Sunny Scotland set the tone for a wonderful week of competition at Floors Castle.
With a completely new cross country course and re vamp of the existing layout, including a brand new water complex at the western end of the park, it promised to offer a fresh challenge for the Northern eventing scene.
Attracting the likes of Oliver Townend, Nicola Wilson, Paul Sims and Ben Hobday, who, fresh off the back of an exciting week of competition at Badminton, were ready and raring to tackle the new CIC** track.
Free stabling at Kelso racecourse, just a stones throw away from the castle, was a generous incentive to travel to the event and was most certainly appreciated by owners of the horses in the international classes.
Floors offered a full variety of eventing classes from BYEH, BE90 all the way through to intermediate and 2*.
This event is one of only a few that continue to run an intermediate course in Scotland so was well supported by those that needed the run. A letter sent by the organisers to British Eventing, requesting permission to give more prize money than the BE upper limit resulted in a boosted prize fund, plus £500 Devocoux vouchers to the winners of the two international classes.
The Dressage, which now takes place behind the main house, created an idyllic setting for the first phase of competition and the John Deere shuttle buggies on hand to ferry owners and grooms back and forth from the lorry park were a welcome assistance. The new showjumping layout was a welcome change which allowed bigger arenas and warm up areas and a good view from the sponsors and owners tent below the Castle. Tradestands now filled the space were the showjumping used to be and the lorry park was located next to those, which allowed fine viewing of the cross country course too.
The going on the cross country was fantastic and although plenty of rain had fallen in the past week there was nowhere on the track that was wet or sticky. The Ian Stark course was built on ‘proper distances’ that were designed to be jumped out of a cross country rhythm on curving lines. The questions were fair but testing and overall the riders came back smiling!
Oliver Townend was the first competitor in the Cazenove CIC** on his new ride Fenyas Elegance, previously ridden by Aiofe Clarke. They posted a respectable score of 49.8 In the dressage, a phase in which the mare is renowned to be tricky, 2 down in the showjumping and an unlucky run out at 15c the angled hedge after the bank on the cross country. A new partnership of only 2 weeks so will surely have lots to offer together in the future.
Not deterred by his earlier ride, top spoils were claimed by Oliver Townend on Power Drive who led the dressage on 37.6 adding 4 in the showjumping to finish just 0.1 penalty ahead of Nicola Wilson on Bulana. Ngong Hills finished 4th for Nicola and Oliver finished 5th and 8th on Ballaghmor Class and Silken Scully respectively.
Alex Postolowsky posted an impressive 31.9 in the Airpal CIC* dressage which was followed up by a convincing double clear, even the addition of 5.4 time penalties cross country kept her 3.4 penalties clear of her closest contender, Oliver Townend and Ridire Dorcha, who completed on their dressage score of 38.9 for 2nd spot. Jason Wood and The Causeway jumped round double clear inside the time to finish 3rd on 41.1.
The Wellocks Open Intermediate section was won by Ruth Edge and The Winter King. “I love coming to Floors, it’s one of my favourite events and The Winter King gave me a classy ride around the fabulous new course today, I’m thrilled with him”
Will Murray and Jamie Atkinson were 2nd and 3rd with double clears on Cause Celebre and Celtic Fortune but only 1 person managed to complete cross country with no time penalties, the 4th placed combination Jessica Mckie and Mischiveous.
Ruth Edge also won the Novice section H aboard Novice debut Hennesy Gold finishing on their dressage score of 23.5. The only other sub 30 dressage score was posted by 2nd placed Bella Innes Ker riding Cartown Wallabe. “She could have let me win in my own back garden!” joked Bella, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Roxborough, although is looking forward to using the course to school her horses round on Monday.
Report by Jodie Stokes
Photographs courtesy of Stevie Purves