Sarah Carless reports ….
Sun shines down on South of England
The South of England (1) fixture is one of the leading horse trials competitions on the British Eventing Calendar in the South East. This fixture attracted more than 500 entries over the two days of competition, with classes ranging from BE100 up to Advanced Intermediate.
Whilst some of the country’s top riders use the event to prepare their Badminton CCI**** mounts, the South of England competition also provided great preparation for those heading to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup. Amongst these was Kathy Staples, who has qualified for the BE100 Championships, and was the winner in BE100 Section D with Ideal Foxs Castle. Kathy was last year’s winner of the South East Eventers League (SEEL) Overall Grassroots category and the Equi-Vation BE100 Rankings. The pair were lying in joint second after the dressage with a score of 26.3 and added just 1.2 time faults to finish on 27.5.
Kathy told Eventing Worldwide: “It was great to have a win at the lovely South of England Horse Trials. It has taken a few runs to get him to settle back in to it but preparation for the championships is on track at the moment and a win always helps with the confidence.”
Sacha Hourigan continued her early season form with a win in BE100 Section C with Macadam Jewel. This pairing has now won two events this season – they won their BE90 Open class at Poplar Park in March, whilst they also picked up a second at Munstead.
Sasha Hargreaves was the winner in the Novice Under 18 Section L with Cranny Volt. They were the only combination to finish with a sub 30 score following a 27.8 dressage and a double clear with just two time penalties from the cross country.
Sasha, who has been competing the eight-year-old gelding for four seasons, told Eventing Worldwide: “Last season he really shone, winning the BE100u18 championships and then winning two more novices so I was really nervous about keeping it up this year. It feels really great to get an early season win as we plan to move him up to Intermediate within the next month. My aims with him is to get selected for the CICJ* team at Frickley this year and then to get him to 2* by the end of the season in order to do Junior trials next year. So, it was really great to get such a confident giving run so soon.”
Felicity Collins took a one-two in the Open Intermediate Under 21 Section M. Her win came on board Vicky Collins and Avrina Milton’s eight-year-old RSH Contend’Or whilst Just Amazing taking second place, with both horses aimed for the Young Rider National Championships in May.
RSH Contend’Or, or Mickey as he is known, led from start to finish, with a dressage score of 28.9 dressage – the only partnership to score in the 20s – followed by a clear show jumping round and a cruising cross country taking all direct routes, picking up just 2.8 time to take the win. This put him just in front of Just Amazing (Mazie), who produced a much improved 32.8 dressage score followed by a confident double clear adding just 3.2 time faults from the cross country.
Felicity describes Mickey, with whom she competed for Great Britain at the Junior European Championships last year when he was just seven years old winning a Bronze as part of the team and finishing ninth individually on their dressage score as the highest placed British rider, as exceptional and is a horse she has high hopes for.
She said: “I think Mickey will be my first 4* horse but he is very sharp and spooky so I’ve had to look after him and take him slowly. Now eight years old he will aim for Blenheim 8/9yo 3* in the Autumn. Mazie is homebred and has had many great results at 2* and Advanced after I took over the ride from my mum in 2015, but also has taken time to get really confident. But she gave me fantastic rounds at South of England. She was shortlisted for the Junior Europeans 2016 with my other horse and she too will aim to step up to 3* this season.”
It was a successful weekend for British Olympic riders Gemma Tattersall and Pippa Funnell, who both came away with two wins a piece. Gemma won BE100 Section A with Glensensaw Sweet Girl and followed this up with a win in Intermediate Section N on Chilli Knight. Pippa’s wins came in Open Intermediate Section with Billy Walk On and in the small Advanced Intermediate P on Sandman 7, where she also came fourth with her Badminton mount Billy Beware. Another Badminton came third in this section – Kristina Cook and Star Witness, one of her three possible rides at the CCI**** next month.
Christopher Burton took the win in Novice Section H with ‘star of the show’ Lawtown Girl, who was competing in her forst Novice. An impressive dressage score of 17.8 meant that even a pole down in the show jumping and 4.4 time faults from the cross country was enough to give them a win by 3.8 penalties.
Other section results; BE100 Section B Will Furlong, Bright Skylight; BE100 Open Section E Fiona Dallyn, The African Queen; BE100 Under 18 Section F Josie Smailes, ARS Vivella; Novice Section G Kevin McNab; Jilsonne Van Bareelhof; Novice Section I Kirsty Johnston, Lux Zen; Novice Section J Harriet Colderick, Watergate Bay; Open Novice Section K Jemima Upton, Easy Boy.
Photographs courtesy of Gary Horner