Bryony Skinner reports…
Hard ground work pays off for Hambleden.
Hambleden International took place from the 21st to 23rd April and saw over 635 riders compete; praising the organisers for the hard work that had gone into ensuring good going, despite unseasonably dry weather. There was no doubt how much effort had gone into preparing the courses for the event, with organisers spiking and watering the ground, with 10,000 litres of water being distributed over the showjumping and collecting rings.
Bubby Upton took 1st place in the CIC* section N on Eros DHI, continuing a fantastic start to the season. She commented “Ero was faultless throughout the two days at Hambleden. I was thrilled with his dressage test as he tried so hard and really listened to me throughout and then was on springs jumping. The course rode really well; it was quite twisty in the woods but he is a very small horse, which made it easier. I thought that the first water may have been tricky because it caused a lot of trouble in the novice but Ero was brave and bold through it which was fantastic. I am aiming him for the Junior National Championships at Brand Hall with the hope of being selected for the Junior Europeans again this year which are being held in Millstreet so fingers crossed the rest of the season goes well!”
The CIC* section O was won by Gemma Tattersall on Billy Hopefull. Gemma had a very successful weekend with her team of horses and relayed this on her facebook page, reporting that she had a “lovely weekend at Hambleden with 6 horses and 6 prizes….such a lovely event with beautiful bluebells and lovely weather.
Glensensaw Sweet Girl and MHS Kilcannon were both super in the BE100 on Friday for 2nd and 6th respectively. Billy Shania led the dressage then did a lovely steady double clear for 5th in the Novice. Billy Hopefull, Chilli Knight and Brass Farthing all jumped seriously classy double clears and inside the time in the CIC* to finish 1st, 6th and 4th. Special shout out to little Billy Hopefull who won her section by 9 marks and it’s her first ever 1 star!!”
Caroline Harris also had a successful weekend at the event, taking 1st in the IN section M on Faere Spirit as well as two 4th places and an 11th. She commented that “Faere Spirit came to me two years ago to try eventing. He was notoriously spooky and still is very spooky to ride at home, but when he’s out competing he knows he has to perform. He is being aimed at Tattersalls 1* then intermediate later this year. The course rode well, you had to really attack from the word go. They had done a brilliant job with the ground. “
Comfybed Plus Shavings sponsored rider Ibby MacPherson was pleased to finish her busy weekend at Hambleden with 1st and 3rd places on Ballingowan Echo and Grafs Espoir. Ballingowan Echo took first place in the ON section K on a dressage score of 29 and Grafs Espoir came third in the BE100 section E, completing on a dressage score of 31.5. Ibby commented “Ballingowan Echo I bought as a 4 yr old from Anne O’Grady in Ireland and he was bred by Moore Orr. He has been very successful at intermediate level but stupid mistakes have happened the couple of times I’ve upgraded him to advanced, even though I know he is at least a 3* horse. He has had some time off since July so it was great to have him out again! I didn’t mean to go quite as fast as we did (he was one of only 2 horses inside of the time all day) but he is such a pro and made it easily. He will do some 2*’s and fingers crossed an advanced this year.
Gorgeous Graf’s Espoir is owned and bred by Jo Beltcher a great friend of mine, she is 6 years old and this is her first season eventing after spending a couple of months at the beginning of last year as a show horse. Whilst showing she did a bit of “free styling” in the ring, which showed her athleticism would be better suited to eventing! She was extremely difficult and I couldn’t get her down the road hacking with out her napping and standing on her hind legs, so I resorted to riding and leading her off others, then rode her and led off her, and now she hacks fine. She also hated people!! Eventing has really changed her attitude, She loves jumping and it’s taken a while but we are now very good friends (now she isn’t trying to kill me!!). She moves well with a great canter, hence her fabulous jump, and she is a lion XC. Jo and I are excited about her future, but we are not going to rush her as she is still weak and has growing to do. She will do a few novices later on this season if the ground gets better!”
Ibby mentioned how much she likes Hambleden as an event and how the courses rode well to educate the younger horses and question the more experienced ones. She also noted that her busy and successful weekend was greatly helped by her home team as she couldn’t do it with out them.
The AI section was dominated by Aoife Clark who took 1st and 2nd positions on Fernhill Adventure and Colorfast II respectively. Fernhill Adventure will be heading to Badminton in a couple of weeks and Aoife felt that after completing relatively few miles last season, (due to a virus he contracted in Spring and Aoife breaking her neck in Autumn), Hambleden would be a good run for him prior to heading to Badminton. Aoife commented “Fernhill Adventure came out slightly green this season but ran well at Weston Park which was an open, galloping track. Hambleden is twisty so I felt it would be a good course to run him on before Badminton and he felt super. The ground was amazing and the effort that had gone into it was much appreciated.”
Aoife took over the ride on 2nd placed Colorfast II from Olly Smith when he retired and this is a horse she rates highly and describes as a “jumping machine who pings off the ground”….”He has struggled due to a lack of consistency, last season he fractured a splint bone in the Spring and then I broke my neck in Autumn so he never got going. This season he has gone double clear at Gatcombe and Weston Park and the plan is to upgrade him to 2* in Spring and 3* in Autumn.”
Other section winners: BE100 Section A, Daisy Berkeley, Electoral Role, Section B, Kevin Mcnab, Brookfield Benjamin Bounce, Section C, Melissa Pollett, Little Jim, Section E, Daisy Berkeley, Caroline, Section F, Richard Wakeham, Amyture O, BE100 Open Section D, Bonar Coakley, Drum Beat IV, BE100 Plus Section G, Susanna Morris, Trouble and Strife, Novice Section H, Yoshiaki Oiwa, Chantelle 2, Section I, Adam Trew, Classik Lady, Section J, Louise Chamberlain, Edge of Night, Section L, Sarah Parkes, Gracious Honour, Section T, Katherine Mason, Hardy Warrior, Section U, Gaspard Maksud, Pizazz II, Intermediate Section Q, Anna Horton, Classic Affair, Section R, Melissa Joannides, In Vogue II, Open Intermediate Section S, Marcio Carvalho Jorge, Coronel MCJ
Photographs courtesy of Gary Horner