Event reports sponsored by Elite Horse Owners
Laura Phipps reports…
Somerford Park Farm hosted a weekend of competition with classes ranging from BE80(T) to BE100Plus. This popular venue produced flowing cross country courses, designed by Andrew Heffernan, which were built to encourage bold riding yet remaining progressive and educational for both horse and rider. Competitors were afforded the luxury of man- made take- offs and landings and the SJ and warm up on a surface,which no doubt was attractive to riders looking for the best ground.
Competitors rising for the first day of competition on the Saturday were greeted with sunny skies. However, as the day progressed they could be forgiven they had dozed off and awoken on a different day such was the difference in weather. Grey skies maybe, but a grey day it was not for one rider as Robyn Gray enjoyed a double win. Robyn made the switch from a racing career into eventing 4 seasons ago and now works for Andrew Heffernan, being based at Somerford primarily but also doing freelance riding. Robyn spoke to Eventing Worldwide about the switch “I mainly ride youngsters and bring them on but have 3 or 4 nice horses aiming for 1* at the end of the year – I am lucky to have 8 lovely horses in total.” Robyn was quick to praise the help of others when commenting “I couldn’t be doing any of this without the amazing help of owners and Andrew. Being based around Somerford surrounded by the best makes you strive to be the best you can.” Robyn’s two wins were achieved in BE90 Sections A & B. Section A winner Little Mill, a 5yo mare by Mill Law, has made an accomplished start to her career – her only 5 events have all culminated with top ten placings including two wins. Here, they added nothing to a dressage score of 28.0 ahead of in 2nd Harry Harding and Withington on 29.3. Robyn’s second ride Boleybawn Jackpot is also in his debut season and has accrued a win and two placings from five outings. This 5yo gelding by Dignified Van’t Zorgvliet produced a lovely 24.3 dressage and added nothing further to take the win comfortably from Robert Gilsenan and Landis Rocket Man on a mark of 27.0.
A wonderfully fine advertisement for the versatility of the New Forest pony was the winner of BE90
Section E, Willoway Court Jester. Jester switched to Eventing in July 2016 managing 5 double clears from 6 events and a 2nd place on two occasions. This 14.1hh 14yo by Peveril Peter Piper has an illustrious CV and was purchased from the source per se as his owner and rider Samantha Bebbington tells Eventing Worldwide his story: “I bought Jester as a 2yo from the Willoway Stud in the New Forest. He has been campaigned as a working hunter pony in both plaited and M&M classes competing at both RIHS and HOYS.” Sammy reflected on his win here by commenting “I’ve been working on his dressage this year hence we have started our season late – Somerford being our first event. I was delighted with the dressage and even more delighted with the win.” The win was achieved with a 32.5 double clear ahead of in 2nd Chloe Wilfort and Fergus Fullstop on 33.8. Sammy said of her plans for the season “We are hoping to have a go at Badminton Regionals later this year. I have also started competing our baby New Forest this year who obtained a double clear in a BE80 here.” He has big hooves to follow.
An unlikely pairing triumphed in BE100 Section I. Heidi Page bought her ride here, Duke, as a 4yo to “bring on and have fun with” however, Heidi had lost all her confidence and was told ‘buying an inexperienced warmblood wasn’t a great move.’That move turned out to be the purchase of a horse who is ‘amazing in every way’. The pair have been successfully eventing BE since 2014 but Duke is well versed in picking his hooves up and also competes in pure showjumping as Heidi tells Eventing Worldwide a little more about their story “We came 2nd at the BRC BE80T Champs, as it was then, and have worked our way up to BE100. I had the ultimate goal of Badminton Grassroots – we lived that dream this year completing in the BE90 which was an amazing experience. He’s also an awesome showjumper and has qualified for Scope in August. We will go there and also plan to do a few novices and see how he copes – I would love to do a 1*. He is very focussed but also quirky and will often show everyone his tricks. The showjumping helps with forward thinking and gaining confidence at higher heights.” Heidi, who works full time to ‘fund all the fun’, credits some ‘fab friends who help along the way’ and her sponsors Rowen Barbury Feeds to have been “amazing supporters of their journey.” They completed here on their dressage score of 26.0. Their journey continues onto Offchurch Bury for a BE105.
Another winner here is well versed in Somerfords undulations as course designer Andrew Heffernan won BE100 Plus Section M riding Casta Diva. No advantages are necessarily afforded when aboard a horse and they still require accurate riding whether the rider is familiar with terrain or not. Andrew rode for a double clear completing on their dressage mark of 29.3 ahead of Claire Walker and Quantico Z on 32.3.
Michael Owen certainly knew a thing or two about being accurate as he produced the same dressage mark of 27.5 and double clears on two rides in BE100 Section J. Unfortunately, they both couldn’t be winners and virtue of Woodys HonorMission being closer to the optimum time, he took the win. Michael rode Cappoquin Jon into 2nd place.
Section F – Felicity White & Rathfee Freebie
Section G – Lesley Clarkson & White & Ballylennon Lad
Section H – Charlie Barrett & Spice V
Section C – Janine Bowler & Hilary
Section N – Rebecca Parrott & Ross Culleens Lad
Section O – Chloe Whitney & Run For Fun
Section P – Tori Brown & Cruise Around
BE90 Open Section D – Claudia Horsley & Diamond Spectical
Section K – Harry Harding & Georgie Girl
BE100 Open Section L – Sally V Hutchinson & Rocksport
Photographs courtesy of Felicity White