Sarah Wells-Gaston reports..
Germany secured a fifth consecutive win in the opening leg of the FEI Nations Cup for Eventing at Houghton Hall International Horse Trials.
The victorious German team finished with a combined score of 90.6 penalties, with Sweden taking second on 91.2. Great Britain finished in third on 99.2 penalties.
The German team of Christoph Wahler, Felix Etzel, Jerome Robiné and Ingrid Klimke proved too strong for the competition leading the team standings throughout. It was Klimke who initially led the field with a dressage score of 23.2. However, eight-time faults across the country and two rails down in the show jumping dropped them down the order. However, with all three riders finishing in the top 11 of the 122 strong field, victory was theirs.
The British team of Piggy French (Cooley Monsoon) Richard Coney (Kananaskis), Bubby Upton (Fernhill Rock Star) and Eliza Stoddart (Flint Syndicate’s Dick O Malley) lay in fifth after the dressage. Yet four clear rounds in the show jumping saw the British team head into the country phase in fourth place. Their good jumping form went into the cross country with all team combinations coming home without jumping penalties moving them up into the final podium position. French finished best placed of the British team riders in fourth.
Philip Surl, British Chef d’Equipe commented: “We had three first timers in our team; admittedly reasonably experienced riders, but never having been selected for the Nations Cup before. For all the team to jump double clear is a great result, I couldn’t be happier. I’m also delighted that the class fielded nine teams – that’s a good start to the series this year.”
British pathfinder and Derby University student, Richard Coney, admitted: “It was nice to be chosen, there are plenty of riders who would like to be selected. Kananaskis is pretty consistent so I knew he had it in him to put in a good performance, but you never know if it is all going to come together on the day.”
In the individual competition, Christoph Wahler and Carjatan S produced three strong phases to finish on their dressage score of 24.8.
Wahler commented: “Carjatan was already in shape in Luhmühlen and Kreuth and here everything just fit in. Even in the dressage he was very relaxed, even if we were not at the limit. And jumping is his strong point – I knew that Louise was hot on my heels and I could not give myself time if I want to stay ahead.”
Second place went to Swedish team rider Louise Romeike and Waikiki 207 (28.4). Rosa Onslow finished best of the British contingent in third place on RLE Limbo Kaiser (29.1).
Young Rider Championships
Phoebe Locke has been crowned the 2019 Saracen Horse Feeds British Eventing Young Rider National Champion.
Locke has twice represented Great Britain at the Junior European Championships, winning Silver and Bronze team medals, and won a team Gold medal at the Pony European Championships. But her win in the Young Rider championships is her biggest victory to date.
It was 2017 Junior European Gold medallist Bubby Upton who swept to the top of the leader board in the dressage with Eros DHI, who scored 28.6. Upton also held third place with Cola III, with her rides separated by Locke on her own Union Fortunus.
Upton maintained her lead following the cross country. Coming home clear inside the time saw the 2017 Junior European champion heading in to the final show jumping phase on a score of 28.6 penalties. Locke and Union Fortunus also completed cross country on their dressage score of 29.8 penalties, with Upton remaining in third with Cola III.
Producing a clear show jumping round, Locke put the pressure on leaders Upton and Eros DHI. And when the pair picked up four jumping penalties dropping them to third place it handed victory to Locke victory.
Known for his show jumping skill – having not picked up a show jumping fault since this competition last year – Union Fortunus’ clear round saw the combination completing on a dressage score of 29.8 penalties. Locke commented: “I never thought that Bubby would have a pole down. I didn’t ever imagine I might win – I always finish second. My horse tries so hard for me, I absolutely can’t believe it.”
This meant for the second year running Upton and Cola III finished as the runner’s up. Heidi Coy had an impressive finishing line-up occupying fourth on Russal Z, fifth on Halenza and sixth with Royal Fury.
Holly Woodhead claimed her first international victory in nearly four years winning the CCI3*-L with Scuderia 1918 Future.
The pair already have two wins to their name this season, winning an Intermediate section at Aston Le Walls earlier this month and ann Intermediate Novice at Portman in April highlighting their form heading into the event.
Placing second after the dressage, behind Piggy French and Calling Card, the pair put themselves in contention with a score of 26.4 – just 0.1 penalties adrift.
They jumped into the lead when French and Calling Card were sadly eliminated on the cross country, having kept a clean sheet themselves. The pair had a 3.6 penalty margin going into the show jumping, and when second placed Harry Meade went clear with Gideon, Woodhead needed a clear round to claim victory. Keeping a cool head, Woodhead and Scuderia 1918 Future kept the rails up to win on their dressage score.
This was Woodhead’s first international win since her victory in the Under 25 Three Star at Bramham in 2015 with DHI Lupison. Having claimed second place, Meade also took third with Mosstown Prince.
The seemingly unstoppable Piggy French made it a pillar to post win in the CCI2*-L on The Lancer Stud’s First Lancer in the CCI2*-L. French’s win at Houghton was her 25th victory of the 2019 campaign. It was the pair’s second international win on the trot having won the CCI2*-S at Rockingham just the week before.
Scoring 25.9 in the dressage the pair added nothing from the cross country to stay at the top of the leader board. And their clean sheet remained in the show jumping giving the Badminton winner victory ahead of Belgium’s Stephanie D’Andrimont who held on to second place with Casperelli. Jumping penalties proved costly in the tightly packed leader board, as four faults from Willa Newton and Cock A Doodle Doo, dropped her from overnight third to tenth place, leaving the way open for Kitty King who produced a clear round with MHS Fernhill Finale to take the final podium spot on a score of 27.1.
Images courtesy of Eventing Focus