Event reports sponsored by Elite Horse Owners..
Lorna Collins reports…
Speetley Equestrian Centre welcomed the eventing cohort to Chesterfield, Derbyshire, for two days of earnest and encouraging competition. Entrants in the Pre-Intro, Intro and Pre-Novice classes enjoyed the recent improvements that had been made across the site. Much care had been given to the ground. Although persistent heavy rain showers made it sticky, the take-offs and landings of every fence were treated and they rode well. The show-jumping was on a surface. Each class enjoyed an interesting and competitive track. The dressage warming up arena was crowded at peak times, on a slight slope, and the ground became cut up and tacky. But the arenas were flat and the ground in them retained its composure. The whole location became a useful ground for intense, fair competition.
Andrew Heffernan won a section of the Intro on Trebor, with the lowest score of the day: a double clear, to finish on his dressage of 18.8, 9 marks clear of his nearest rival. This horse is owned by one of the stewards at Speetley, Gill Shea. He won the Burghley Young Event Horse final last year, as a four-year-old. It was a good day for Andrew’s yard, Somerford Park Farm, since Robyn Gray (who rides for Andrew), also won an Intro section, on Little Mill II.
A winner of the Pre-Novice Open section, Sarah Healy, was full of praise for the venue: “Speetley have done a great job with the course, the new water complex rode really well and the course flowed much better this year.”
Sarah also works part-time as a dental hygienist. She says: “it’s great to have a day where I put normal clothes and makeup on!” Sarah juggles her kids, horses and the hygienist job; it’s hard to fit everything in. So her success at Speetley, a chance ride and last-minute entry, makes the hard work she puts in all worthwhile.
Nicki Grayson won an Intro section on Irish-bred Rainstown Michael (stable name Henry). Nicki says she “recently become a granny for the first time.” She “loved the course – it seemed like a challenge!” Undeterred by the rain and mud, Henry and Nicki gallivanted across the country, jumping effortlessly; although, she says: “I’ve come back cleaner after a days hunting!!”
Some of the winners at Speetley were those not winning a rosette, but those taking huge steps, and overcoming catastrophic obstacles, in their lives. One of these remarkable individuals was Wobbleberry challenge contestant Lisa Hardy. Lisa was here competing at her first ever one day event, having been diagnosed and treated for cancer. Speetley represented her true recovery from this cutthroat disease. Lisa’s joy at her completion, at her clear cross-country, demonstrated the powers that riding, horses, and these competitions we enter, have for bolstering our spirits. We may be crazy to do it, but it completes us. The joy.
In fact, the most popular locus at Speetley, for competitors, side-kicks and groupies, along with their loyal canines, was the lounge area in the marquee by the secretary’s tent. Here was an array of extremely comfortable sofas, complete with soft, plush cushions. People lounged around, for a pit-stop. Discussions took place about the horses (“Which one would you most like to take home?”), results (“How did you do?”), and the course (“Isn’t the new water jump great!”). A dry haven away from the intermittent rain showers. Nearby was the café, where you could get a cappuccino for £1 (much cheaper up here!), and a proper barbeque. This is the life.
Having journeyed 150 miles up the M1 to partake in the Pre-Novice at Speetley, your reporter came home with a terrible dressage, a double clear, and a minor placing on her talented, quirky horse. Was it worth the journey? For the inviting, friendly people; the interesting and confidence-giving courses; the event’s efficient, time-saving organisation: I’ll go up north again.
BE100 Section A: TATTYGARE NEVER LET ME GO, Dag Albert (SWE).
BE100 Section B: DARUNA BLUE, Hannah Atkinson.
BE100 Open Section C: B WALT LANDO Z, Sarah Healy.
BE100 Under 18 Section D: RINGWOOD SASNAKRA, Isabella Frost.
BE90 Section E: SKS SUMMER FOX, Scott Wallace.
BE90 Section F: ENDIGO, Will Crawley.
BE90 Section G: RAINSTOWN MICHAEL, Nicki Grayson.
BE90 Section H: CASTIELLE, Fiona Lundy.
BE90 Section I: LITTLE MILL II, Robyn Gray.
BE90 Section J: GEMINIS CLASSIC OPERA, Lisa Freckingham.
BE90 Open Section K: TREBOR, Andrew Heffernan.
BE80 Section L: HALYARD, Kerri Ardern.
BE80 Section M: BEHEY BOY II, Chloe Fairley.
BE100 Section N: KAIZER, Emma Beresford (NZL).
BE100 Section O: VITALITY III, Amy Hawley.
Photographs courtesy of Sue Westmoor