Rika Nile reports ….
Upton House Horse Trials attracted a huge entry for its midweek event, which saw classes run over their BE100, Novice and Intermediate courses. This year organisers opted to omit the BE90 to allow for more space in the bigger classes. Despite this, the popularity of the Oxfordshire event was shown after 168 combinations were balloted, and several more waitlisted.
The organising team put in a monumental effort to prepare the ground, which made for excellent going considering the recent weather. The riders, professionals and amateurs alike, expressed their gratitude which allowed for many to run a bit more competitively.
Bill Levett commented on his Facebook page: “I was really impressed, as were all the riders, with how much effort had gone into preparing the ground given the extreme weather conditions we’ve been having over the last month or so. They had done a really good job and the going was very good”.
Fresh back from Nations Cup success on American soil, Georgie Spence collected a double win and two other top three placings over the two days. Her first came with Cooley Legaland, with a win in Intermediate section C, leading from the start on their 25.5 dressage. They added just a handful of time penalties to their dressage mark to finish on 30.7, still a few penalties clear of Jesse Campbell and Morning Fawlty who finished second on 33.2.
Georgie picked up a second win on Calvin II, this time in Open Novice section G. This was the combinations second win on the trot after also winning the Open Novice at Farley Hall just a couple of weeks before, remarkably on exactly the same mark of 24.8 – their dressage score at both events. Two third places finished off Georgie’s Upton campaign, which came on Homerus (Novice section M) and Vendi Fox (Novice section L).
The Open Intermediate sections were seriously competitive with some top combinations in the mix, including Oliver Townend on all three of his WEG long-listed rides. But it was Austin O’Conner with Kilpatrick Knight (OI section D) and Andrew Hoy riding Cheeky Calimbo (OI section E) who emerged top of the leader board in their respective sections, both finishing on their dressage mark. Finishing on a clean sheet across the Intermediate sections proved elusive, with only two other combinations managing the task. Those were Intermediate section B winner Alice Pearson riding Ciaos, who came home one second under the optimum time to stay on their 29.3 dressage, and Mike Jackson with PSH Bespoke who finished fourth in Open Intermediate section E with their dressage of 33.6.
Ireland’s Aoife Clark had a comfortable win in Novice section M with Homme D’Hotot M, when they were the only combination in the section to break the sub-30 barrier in the dressage, doing so in impressive style with 25. Followed by a double clear, Aoife gained 4.4 time penalties leaving her on 29.4, but still gave her room to spare over second placed Craig Barr and Ard Dassett Spectre who finished on 33.8.
Ard Dassett Spectre was not the only Dassett horse appearing in the top ten over the two days with Craig also picking up fifth in BE100 section J on Dassett Code, and Kate Rocher-Smith taking sixth in Intermediate section A on Call Me Dassett. It was Alice Rocher however, and her own Dassett Supreme, who took the top spot in Novice section L, finishing on their 24.8 dressage mark.
The best finishing score of the event went to Ella Hitchman and In Your Dreams III, who remained on their dressage mark of 21.8 to take the win in BE100 section I on the Thursday.
Other section winners:
Intermediate section A: Izzy Taylor – Liscarrow Conista
Intermediate section F: Tom McEwen – CHF Cooliser
BE100 section H: Amelia James – Little George
BE100 section J: Simon Grieve – Wish He Was Yours
BE100 section K: Lauren Cranham – Haddon Light Music