FEI EQ Life Houghton International Horse Trials

Day one roundup 
Claire Fielding and Willa Newton share the lead at the top of the CCI1* class at the end of the dressage phase. Both riders posted a score of 38.6, with Dirk Schrade from Germany hard on their heels on a score of 38.8. Scores are very tight with less than four penalties separating the top 10, meaning that there is all to play for tomorrow. Their cross country starts at 11am, Matthew Heath riding Goodness Me first out of the start box.

Dirk Schrade had a good day today – he tops the CCI2* leaderboard with half of the field having completed their tests. Marks are equally tight; Paul Sims is 0.2 points behind Dirk, with Pippa Funnell completing the top three at this half way stage of the dressage.

Pippa Funnell currently leads the CICO3* riding Billy The Biz. Germany’s Andreas Ostholt lies in second place with his fellow FEI Nations Cup team mate Niklas Bschorer in fourth, separated by Tim Lips from the Netherlands.

The final section of dressage starts for the CIC3* riders at 9am, with New Zealand’s Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino first before the Ground Jury. At the same time Natalie Biggin and Bishop Bugsy take centre stage in the CCI2*. The CCI2* Askham Bryan Young Riders start at 10am, Sam Ecroyd the first to perform on Kafka, followed by Emily King on Charlemagne.

German riders dominate on day two of EQ Life FEI Houghton
German riders have dominated proceedings on the second day of the EQ Life Houghton International Horse Trials.

At the end of the dressage phase in the CICO3*, which features the British leg of the FEI Nations Cup competition, a Frenchman leads the individual rankings; Luc Chateau with Propriano De L’Ebat, but Germany leads the team rankings. It’s a close run thing with the Germans on 131.3, France on 133.1 and Great Britain on 136.1, so the British team of Pippa Funnell, Georgie Strang, Francis Whittington and Sarah Bullimore are putting in a strong performance and remain very much in touch.

Individually, Pippa Funnell with Billy The Biz is five points off the leader whilst a German rider, Andreas Ostholt riding So Is Et, completes the top three. So Is Et knows his way around the three star track at Houghton – he has twice previously finished third in this class. There is all to play for tomorrow as the competitors tackle first the show jumping and then the cross country course.

It was all change at the top of the CCI1* leaderboard courtesy of an influential cross country phase. Both of the dressage leaders, Claire Fielding and Willa Newton, encountered problems; Willa’s Caja 20 had a refusal at the Quarry Steps, almost in sight of the finish, while Claire and Jenga failed to complete – as did 4th placed Vittoria Panizzon and Fleeting Meeting.

This left the door open for Germany’s Dirk Schrade to slip into the lead after a faultless performance by the Contendro sired Call Me Honey, with Dirk’s second CCI1* horse Navarino now lying in 5th place, up from 9th=. Fellow German Joern Warner, who has been based with Bill Levett for the last couple of months, has moved up to fill the runner up spot with Vicco Pop, one point ahead of Britain’s Lucy Hawley riding Helpful Harry.

Germany also dominates the CCI2* at the end of the dressage phase. Another good performance by Dirk has put Mr Tom Tom in third place, but Bettina Hoy has an almost three penalty lead over the field after posting the only sub-30 score on Seigneur Medicott. Separating the Germans is Australian rider Christopher Burton with Nobilis 18, while Paul Sims is best of the Brits aboard Sam I Am III in 4th place.

Also competing at CCI2* level are the Under 21 Riders, vying to become the Askham Bryan British National Champion. Defending champion Will Furlong is currently lying third on Pioneer Silvie after an error or test. Out in front, in both 1st and 2nd place after dressage is Sophie How, who has to be the rider to beat this year.

Germany triumphs in FEI Nations Cup and CCI*
A strong German team, made up of Andreas Ostholt, Nicholas Bschorer, Dirk Schrade and Sandra Auffarth, won the British leg of the FEI Nations Cup competition. A smiling Hans Meltzer, one of the two German team trainers, admitted: “We are very happy to win here in England!”

With German team members taking second, fourth and fifth places individually, they finished almost 15 points clear of the British team who were, nevertheless, delighted given they had fielded a relatively inexperienced team of horses.

The French team, who had been in second place after the dressage phase, dropped behind the British four; Pippa Funnell, Georgie Strang, Francis Whittington and Sarah Bullimore, when Alexis Gomez had a refusal on the cross country course.

French honour was restored by Luc Chateau who claimed the individual 3* honours riding his homebred Propriano de l’Ebat. The Frenchman had brought the horse to Houghton two years ago, finishing down the order: “He’s a different horse now. I came hoping to be on the podium but to win is a dream.”

With Andreas Ostholt taking the runner up spot, Pippa Funnell finished third and best of the Brits in what was Billy The Biz’s first serious CIC3*.

3* Gallery

The CCI1* also concluded today and was a German whitewash. Dirk Schrade took first and third places, Call Me Honey and Navarino separated by Joern Warner on Vicco Pop. Dirk previously rode Call Me Honey’s dam at three star level and believes that as the seven-year-old Holsteiner learns how to handle his power, he will be really special.

Joern returns to his job as a dressage rider in Germany tomorrow, where he competes up to Prix St Georges. Torn between the two sports, after two months in the UK he has achieved his mission of learning how to event English style; “mainly learning to take cross country fences out of a gallop.”

1* Gallery

Sophie How remains at the top of the Askham Bryan National Under 21 CCI2*, although she is down to one ride, Bojangles HRS. Defending Champion Will Furlong has moved up to second place, ahead of Sam Ecroyd. Less than five penalties separate the top four so the pressure is on.

U21 2* Gallery

The top three remain unchanged in the CCI2*, leaving Bettina Hoy on Seigneur Medicott in the lead, with Christopher Burton second on Nobilis 18 and Dirk Schrade featuring again, third with Mr TomTom. These three, along with Jesse Campbell who has climbed four places in to fourth, completed the cross country phase with a clean sheet.

Going in to Sunday’s show jumping phase Bettina has no room for error with less than one pole (four penalties) separating the top two. Whilst a single rail down would keep her in second place there are less than five penalties between second and fifth so it should be a nail biting finish to this year’s EQ Life Houghton International.

FEI EQ Life Houghton International 2015 final day
Sophie How is the new Askham Bryan National Under 21 Champion, having led from the front on the nine-year-old Bojangles HRS, a ride she snaffled from her brother Tom at the end of 2012.

The 20-year-old from near Market Harborough not only takes the title, but also an Askham Bryan rug, an Inkerman cut gass bowl from British Eventing, a double bridle from the Worshipful Company of Saddlers and a year’s loan of a Suzuki ATV quad bike. “Bojangles really deserved this win; he’s so nearly been there so many times and then the odd blip has ruined things,” said Sophie.

Last year’s champions, Will Furlong and Livingstone II, had to settle for the runner up spot. Finishing on their dressage score, one of only two young rider combinations to do so, they had climbed up the leaderboard from eighth after the first phase. Sam Ecroyd claimed the final podium placing riding Wodan III.

Germany’s winning streak continued on the final day of Houghton 2015. This time it was Bettina Hoy taking the spoils, riding Seigneur Medicott. Bettina has brought horses to Houghton every year since 2010, and it was the Westfalian nine-year-old gelding’s second visit to Norfolk, but his first CCI2*.

2* Gallery

“He won the Novice Championships at Gatcombe in 2013, but had last season off due to injury,” Bettina explained. “The success of my fellow German riders really motivates me, and I feel like I am on a bit of a roll at the moment. I love coming to Houghton, it has always been a happy place for me.”

The top three remained as it had been throughout the competition. Runner up was Australia’s Chris Burton riding Nobilis, a horse sold to him by third placed Dirk Schrade, who this time was riding Mr TomTom. Five British riders were in the top 10, Matthew Wright the best of them in sixth place.

Report courtesy of Manners Media

Photographs courtesy of Eventing Images

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