Sonia Chapman reports …
Wellington completed a mammoth 4 days (well 5 if you count the International dressage on Friday) of competition over 7 different tracks.
The event had a ridiculous amount of entries as has come to be expected in these strange times, so although an extra day of competition was added a huge number of people were still sadly balloted. People expecting Wellington to be quieter and with less atmosphere than usual, despite the absence of the slide bouncy castle by showjumping, found an event with a fun vibe but big event feel.
The welcome change in the weather, combined with the great grass cover at Wellington provided good going across the four days. Despite the lack of outside spectators, the supporters with competitors still filled the watching mound on the cross country.
Wellington is known for its bold galloping tracks, at each level. Lucinda Fredericks commented that the new Novice track was particularly technical, with no let ups however it was a great event which she could not understand why they had not been to it on more occasions!
Riders who have trouble remembering their dressage tests, should take heart from the fact that even the top riders forget their tests. Mary King came smiling out of her Novice test admitting that she could not remember there being a second medium trot in the test but could not think what there was instead (a serpentine for anyone wondering)!
Kitty King and herself horse of lifetime Ceylor Lan won Advanced Section I, making it 2 advanced wins from 2 so far this season. This year Kitty has changed Sprouts routine which seem to be working wonders and now he has a less pressurised work life, with Kitty schooling him less than once a week with Kitty husband Ben spending time hacking him out. The plan is to not aim Sprout at a long format this season, but hopefully go to the new CCI4 star short at Little Downham.
Tom Jackson and the exciting 9 year old Capels Hollow Drift finished second in this section. Third place went to Ros Canter and the just as exciting 8 year Lordships Graffalo, who nows heads to the CCI4star 8/9 at Burnham Market.
A special mention has to go to Phoebe Locke and Cooley Challenger, who were the only combination to make the cross country time in this section.
Georgie Strang and Red Hot Cooley lived up to their name in advanced section J, finishing on their dressage score to pip Ros Canter and the experienced Zenshera (who led the dressage) to top the section. Third in this section went to Zara Tindall and Class Affair, who has been quoted by numerous people as “as mad as a split snake” and apparently only Zara is brave / crazy enough to ride! Fourth in this section went to Felicity Colins and the classy RSH CONTEND OR. Felicity was held on course during her round and was initially awarded 153-time penalties, despite being the first to admit her cross country speed is not always fast but she was surprised that she was that slow! This was a good confident result for Felicity who admits this year has been tough at times, which has seriously impacted her confidence and whether she would ever be competitive again, so well done.
The advanced sections were not as well supported as in some years, partly due to the close proximity of the event to Burgham where a number of the advanced horse ran, so consequently a number of withdrawals happened as people decided not to run at the level again so soon especially with no long formats in their plans for the remainder of the season.
Piggy March and the experienced Dargun won the large CIC3 star section, to kick off Piggy’s international wins for the 2020 season. Piggy and Dargun have been more or less unbeatable since the season has restarted with this being there fourth win, which would have been every start but they withdrew at Aston after the dressage. Piggy is looking forward to stepping Dargun up to four star soon and is now evented for the four star long at Burnham Market, if you like a gamble this combination could be one to put your money on for that competition as well. While Dargun lead from start to finish, only four combinations managed to obtain a dressage score in the twenties with second place Tom McEwan and third place Amy O Connor also managing it. Piggy did again with fifth placed Sportsfield Top Notch. Tom commented that the second place, felt slightly like a win considering it was Piggy on such an experienced horse. Amy was thrilled with the “beautiful” Sankro who was lying third after the dressage behind both Piggys horses and retained the position after the jumping.
Tom McEwen headed up the massive CCI2 star section on MHS Brown Jack, who had not been out of the top 5 on all his runs since the season restarted. This classy 6 year must be another on the list of potentials for the 3 British places at Le Lion 6 year world champs in October. New Zealand Rider Samantha Lissington was second after the dressage but was left ruing the last fence down in the showjumping. However, 13th out of 105 in your first international ( on this horse RICKER RIDGE RICOCHET) was a good result and as Sam admitted at least she stayed on unlike on two of her other rides from which one she got very wet! Final second place went to an extremely excited Louise Bradley and Alison Garlick’s POYNSTOWN BRAEVE, who gave her an amazing ride and jumped brilliantly. Louise was effusive at thanking all her team, helpers, owners and family alike. In addition to stating that the venue had done a cracking job and the ground being fantastic. Former Under 18 national champion Alice Davies Cooke and the six year old CAVALIER KING JOHN finished in third place. The smallest competitor in the section Elite Pony Stallion PROMETHEUS II and Melissa Joannides finished fourth, what a great result for this stunning seven year old pony.
Wellington was one of the first events to offer the very popular BE105 classes which bridge the gap between BE100 and the step up to BE Novice. Interesting professionals took all three of the BE105 sections with Will Furlong winning two of these. Jalifia made it a hat trick of wins by taking Section B, while Patito taking section A. David Britnell and his mothers CSF WHY ME topped section C, which was even more amazing as David had a crashing fall off his first horse at the Trakehner. As David explained the BE105 was of Novice technicality and up to height, with not many people making the time.
Kitty King and OGUE VERDI made it third time lucky to top the five year old section and earn a coveted place at the 5 year championships. Dressage leader Emily Jamieson Young and KLAAS-JAN B finished second, after picking up 1.6 too fast time penalties cross country. As Emily said they must have been enjoying themselves a little bit too much! Pippa Woodall was a proud breeder, when her homebred Katelane picked up third place with Georgie Strang in only her third ever event.
Molly Faulkner was untouchable in the Under 21 Intermediate on her two classy bay geldings, when picking up the top two spots. With Molly saying it was an unbelievable day and that both horses really pulled it out of the bag. In fact this section had some familiar names in it but maybe not quite as you would expect. With the former advanced ride of Dan Jocelyn Phoenix L now being ridden by his daughter Jaz, to finish 8th after 2 years off games. Ellie Fredericks was riding Britannia’s Mail the son of mother Lucinda’s Headley Britannia in her first ever Intermediate to finish 5th, how exciting for all involved.
One of the happiest, if not the happiest rider at Wellington had to be Franky Reid Warrilow who had her first event with the amazing Dolley Whisper since Blenheim 2018, due to injuries and the current situation. Franky admitted that she was extremely emotional crying after every phase, it just shows what a good partnership in eventing means. To provide the cherry on top, this easy run lead to Franky and Whisper picking an a third place in the Open Intermediate.
Riders are a dedicated bunch and seeming loyal to other equestrians, Sammi Birch took a fall cross country on Tuesday. Jonelle Price offered to drive Sammi’s lorry home, which is some detour to Marlborough via Cirencester especially after seven days of competing 5 of which were at Strzegom in Poland!
Images courtesy of Sophie Robbins