Jemma Docherty reports..
Scotsburn, an hour North of Inverness, is the most northerly run BE event in Scotland and over the years have seen their entries decline due to the soaring costs of fuel and riders aiming at more Central Belt located events.
Scotsburn is a fantastic event with one of the best dressed courses and idyllic views across the Moray Firth. This year it featured a beautiful commemorative jump to mark the passing of 100 years dedicated to the armed forces who died during World War I. The hilly landscape requires a fit horse with the cross-country time being notoriously difficult to achieve at all levels.
This year to try and attract more entries especially within the Novice and 100 sections, long standing sponsors of the event, Global Energy, very generously donated a prize pot of £2000 for these sections.
Two 90 sections and a 90PC section kicked the days proceedings off with a win for Felicity Edmondson and Tillyochie Tom in Section A followed by Martin Arnott’s first ride of 4 Eclips B taking 2nd place. Section B was won by Pip Fleming and Ridgewood Abbey. This combination was delighted to put their last run at Kirriemuir behind them which resulted in an unfortunate elimination after parting company on the XC. Pip said it was just one of those unlucky dismounts but was pleased with “Thors” dressage and is convinced Scotsburn is their lucky event. The pair now head to Eglinton on the back of their good run and hope this continues.
Mhairi Goodwin and Gusto III took second spot with the 6.4-time penalties being a deciding factor in their final placing. Rebecca Murray and Flying Guest were the only 90 combination to make the time XC and couldn’t have done anymore to better their final spot of 3rd. The PC section saw 11 combinations come forward. The PC classes are an excellent chance to give the younger generation a taster of eventing. Alyssa Neumann and Little Dancer II came home with the Red Rosette of that section adding just 2 XC time penalties to their dressage score of 30.8.
Fresh off the back of his successful Badminton debut saw, Wills Oakden, and his team make the long journey North with a total of 8 horses competing from his Perthshire base. The trip was very worthwhile for Wills as it saw him claim the top spot and prize money in both the 100 and Novice Sections. Competing his wife’s, Stephanie, Monbeg Safari, he led from the start on a dressage of 27.5 with one of the fastest xc rounds inside the time. Wills also claimed 3rd spot in this section with Mr Murphy only adding 2.4-time penalties to his dressage of 32.5.
Olivia Strang Steel took the second spot with Cillbhrid Oscar. Having bought Oscar as a 5-year-old, it has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for the combination. After a string of confident runs at 100 in 2018, Livy had hoped to step up to Novice mid-season and qualify him for 1*, but due to sustaining a nasty fetlock wound this put an end to their 2018 season prematurely. It has been a long few months for the pair but with encouragement from their vet, physio, and careful management they are now tentatively trying to get back on the eventing scene. Livy said “ Scotsburn was a lovely surprise, – I kept in my head that if he knocked a pole or hit a XC fence I would pull him up just in case it knocked the scab off before going through the water canal, so I was delighted to finish the XC without any dramas! Its always tough watching everyone else out competing when you can’t join them but days like this always make you appreciate simply having a healthy horse”
Livy and Oscar will continue to work away quietly with no plans or pressure to rush him through the levels and instead just appreciate being able to ride him and enjoy having fun again and see where it takes them.
The Novice section saw Callum MacDonald’s show jumping track proving to be as influential as the XC time with only 6 clears out of the 16 entries. A Class Cooley owned by Frances Hay Smith, ridden and produced from a youngster by Wills Oakden also led from the start with a smart dressage of 26.8 to claim the top spot and generous prize money.
Sophie Bultitude and her very smart Laghey Clover completed their first run at this level finishing in 2nd spot after jumping a good double clear only adding 8-time penalties to their dressage of 32.5. This was the combinations first run after completing the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots championship last month. Sophie now has her sights set on more Novice runs with the new 2* being their goal in the not so distant future.
The 100Open section was won by Jodie Craig and her ride Hespo coming very close to the optimum time gaining just the one-time penalty. Dawn Morley and Amier took the second spot with Laila Bedawi and her smart grey mare Bengarys Luipillia making a return to BE after some time off and university to finish with a fast xc inside the time to finish on their dressage 37.5 for 3rd place.
As always, the 80T sections were well supported with Katie McIntosh and Riffeylands Kool Diamond just tipping one show jump pole to add to their fast xc round inside the time to finish on a score of 35.3 a whole 20 points ahead of second place Astrid Cowie and Glandore Grey Mist.
The 80T PC section saw young Showjumper turned eventer Millie Lawson take the win with her second ride of the day Pick and Mix III. Poor Millie managed to miss out a fence on her first ride Midnight Mist III in the 90PC section, she sure wasn’t going to make that same mistake twice and came out all guns blazing on her second ride who hasn’t evented since 2013.
Millie is part of a large Family who is headed up by David and LeeAnn Lawson, who are great supporters of all equestrian events in the north east and continue to split their time and support to BE and BS. Their eldest boy, Findlay, events and takes part in the U18 programme. He had an unfortunate stop with his new ride Funny Money III but was very pleased with their performance as they have only been a partnership for a few weeks and are still getting to know each other.
Scotsburn perhaps didn’t keep its reputation this year as Sunburn Scotsburn having been basked in glorious weather the last few years. However, there were many smiling faces going home after the event. With Global Energy continuing to support the horse trials this is one event that many riders should mark in their diary for next year as it is well worth the trip.
Images courtesy of Andrew Grant