Bryony Skinner reports …

Riders praise refreshed Tweseldown in early season opener.

Four days of busy competition at Tweseldown provided many people with the start of the season they were hoping for, thanks to the fabulous ground and Spring weather. Tweseldown has recently been rejuvenated and riders were full of compliments for the event organisation and the fantastic job that course builder Dominic Moore, his team, and Eric Winter the course designer had done with the beautiful XC tracks.

The event provided some exciting wins for promising first time horse and rider combinations. Michael Jackson and Ballyheights came first in the Novice Section J, finishing on their dressage score of 33.8 and coming in comfortably under the optimum time across country to finish 1.2 points ahead of Tina Cook and Ballycoog Mr Popper. This was the first event for the partnership after Michael spotted Ballyheights whilst out hunting with the Heythrop in 2016 and spoke to his previous owner about his breeding and ability before taking him on to event, after he was bought by Redbarn Stud. Michael commented that ahead of the event he was ‘pretty confident it would go well, but to win was brilliant for everyone involved’.

Another win came for the first time combination of Adam Harvey and Don Diego in the 100 section A, where they added 0.8 time penalties to their dressage score of 30.5, to finish first. Berkshire based Adam made the long trip to Scotland to try Don Diego last year and subsequently bought him in September. Adam commented that the dressage bred horse ‘moves amazingly, but has the most incredible and athletic jump. So eventing seemed the right fit for him’. Adam had worried that the course was a bit strong for Don Diego as it was his first event, but he felt ‘bold and brave, not like your typical dressage horse!’. The pair will now be aiming for a 1* and maybe the 6 year old championships at Osberton. Adam also came 4th in the ON section M on Picasso V.

James Stocker and his horse Stuart (Rudy Valentino) were thrilled to achieve a dressage score of 30.5, their best to date in an intermediate, to take the win in the Intermediate section H after jumping a double clear. James has recently moved from Cornwall to work with Holly Woodhead and Parkfield Breeding as their second rider. James commented that he was ‘really pleased with how well Stuart performed……..The cross country rode brilliantly and was beautifully presented, Stuart flew over everything with room to spare.’ The pair are now aiming for young riders and will be competing at 2* and in the U21 intermediate events this season with plans to go advanced.

Kirsty Johnston and WTTL opposition Skylaw were the winners of the OI section D, adding 4 XC time penalties to their dressage score of 27.7 in a hotly contested section. Kirsty praised the event, commenting, ‘It was really great to get the season off to a good start, the new Tweseldown is wonderful and a credit to the whole team there. WTTL opposition Skylaw felt fantastic throughout the day and was clearly very pleased to be out and about again.

Gemma Tattersall and Artic Soul also jumped a double clear to come 5th in this section, the first event for Arctic Soul since Badminton 2016, after he sustained a minor injury.

Lauren Innes and Fision M had a comfortable victory in the Novice Section K after adding only 4.4 time penalties to their dressage score of 26.5 to win the section by almost 5 points. Lauren bought Fision M as 5yo from Ireland when her friends Chris Hunt and Brian Morrison from ‘Global Event Horses’ spotted him at a dealer’s yard. Lauren commented that ‘whilst he is exceptionally talented, last year he tended to get lit up by the atmosphere at events, particularly in the dressage so I have been working a lot on that (and his SJ) over the winter. It really seems to have paid off as he was very relaxed on Friday and led the dressage! He is an awesome xc horse and now he is 7yo he’s seems to have matured over the winter and is much more rideable.’ Lauren plans to take Fision M to Aldon CIC* before moving up to Intermediate with the hope that he will be competitive at the 7yo Championships. Lauren also came 2nd in the 100open section T, finishing on her dressage score of 26.3 on Ruben S

The 100u18 class on Saturday was highly competitive with a lot of combinations finishing on their low dressage scores. The section was won by Katie Higgins and her mare Tir Na Nog Shadow, who completed on their dressage of 21.8, and coming in across country 1 second under the optimum time.
Katie has had Tir Na Nog Shadow (aka Tinka) for just under 2 years and has produced her since she was 5 years old. 

Katie is a member of the East Kent Hunt Pony Club and a student at Mayfield school and regularly competes in a large variety of Pony Club, BE and NSEA events in dressage, showjumping, eventing and Jumping with Style. Last year the combination qualified for both the Pony Club Championships and the NSEA championships, as well as having their first BE win in the BE100u18 section at Eridge.

Katie commented: ‘We went out to Tweseldown on Saturday just for a nice, confident first run of the season and we were definitely not expecting such a fantastic result! We started off the day with a 21.8 dressage score which included a 10 for our halt and centre line (which was an extremely lovely surprise to say the least!) followed by a super double clear to remain on our dressage score and win our section!  The ground in both the showjumping and cross country was absolutely fabulous even after two days of eventing; the cross country was lovely and flowing and I had a huge grin throughout my round! I have now done 3 BE100’s at Tweseldown and the course has been completely different each time, which I absolutely love, so we’ll definitely be coming back for the second event! Tweseldown is always such a lovely, friendly event with everyone from the cheerful man that parks the horseboxes to the stewards and start team making you feel welcome!’.

Other section winners:
BE90 section W, Kate Linabury, Lisky Brook, BE90 section X, Jenna Good, Trewithian Hawkeweed, BE90 section Y, Stephanie Dean, Niobe, BE90 section Z, Henrietta Meddings, Martin S, BE90 section Z1, Rachel Stanhope, Iskaheen Queen, BE90 section Z2, Lucy Gasston, Smart Colours, BE100 section B, Alexa Palmer, Ogue Caviar, BE100 section C, Georgie Strang, Carrick Diamond Flyer, BE100 section Q, Kitty King, Drewmain Firefly, BE100 section R, Daisy Berkeley, Electoral Role, BE1oo section S, Tom Jackson, Georgio D Over, BE100 Open section P, Natalie Mcgoldrick, Tricky Johnie, BE100 open Section T, Lucy Gasston, Rockhill Dynasty, Novice section L, Sophie Damment, TS Mateus, Novice section O, Izzy Taylor, Monkeying Around, ON section M, Emily King, Walitze J Vejgard, ON section N, Millie Dumas, Fabian II, ON U18 section V, Eleanor Balysz, Opposition Angel Two, AI section I, Sir Mark Todd, NZB Campino, Intermediate Section G, Andrew Nicholson, Zacarias OI section E, Pippa Funnell, MGH Grafton Street, OI section F, Harry Meade, Vrolijk

Photographs courtesy of Gary Horner

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