Kc Hains reports ..
The Derbyshire based team at Speetley Equestrian Centre faced quite the challenge in preparation for the 2019 Speetley Horse Trials, with thanks to our wonderful British summer event season weather rollercoaster. It seems one too many event riders may have been performing the familiar rain dance in fear of hard ground over the early months of the 2019 season, as we were greeted by a seemingly never-ending period of heavy rainfall. This has inevitably resulted in a number of event abandonments up and down the country. However fortunately well established, well-draining turf and a huge amount of preparation no doubt helped in keeping Speetley running with excellent ground conditions all day.
Regretfully due to low entries the decision was made to reduce from two days of competition to one, a call that was most certainly not made lightly.
“It was with a heavy heart that we decided not to run on the second day of our event. A lack of entries made it a financial impossibility to run over two days.” Said event organiser Lisa Renshaw on the Speetley Equestrian Centre Facebook page.
Nevertheless, it was set to be an exciting and competitive day of competition, 9 sections from BE80T to BE100 ran seamlessly throughout the day with thanks to Lisa and a dedicated team of friends and volunteers.
“What a wonderful and happy day we shared with those who came on Saturday. At times we had rain and wind but this didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit.”
The day was kicked off with the BE100 sections and a convincing win from Sarah Hedges and Hamlet, finishing up just adding 0.8 time to their 28.5 dressage putting them ahead of Jo Carlin and Water Mill Smooth in section A. This promising gelding, bought with the next Olympic cycle in mind, is at the very start of his career and has been carefully introduced to the eventing circuit by Sarah on behalf of Alex Hua Tian and owner Vivian Gu, having only Show Jumped previously.
“Hamlet is literally the worlds most perfect horse and has the personality of a Labrador, and it’s an honour to get to start his career off.” Said Sarah of this talented 7yo by Chello III VDL “I’ve only run him slowly so far as he’s such a careful, deliberate jumper and we are producing him for bigger things but today Alex said I could open him up a bit and teach him about going a bit quicker! So it was great he had a little win.”
Freelance rider and coach Vicki Lowe and Ava III took the win in section B, adding 0.4 time to their section topping 26.5 dressage.
“I normally have a horse that I buy, produce, enjoy and then sell. I’ve now had Ava for 4 years and completely adore her!” Said Vicki, who admits she can’t bring herself to sell this one.
“She was a little on her toes all day due to the awful wind and rain, but I think this helped as she is quite lazy normally! I only won by 0.1 as I managed to miss just the XC time!”
The ever popular BE100u18 section saw Lucy Baguley and the seasoned eventing pony stallion Glencarrig Dolphin claim the top spot with Molly Fletcher and Grandioos hot on their heels just 0.5 penalties behind, both impressively finishing on their dressage marks.
On to the hotly contested BE90 sections where the spirit of grassroots eventing was pleasingly abundant throughout the three sections. Samantha Salden, who has made a return to eventing after an eight-year break having a young family, added to her successful season with a win in section F. Samantha’s journey is an inspiring one for all amateur event riders, having bought the green mare Midnight Madness II 18 months ago; having not jumped a jump during her time off games they have learnt and grown together to now be heading to a Regional Final.
“Her flat work was appalling, and she’d never seen a XC fence! However, since having her we have formed a really strong partnership and worked very hard with our instructor Helen Scholl to finally this weekend achieve our first sub 30 dressage! This season has been fabulous for an amateur combination; we have been placed at every event we have done!” explained an ecstatic Samantha.
“On the day at Speetley her dressage was very calm and obedient despite billowing gale force winds and view of the XC course! Show Jumping is always my nemesis but we managed a beautiful clear round in the rain where others seemed to struggle. I was concerned that the ground could be slippy on the XC but all credit to the organisers as the going rode perfectly. We stormed round to be 13 seconds inside the time. When I saw my score, I was over the moon to be in the lead!”
Section G was yet another competitive section with an incredibly close result, just 0.2 penalties separating the top 2 places. Professional dressage coach Emily Watts and the inexperienced mare Coombe Crest came out on top, finishing on their dressage of 26.3 in the 6-year-old mares third event.
“I bought Cress [Coombe Crest] last year after she had been backed as a fun project, but I haven’t sold her as I am actually having too much fun jumping her! It was only her third event and she lead the section from the start with a 26 dressage.” Said Emily, who runs a small dressage yard in Audley.
The final section of the day provided us with an exciting conclusion to the day and a great demonstration of grassroots eventing. Jennifer Deakin and 14 year old Danaway Sommersby won the section on their dressage of 32, Jennifer bought Ollie [Danaway Sommersby] as a happy hack ten years ago,
“We’ve both taught each other a lot and have had to give each other confidence at different times. When I got him I always thought we would be happy hackers, then you try just one competition and before you know it you’re doing BE and planning you holidays around the eventing season!” Explained Jennifer, who works full time to fund her eventing.
“Quite honestly we were lucky to even be there! Ollie had laser surgery to remove a massive sarcoid under his tail in April. I thought the whole season would be a write off because I expected him to lose all his fitness with the box rest. We were third after dressage but I planned out my timings on the course and which fence I needed to reach at certain times. I couldn’t believe it, at fence 15 I glanced and saw I was ahead of where I expected to be! Ollie is a full Welsh Section D and not usually the spriteliest!” Recalled an obviously ecstatic Jennifer.
“When it all comes together on a day like at Speetley it’s one of those moments where you feel the hard work juggling a full-time job and training is worthwhile!”.
Also enjoying success in the BE80 class was Alice Pickersgill and 8-year-old Smilla IV finishing up 5th. Milly [Smilla IV] is in fact owners Simone Wadcock’s daughters’ horse but with GCSE exam pressure looming she was unable to compete as much as she would have liked so the ride was offered to their good friend Alice.
“Milly had only been XC schooling twice before the start of this season and at her first BE at Speetley she held the section lead for most of the day with a dressage score of 29.5. A double clear would have resulted in the win but unfortunately, they got time faults for going too fast XC and were eventually placed 5th. Which is a fantastic achievement in her first BE event.” Explained owner Simone.
“She is a very brave mare and a natural quick thinker who literally clears the XC jumps as if they were ‘just in her way’!”.
All Section Winners –
BE100 Section A – Sarah Hedges / Hamlet
BE100 Section B – Vicki Lowe / Ava III
BE100 Open U18 – Lucy Baguley / Glencarrig Dolphin
BE100 Open Section D – Simon Middleton / Aaragon
BE90 Section E – Rebecca Clark / Country Rioca
BE90 Section F – Samantha Salden / Midnight Madness II
BE90 Section G – Emily Watts / Coombe Crest
BE80 Section H – Jennifer Deakin / Danaway Sommersby