Bryony Skinner reports ..
Competitors found themselves battling the elements at Horseheath’s 2nd BE fixture of the season over the weekend of 10-11th August at the Thurlow Estate. Excellent ground preparations meant that the going was perfect, but no one could prepare for the blustery winds that arrived on Saturday, interrupting the first day’s competition. Nevertheless competitors praised the Tina Ure designed x country courses as interesting and educational tracks. Built by David Carpenter and his team the BE105 class debuted a new jump in the water and many new fences. Spectators who did brave the high winds were able to enjoy watching the x-country watched from a single vantage point.
Tim Barling, organiser for Thurlow Estate said
“We worked hard to ensure that the ground was perfect in time for the weekend including the irrigating of 2 million litres of water from our reservoirs. The wind provided challenging conditions on the Friday setting up and also on the Saturday of competition, resulting in a few withdrawals – mainly from competitors from further afield with trailers – but we ensured everything was secure and pinned down and soldiered on. We also tried to reschedule withdrawals due to the unprecedented wind so that they could run on the Sunday instead. This enabled us to deliver a wonderful and successful weekend for approximately 450 competitors. We are very grateful for the fantastic support we receive from our principle sponsor PwC and indeed from all of our sponsors, volunteers and support teams who made the weekend run so smoothly”.
The BE90 section F was won Sophie Reason, who led from the start with a very good dressage score of 25; aboard her own gelding Ballygriffin Buddy. Sophie said,
“Buddy is a 10 year old 17.2 skewbald gelding. I’ve owned him for 5 years and have taken it really slowly with him as he has grown from 15.3 since we brought him which resulted in having an issue with his pelvis. This is his first season back eventing after 3 years of dressage and showjumping and he is very much enjoying it.
The course at Horseheath rode great, was a lovely flowing and educational course even though we went round it in 50mph winds!!
I have qualified Buddy for a regional final so we are hoping to do that at Little Downham and fingers crossed I will get him to Badminton, which will be my third time.”
The most successful rider of the weekend was Melissa Joannides, who competed on 3 horses and won 2 sections and came 2nd in the third. Despite having one pole down in the showjumping, Melissa won the BE100 section A with her boyfriend’s hunter, Hay Josephine. The combination also won a BE100 section at Chilham Castle in April and have had a very successful season. Melissa commented:
“He (my boyfriend) bought Hay Josephine about 5 years ago now, and I said to him he had to get something nice enough that I would enjoy riding everyday but safe enough for him (as he was very novice then) and his request was something fast that would jump hedges! So we ended up with Joss who is a chestnut TB mare! She is the perfect all rounder and ticks every box for what we wanted. I found her so nice I told him I wanted to event her… she won her first ever event and so she became my eventer in the summer and his hunter in the winter. She is probably the only hunter to have scored above 30 only twice in her Eventing career. She finds the show jumping more tricky but jumps everything cross country. My second ride was on Rhona Sim’s ‘Golly Gosh’ who was competing in his first BE105. He has been with me since January and I have been having a lot of fun riding this super pony! He does a lovely dressage, this week scoring 23.3 and is very bold jumping. He made nothing of the bigger more technical track and ended up 2nd! My last ride was ‘Woodfield Gold’ owned by Melanie Gatt. He has been with me about 2 months in order to kick start his BE career. He has now done three BE90open classes, and this is the second one he has won in a row, with a 5th in his first start. Although relatively green, he acts like a total pro and makes my job very easy. Scoring best dressage of 24.8 and a double clear left him over 8 marks clear of second. We will now have a go at moving him up to BE100. I think the courses are inviting at Horseheath but ask enough questions. They are a good education to horses to expose them to some different types of fences.”
The BE100 section B was won by Naomi Lawrence and her 5 year old gelding Jaimy; completing on their dressage score of 26.5. Naomi runs a business of producing and selling young show jump and event horses and bought Jaimy from Holland earlier this year to produce for the event horse classes and sell on. Having previously won the 5 year old section in the BE100 at Chilham Castle on her other ride Jaguar SF, Naomi commented on her facebook page:
“Jaimy couldn’t have stable mate Jaguar being the only one to win a BE100…..so they made it two wins on the trot today and 5yr old Jaimy took the win the BE100 section at @horseheath_ht on 26.5 dressage and double clear. I was incredibly pleased with how they both coped with the terrible wind and conditions out eventing today. It was truly terrible!! But they behaved like season pro 10yr olds, not 5yr olds going round their 2nd 100’s. Unfortunately after a lovely test and clear show jumping, Jaguar had one green moment xc which cost him a 2nd placing. But he learnt lots from the educational track and came back even more confident for next time. Producing these two side by side really shows you how some days they are just babies and are going to make mistakes.. but as long as their learning I’m happy for them to take it in turn to win. Thank you to TopSpec Hy-Equestrian and An Eventful Life for sponsoring the section generously. Can’t wait to see my xc video”
First timer Henry Dollar won the BE90 Open u18 section J with his horse (inherited from his sister) Brosna King, completing on a dressage score of 24. He was delighted to have beaten his sister Daisy who was placed 8th in the Section.
The 4 year old section was won by Alice Haynes aboard her own 16hh gelding Emerald Coffey at his first event. The combination had one fence down in the showjumping, adding 4 penalties to their dressage score of 31.8. Alice said,
“He was bought from Annie dalton who had just got him from Ireland. I have had him for 6 weeks, as a raw baby he has a very good brain and has taken everything in his stride. That was his first event and he behaved impeccably. The cross country caused a few problems throughout the day. I had schooled him twice before, he’s a water baby the only thing I was concerned about was him looking at the ditch. He was very slow going around but he did everything I asked of him. I love producing babies as it’s such a great feeling when they just keep progressing and learning. It was a little bit of a shock to win!! He will go to Keysoe next with the aim being Osberton.”
Anna Czylok flew in from Portugal at 6am on the morning of the event after her flight was delayed. It was a worthwhile trip to Cambridgeshire for her as she took the win in the BE100 Open section C, finishing on her dressage score of 25.5 with her own gelding – Curolea Mika. Anna commented:
“Curolea Mika or Casper at home, is a registered ISH. He was a very green rising 6 year old when I bought him 5 years ago and I feel very fortunate to have the superstar he has turned into. He is the kindest and easiest horse to manage on the ground but comes alive at events. I have successfully evented him up to BE100 and competed at the Mitsubishi Motors cup at Badminton. I share the ride with former 5* eventer, Nat Dixon who rides and competes him as well due to my university commitments (I am at vet school). She has had considerable success with him. Including a novice win, numerous top 10 finishes and 2 top 10 finishes round his first 2 intermediates this season. I was in the 100 at Horseheath due to having an unfortunate fall at the water round Chilham Castle novice 2 weeks ago. I’m trying to get mileage round novice tracks but had to take a step down for confidence. The plan is that I’ll run him at one more 100 and then try novice again.”
The BE105 section D was won convincingly by Joanne Watts and Churchside Reflection who completed on a very good dressage score of 22. This left them 9.3 penalties ahead of the 2nd placed combination in the section. A delighted Joanne said,
“Churchside Reflection, known as Lex, is owned by Deirdre Hunt. Conditions on Saturday were rather windy and he was a little spooked by it but he coped very well, did a lovely dressage test and jumped a lovely double clear. The cross country rode really well. It was a flowing track and I think the technicality was spot on. It was definitely more testing than a 100 and I think theses classes are a brilliant stepping stone between 100s and novice. It would be great if more events would hold 105s. His next outing will be Little Downham.”
Competitors were full of praise, not only for the fantastic courses but also for the friendly atmosphere at the event and the helpfulness of all the stewards and volunteers, with many commenting that they cannot wait to return next season.
BE105 Section E – Catherine Sadler, Royale Messenger: BE80(T) section L – Martha Hall, Hearnsbrook Cygnus: BE80(T) section M – Susan Tomalin, Mr Beaujangles: BE80(T) section N – Josephine Gleeson, OFS Ruffian: BE90 section G – Clare Dobie, Kildangan Calypso: BE90 section H – Katie Hale, Claydon Robinia: BE90 section I – Lucy Haycock, Silver Viking:
Images courtesy of Eventing Focus