EVENT REPORTS – Aston Le Walls

Rika Nile reports …

For the final time in 2018, Aston-Le-Walls had a busy two days of Eventing after holding their final affiliated fixture over the last weekend of October. A late entry to the season’s calendar, Ann and Nigel Taylor and their team put on the event to substitute for those sadly lost over the course of the season – the additional event gratefully received by all competitors.

Christina Wiederkehr started her season on a win and continued in the same form to finish the season in the same way. Taking the top spot in BE100 section H, Christina rode her own Lilas Girl to a near foot perfect finish, just adding a show jumping time fault to their 27.8 dressage score.

Talking of the 7-year-old mare, Christina said:
“She came to me for schooling last December. She has a bit about her and back then her owner was looking for some guidance and advice. When the opportunity came up to buy her, I did just that. I’ve taken my time with her so she had a chance to build up strength and confidence.

“I adore her and love working with her. She is intelligent, sharp but willing and athletic. I’m looking forward to stepping her up to Novice next year.”

Eventing Worldwide last spoke to Christina at the beginning of the season after a win at Larkhill with DG Canta. Reflecting on her 2018 season Christina added:
“I have really enjoyed this season, all the horses I rode brought home some cracking results. DG Canta won at Novice, IN and was 6th at Bicton Intermediate. Lila’s girl started the season with a win and finished with a win. I really loved my season and wish it would go on!”

Another rider to start and finish her season on a win was Tilly Dowsing riding her 12-year-old gelding Harwood Fortitude, who returned to Eventing for the first time since 2015 this year.

Speaking of their journey, 18-year-old Tilly said:
“Chester did BE with me in 2015, but had an injury at the end of the season, so I then did dressage with him for 2 1/2 years, getting him up to medium at home but elementary competing. I decided at the start of this year that I really wanted to get back into eventing as I missed it so much. Especially as the vet had given him the all clear. So this year is out first year back! We started with a BE90PC and came 1st, then came 2nd in a BE90, and now 1st again at Aston.”

Leading from start to finish, the combination won BE90 section L by 7.5 marks, after finishing on their 25.3 dressage score ahead of Phoebe Cashmore and Nights On Broadway (32.8).

Owning Chester for 5 years, Tilly has produced him herself, which has made the win, and her aims even more special.
“I am so unbelievably proud of him. My aim for 2019 is to qualify for Badminton Grassroots. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing, it would be even more special knowing I would be doing it on a horse that I brought on myself.”

“Aston was a brilliant event, even with the freezing weather! Unfortunately the power went out right before my XC round so I had to wait for a while, but the volunteers where so helpful and kept everything running so smoothly. I also want to say a massive thank you to both my parents for the endless hours of driving and help with the horses. Not only going to BE events, but taking me to training too. Without all this support Chester and I wouldn’t be where we are now, so I am extremely grateful to them,” Tilly added.

Joanne Monkman joined Christina and Tilly in starting and finishing on a win, riding her 15.1hh mare G Damascus. Finishing on their 27.3 dressage mark, with a clear margin between them and 2nd placed Angus Humfrey with Hebbes (32.5), they topped the leaderboard in BE90 section J.

Another competitor aiming for the prestigious grassroots championships, Joanne, who juggles riding with being a Student Recruitment Manager, commented:

“It’s our first year eventing so a win means a lot as it means we have a Regional Final qualification place. When I got her she was a green 4 year old, but I’ve taken it slowly and done a bit of everything. Next year I’m hoping to carry on Eventing, and my dream is to compete at Badminton Grassroots!”

Josie Piddington finished her season on a high, with a very impressive dressage score of 18.8, to win BE90 section I with the 10-year-old ISH Angelo d’Argento.

Winning the section by nearly five marks, ahead of Victoria Nichols and Loobrhu Ard Grandpa who finished 2nd on 23, Josie also aims to qualify for Badminton Grassroots next year.

“The win is a huge confidence boost, when your working hard to improve all the time and then everything comes together it makes it all worth it! And hopefully made the 5am start slightly more worthwhile to my mum!” Josie said.

“We bought ‘Podge’ from a friend who had showjumped him just over 2 years ago. He was very inexperienced cross country but it was obvious very quickly that he loved it! Unfortunately he went lame in the spring of 2017, so we brought him back slowly and just focused on showjumping and a few hunter trials which meant we only started eventing this year! He’s been incredible and has the perfect attitude, I think we’ve both thoroughly enjoyed our first season eventing! Having competed at BE90 and UA100 this year, I’m hoping to compete at BE100 next season,” Josie finished.

Aimee Penny also had an impressive dressage mark, riding a foot perfect double clear on Gary Power’s PSH Deneb to make the 17.8 mark her finishing score.

“This win means a lot as the mare has come a long way this season, having only stepped up to novice two runs ago. We knew she had a win in her, however finishing in the teens in a novice wasn’t what we had in mind!” Aimee explained.

The 10-year-old mare, who was bred by owner Gary Power, only joined Aimee’s string in March, but had gone from strength to strength.

“She has done nothing but improve. I really rate her as a top horse for the future! Ultimately, my main aim would be to take this horse 2*, but I will just take my time with her,” said Cheshire based Aimee, who runs her own yard alongside working at a race yard.

“I’m looking forward to 2019 season as I have a string of very exciting event horses, but I would also just like to say thank you to my owners and sponsors who have supported me throughout the 2018 season and everyone at Team Penny Eventing, of whom this season wouldn’t have been possible,” Aimee finished.

Overcoming a confidence crisis in the run up to the event made for a special win for Melanie Betts and Wood View Tom in BE80(T) section P. After falling twice in training before the event, Melanie came up with a different way to overcome any potential nerves.

“I was worried I would be really nervous after falling off, and then I can’t function as my heart rate gets so high! So I watched several hours of professional bull riding on the TV last week to desensitise myself to falling off – for them staying on for just 8 seconds is a ‘success’ so it puts hitting the deck into a different perspective!” Melanie explained.

“I was really surprised to win as it’s only his second BE event. I bought him 2 years ago from Ireland as a 5-year-old. I’d been looking for an older schoolmaster as I’m not a very confident rider, but couldn’t find one which was sound enough! He seemed nice and quiet when I tried him on a boiling hot day in the middle of a field in Sligo, but he turned out to be a lot more green and sensitive than I realised when he got home,” said Melanie, who is a part time McTimoney Equine therapist and also runs a small PR company.

“It’s taken a while to find the ‘keys’ with him – he’s really noise sensitive and any exposure to fresh grass makes for an exciting outing so balancing turnout with no fresh grass can be challenging! However, over the past 2 years, we have built a partnership and he’s matured physically and mentally and now I think he trusts me – at least most of the time!”

Other section winners:
BE90 section K: Amanda Bernard- Cailin II
BE100 section F: Michele Hill – Terrygreehan Dempsey
BE100 section G: Annabelle Miners – Chorleys Viscount
BE100 section M: Anna Saunders – Curious Lady
BE100 section N: John-Paul Sheffield – Midnight Blues
BE100 section O: John-Paul Sheffield – Up On Stage
Open Novice section A: Louisa Lockwood – Finley IV
Novice section B: Ibby MacPherson – Ballinamurra De Valera
Novice section D: James Sommerville – G Star
Novice section E: Gordon Murphy – Monbeg After Dark