ibby Macpherson, Ballingowen Diamond; Advanced Intemediate Section F Susie Berry, Morswood; Novice Section G Charlie Clover, Muchadoaboutnothing; BE100 Section H Aoife Clark, Homme D’Hotot M; Novice Section J Indie Vaughn Jones, Cuffesgrange Diamond Echo; Open Novice Under 18 Section K Jaymee Savill, Knockmullen Flyer; Open Novice Section L Nat Dixon, Hot Party Juice; BE100 Open Section P Isabel White, Damorka; BE90 Section R Verity Becker, The Meelick Hakuna Matata; BE90 Section S Fiona Lundy, Castielle; BE90 PC Section T Lily Beckley, Jack The Lad VI; BE90 Open Section U Rebecca Page, Cloud Nine II, BE80(T) Section V Ada Marson, Cynheidrefawr Dylan.

Photographs courtesy of Sue Westmoor

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