Bryony Skinner reports…
After a long lay off for eventers, the first run for many came at Tweseldown on 10-13th July, a weekend that many had looked forward to for months and did not disappoint. A dry spell had worried many towards the end of lock down but fortunately some rain arrived and ensured the ground conditions were perfect before leaving dry weather and sunshine to welcome people back to eventing. The team at Tweseldown made huge efforts to ensure social distancing guidelines were met and competitors enjoyed the new “normal” of smaller numbers in the warm up arenas and strict times for arrival and departure, praising the volunteers and organisers for the smooth running of the event.
The weekend started on Friday with the Novice and Intermediate classes, which saw many well known riders competing.
The Open Novice Section A was won by Jemima Stratton and her own gelding Global H; completing on their dressage score of 28.8. Jemima said, “We bought a share in Global H (Harry) a couple of years back when he didn’t quite suit the life of a dressage horse with Carl Hester. Holly (Woodhead) produced him for just over a season and then we fully bought him in 2018 when I was just coming off ponies. It’s definitely been a long journey for everything to come together, especially considering he’s a very quirky character! When I first started riding him I had absolutely no confidence cross country and actually this Friday at Tweseldown was the first time coming out of the start box that I’ve known without a doubt that he would get me round. I never really thought I’d actually win as there were so many top riders in my section, usually when i’m sitting in the top spot I manage to do something stupid to drop down the leaderboard (both times I’ve been in the lead at Bicton I got lost cross-country) and so Caroline Harris made sure to talk me through the course in the warm up use to make sure I didn’t make the same mistake again! I also forgot to start my watch so I just assumed that I would be getting time penalties but it all just seemed to come together. The track was absolutely perfect for a first run after a lack of prep and it flowed perfectly with just enough questions to keep the horses thinking. In terms of aims, I had been hoping to get Harry on the junior team this year after some very good results last year, but obviously with that cancelled we’ll just have to concentrate on moving up the levels, seeing what we can do and possibly aiming at a young rider team next year if all goes to plan!”
Piggy March won the ON section B with a new ride taken on from Emily King, 12 year old gelding, Dargun. Piggy commented on her Facebook page:
“Lovely to be back in competitive action at Tweseldown yesterday. Thank you to everyone who has made it possible and got the show back on the road. Dargun was the star with a 22 dressage and nothing to add in either show jumping or cross country to win his section. He’s feeling good so looking forward to taking him on up the levels as the season progresses.”
Pippa Funnell took the win in the BE Novice section C with Billy Cassidy and was delighted to be back out competing. The pair won the section after adding 7.2 time faults x country to their dressage score of 21.3. Pippa commented on her Facebook page:
“I wasn’t 100% sure how excited I was to get back Eventing this year, but having three lovely horses to ride in Billy Cassidy, Maybach and Billy Wonder it made me realise how much I have missed it and how much I still get such a buzz from our great sport and the smiles it puts on the horses faces.
So thrilled they were all stars with double clears and nice tests, Cassidy earning his first British Eventing points with a win in his first novice, some 36 years after my first British Eventing win at Tweseldown with Sir Barnaby. Dear Mum was there then as she was today watching her own and Ruth McMullen’s Billy Wonder, hopefully on the road to becoming a star of the future. Top job Tweseldown and it’s huge team of volunteers. Thank you”
Kitty King had a busy weekend with 4 rides and took the win in the BE Novice section D on 6 year old gelding Monbeg Hendricks, completing on their dressage score of 26. The combination came 4th in the 5 year old championships at Osberton last October and seem set for a good season for the remainder of 2020. Kitty commented on her facebook page: “Fantastic way to kick off the post lockdown season. Monbeg Hendricks was a superstar at Tweseldown, winning the Novice on his fabulous dressage score of 26. So proud of how this super six year old has come out after such a long break from competition. Looking forwards to going back on Sunday with three first timers!
Thank you Tweseldown for running such a slick event, with great social distancing measures so everyone felt able to return to competition safely”
Gaspard Maksud was another rider to have a very busy and successful weekend, riding 5 horses and winning the Intermediate section E with Cado Louvo being the only horse to complete on his dressage score of 30.2. Gaspard also came 3rd and 4th in two BE100 sections and 7th aboard another ride in the Intermediate section F. This section was won by Dani Evans who subsequently came 2nd in the Intermediate Section E to Gaspard. Dani won her section with the ten year old gelding C Born Fresh Z, finishing on a dressage score of 28.9.
“Cado Louvo is an 8yr gelding selle français owned by the GMR Syndicate and myself (few more shares available).
The course was strong enough for a restart. Bold fences and a few technical lines but all very clear for the horses. The time was tight (I was the only one inside the time) but possible. I hope to finish the season at Advanced/cci3*L, then next year going to Gatcombe intermediate championships and Blenheim 8/9yr.”
Harry Meade had three horses competing across the OI classes and took 1st and 4th on two of them. He won the OI section H with the 9 year old gelding Gideon, adding only 0.4 time faults to a dressage score of 25.7 in a hotly contested section.
The BE80 Section J was won by Katie Timberlake aboard her sister’s horse Cousin Jack IV. The combination returned this season after a win last August at Moreton Morrell. Katie commented:
“Cousin Jack Iv (Joey) is my twin sister Eleanor’s horse. We got him in in 2014 and he hadn’t ever evented, just unaffiliated dressage and sj. I have produced him myself and started Eventing him in 2015. Our dressage was mid/ high 30’s and we regularly had poles. Gradually with training we have been getting low/ mid 20’s and double clears and in the placings. He is a xc machine but sj has always been our weakest discipline so I was delighted to have stayed on my dressage score of 28 at Tweseldown securing first place by .2 penalties. It was great to be back out and as always at Tweseldown the course rode really well with a couple of questions. My dream is to qualify for the BE80 championship so we will continue to work hard and keep our fingers crossed.”
First time combination Ellie Mansbridge and Urikaine, won their first ever event in the BE80(T) section L completing on a dressage score of 28.3. Ellie said, “I have had Urikaine (aka- Harry) on loan and we’ve only been together for a few months. Although Harry has done a few BE competitions, I had only done one event before Tweseldown. I really enjoyed the course and found it very inviting as Harry can be a little spooky coming into fences. The ground was great and it overall gave me a great ride. For the coming season I’m planning on moving up the levels and hopefully getting to BE 90 and 100. I’m new to eventing but with my amazing horse and my fab coach Caron Roberts I wouldn’t be on the positive journey I’m on now. Onwards and upwards from here!”
After coming 8th at Badminton Grassroots BE90 in 2019 Nathalie George and A Little Bit Unbelievable took the win in the BE90 section N. A delighted Natalie commented:
“He was fab and it was so great to be back out eventing! It all went very smoothly all things considered. We are now in our 4th season together and having qualified for BE 100 grassroots championships, that is what we are working towards. The aim was to come out and have a fun/confident outing given the break. He was super relaxed producing a lovely test and stormed around the xc. The track was nice flowing and the jumps were beautifully built and very inviting.”
The BE100 secion Q was won by Harry Horgan on one of his three rides of the weekend, Sirius SB. The 6 year old gelding added 4 SJ penalties to his very good dressage score of 20.8 which still left him far ahead of the rest of the section. Harry said, “Sirius is owned by Mrs Sara Brown. We found him as a 3yo through the Brightwells Auction, and as a 4yo he went on to win the BYEH final. He had a relatively quiet year last year, we have given him plenty of time to strengthen up and mature. He is an incredibly exciting horse for Sara and I, that we think a huge amount of. The course was educational in it had a bit of everything which was ideal for our greener horses. Huge thank you to team Twesledown and volunteers. We would love to target Le Lion 7 yo’s for Sirius next year.”
Another horse aiming for Le Lion next year was the winner of the BE90 Section A1; 5 year old gelding Klaas-Jan B, ridden by Emily Young-Jamieson at his first ever event. They kept a clean sheet and completed on their dressage score of 25.5, finishing 0.8 penalties ahead of the second placed combination. Emily commented:
“Klaas Jan B is a 5 yo by Cannabis Z owned by Julian and Anna Podger. He came to me as a 4yo to break in and produce in April 2019 and won his first show – the BYEH at Chepstow last year; so it was great to follow that up with a win for his Eventing debut today at Tweseldown. He gave me a great ride round the lovely track which really filled the horses with confidence and he felt superb through the last water. He is such an exciting horse that shows strength and quality in all three phases. I hope to qualify him for the 5yo championships at Osberton this season and hopefully aim him as a potential candidate for Le Lion next year.”
Laura Collett won the BE100 section W rather convincingly, completing on a dressage score of 16.3 which was 11.7 penalties ahead of the 2nd place combination. This was the first event for Laura with the 6 year old mare Rossmount Trendy, previously ridden by Sam Gillespie. Laura rode 4 horses over the weekend and came 2nd in the BE100 with Canyon du Fort Vert and 3rd in the OI with Calmaro. Laura commented on her Facebook page:
“Its been SO good to be back out eventing….THANK YOU to all the team at Tweseldown Horse Trials for putting a very safe and efficient event on.
Calmaro was a little star on Friday …. 21.1 dressage and a lovely steady double clear in the OI to finish 3rd.
Today Rossmount Trendy was a total star at our first event together … finished on her 16.3 dressage for1st, Canyon Du Fort Vert was totally awesome on his eventing debut for 2nd and Sarazen Bridge was fab round his first event this season.”
At the end of a busy first weekend of eventing in 2020, riders were full of praise for British Eventing and Tweseldown organisers for putting on a fantastic event within the restrictions put in place. The new normal may be different but the overwhelming feeling was one of gratitude from people that they were able to return to the sport in a safe and secure way.
Other winners: Open Intermediate section G – Georgia Bartlett, Spano de Nazca; BE80 section I – Amy Hryhoruk, Inpuls V; BE80 section K – Anna Holmes, Sunnydale Drifter II; BE90 section M – Bethany Cole, Fronerthig Bendigeidfran; BE90 section O – Amy Sanders, Lily Dew; BE100 Section P – Sam Sweeney, Burntwood Sorrell; BE100 section R – Kevin McNab, Cute Girl; BE100 section S – Georgie Spence, Headleys Cosmic Twist; BE90 section T – Tilly Hastilow, Fedorian; BE90 section U – Katie Oppenheimer, SOS Sealpoint; BE100 section X – Pippa Royle, North Star II; BE100 Section Y – Andrew James, Holywell Cavaliers Pride; BE1oo section Z – Caroline Day, Fenomeen L; BE90 section B1 – Gwen Phillips, Katinka; BE90 section C1 – Bea Shepherd, Galloon Jackpot.
IMAGES COURTESY OF SOPHIE JADE ROBINS