Sarah Wells-Gaston reports ..
It was a golden weekend of international eventing action at the FEI Saracen Horse Feeds Houghton International Horse Trials. British riders took top honours across the board, with Emily King collecting her first international victory since 2018, whilst Ros Canter, recently nominated for the British Olympic team for Tokyo, dominating the CCI3* classes.
A field of 110 world-class combinations took part in the CCIO4*-S, and it was a hot competition with fautless jumping rounds being rewarded.
British rider Kitty King held and early advantage after the dressage, leading with Vendredi Biats on a score of 24, but the pair withdrew before the jumping phases. She was followed closely by China’s Alex Hua Tian and Jilsonne Van Bareel Hof on 24.3. The pair added 0.4 time penalties in the showjumping, and took forward six time penalties from the cross country.
This left the door open for William Fox-Pitt. A score of 25.4 in the dressage with Little Fire left the pair in third. But a jumping masterclass, adding no penalties from the jumping phases, saw them leap to the top of the leaderboard. With a winning score of 25.4, they had a winning margin of 4.6 penalties.
It was the 12-year-old horses first international victory since a win in the old-format 1* at Tattersalls in 2016.
“I’m very happy with him,” said William. “He’s had a good season so far and this is the first time that I’ve actually asked any questions of him and put my foot down a little bit. I have to admit to being quite surprised that we were inside the time, he gave me a fabulous ride, ate up the course and in the end did the time quite easily. This was a ideal run for him to have had, the first time I have opened it up for quite a while and the first time he has won a 4*. It is good to have him firing on all cylinders.”
Clear rounds inside the times were hard to come by, as out of the 98 starters, only 12 finished inside the optimum time. These included second placed Selina Milnes and Iron IV and third placed British rider Bubby Upton and Magic Roundabout IV, with the pair moving up from 17th after the dressage thanks to their faultless jumping rounds.
Bubby said on her Facebook page that she was ‘speechless’ adding: “He has truly developed into an unbelievably exciting horse, and I could not be any prouder of him and how far he has come.”
FEI Eventing Nations Cup
CCI04*-S also incorporated the opening round of the 2021 FEI Eventing Nations Cup. Due to the ongoing pandemic, only Britain, Ireland and Australia took part.
And on home-ground, it was the British Team of Tom McEwen, Mollie Summerland and Georgie Spence who took victory with a faultless performance. Not one of them had a jumping fault or a time fault throughout the competition, leaving them on their dressage score of 98.5 – a winning margin of 16.5 penalties.
The Irish team (115.0: Joseph Murphy, Susie Berry and Austin O’Connor) finished in second ahead of Australia in third (136.8: Kevin Mcnab, Sam Griffiths and Sophie Adams).
Mollie Summerland was the highest placed British team member with Charly Van Ter Heiden, finishing eighth overall on a score of 32.4.
said, “I find the Nations Cup series invaluable. The more mileage and experience I can get under team pressure; I find it really useful, hopefully for Championships and things in the future. It’s always a great privilege to ride on a Nations Cup Team.”
Tom McEwen and Class Affair finished ninth on 32.6 with Georgie Spence and Halltown Harley finishing 12thon 33.5.
CCI3*L including Young Rider National Championships
The two CCI3*-L sections were dominated by double world champion Ros Canter. She led both Sections B and C from start to finish to claim victories with Shannondale Nadia and Izilot DHI, who Ros describes as “probably the most talented horses” she has had in her yard.
It was Shannondale Nadia’s second international victory, having won at Osberton in 2019, whilst Izilot DHI has had international success on two previous occasions – Osberton in 2019 and Alnwicj / Burgham in 2020.
“I’m really proud of my horses this week, they’ve both been stars,” she said. “They’re both quite young horses and have got a lot to learn still. They’ve done PBs in every phase this week, so I couldn’t be more delighted with them. It’s really exciting for my whole team and my owners that we’ve got some nice horses coming up through the ranks.”
In finishing second in the 60 field CCI3*-L, Oliver Jackson was crowned the new Young Rider National Champion ahead of Georgina Wood (Coronel MCJ, 5th Section B) and Jemima Stratton (Global H, 6thSection B).
“He hasn’t put a foot wrong the whole weekend,” said Oliver of Viktor Krum. “It’s just so inspirational to be riding and competing alongside some of the top riders in the world and being side-to-side in the prize giving is really something else.”
Laura Collett rounded out the top three in Section B with Moonlight Charmer with Section C’s podium steps were filled by Oliver Townend (second on Cooley Rosalent) and Nicola Wilson (third with Coolparks Sarco).
CCI2*L (Section A)
A field of 110 started out for the CCI2*-L, but Emily King dominated the competition leading from start to finish thanks to her dressage of 23.9 and two outstanding jumping rounds, marking her first international win since Ballindenisk in 2018.
“I’m absolutely over the moon with him,” said Emily. “He was super. He did just what I asked. He’s quite an anxious horse and he’s never really jumped in a ring as big as that and with crowds, so I didn’t really know how he was going to respond, but he was super so I am so proud of him and so pleased for his owners, the Kerr-Dineen family, that he pulled it out of the bag.”
Laura Collett finished in second with Outback II with Piggy March and Cooley Goodwood in third.
IMAGES COURTESY OF EVENTING FOCUS