Amanda Rushby reports..

Gatcombe Park paid host to its last International of the 2015 season by kind permission of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. With Novice, Intermediate CIC* and CIC** classes running on the Friday to Sunday, professional riders from miles around turned out in swarms to contend with the beautiful Gloucestershire estate. It was to be a fantastic weekend for Alex Bragg, as he took two wins with Mrs Liz Scott’s Duke of Axbridge and with Ms Sarah Boon’s Spypark Ferro XS both completing double clears with just a few cross country time faults added onto their dressage scores of 33.2 and 24 respectively. Bragg commented, “I was really pleased with how all of the horses performed at Gatcombe, it was a great show for us. Duke of Axbridge stormed to victory in his Intermediate section with a fantastic double clear. This is his best result of his career to date. Spypark Ferro XS is a relatively inexperienced six year old but has shown huge potential. He is a big horse and we’ve been waiting for the ground to soften up before we ran him competitively across the country. The rain that we had prior to Gatcombe made it ideal for us to see what he was made of and he didn’t disappoint. He lead from the start with a super dressage of 24 and jumped an encouraging double clear for the win. Whatley Manor were the generous sponsors at Gatcombe and courtesy of them we will enjoy a spa day for two at their fabulous hotel. I think Simmone has earned this putting up with me all season!”.

The CIC* saw a huge field of starters with a total of ninety-one competitors with seventy-nine completing. The competitive field meant that a double clear within the time was imperative to a top placing with Coral Keen and Cascadelle proving they had what it takes to win the section by two clear points. The 16hh mare has only this season moved up from BE100 and at just six years old is making all the right noises to be a competitive one to watch for the future. Vittoria Panizzon then snapped closely at Keen’s heels with her first of five rides of the weekend.

Showing it wasn’t just the pro’s that were making their mark at Gatcombe, Steve Garrod and Ufonzo then took third place with a 49.7 double clear. Garrod said, “This is my best International result to date and as a full time Farrier, running my own business, producing our own event horses from scratch, ‘on the side’ this is amazing! We (Izzy Lawrence and my partner, Teresa Camm) bought Ufonzo as a just backed four year old from Neil Fiddis. The three of us  work together producing the horses with, to be honest, the main aim of having fun. We call ourselves, ‘professional amateurs’! Ash (Ufonzo) has been tricky to train really as he’s very sensitive and quite quirky, he’s incredibly spooky! When I first took him to a jump training session with my trainer, Simon Nicholson, he stopped, reared and spun around numerous times at trotting poles on the floor! We’ve taken things really slowly building a trust partnership. He’s so talented in all three phases. We began training with Ruth Edge towards the end of last season and she’s been incredible. I really look forward to each session nowadays. We had a delayed start this season as Ash kicked himself in the lorry so our first BE run was Skipton in July, We’ve had a fabulous ten days to be honest with our win on Saturday at Hutton and then Gatcombe, the hard work in finally paying off! We were also tenth last year in the British Young Event Horse Finals too! British Horse Feeds kindly support us.” 

The Novice course followed the same CIC* track with a few more technical elements removed and a total of six sections attempted the course. Section I saw hot contention between Fiona Breach and Sam Griffiths with just 0.8 of a score after dressage leaving Breach sitting behind Griffiths who produced a 26.  Four faults in the show jumping from Griffiths was all Breach needed as she produced a fantastic double clear. Breach commented, “He was a star and I was very pleased with him. I have had the ride for just over a year. He was sent to me as a five year old from his owner, Kate Lawson, who husband was posted in Guernsey for three years. She bred him and wanted him to be produced whilst she is based over there. He is a fantastic jumper and extremely brave and straight cross country and although he always gets very good marks on the flat he can be quite opinionated about what he thinks he should and what I require him to do! He is a fun horse which I think could surprise people and keeps moving up the grades effortlessly.”

Emily Young-Jamieson then followed up with a third to complete what was a fantastic weekend for her, “We had such a good weekend! I have finally changed my luck at Gatcombe with four rides, four double clears and four placings. Gortmore Tommy T was foot perfect in his prep run before Osberton CC**, it was tempting to run fast as he led the dressage but I stuck to my plan and ran him off the pace with Osberton in mind. Vihara Du Causse, owned by James and Nicole Pearson, jumped another super double clear for third. He finds it all too easy and will be heading for Osberton CIC YH*. GRC Clover who finished sixth was so much fun to ride cross country, easily getting inside the time. He is now ready for a CCI* and is also for sale. My fourth ride was at West Wilts on Sunday which jumped a solid double clear for second.”

Ali Al-Marri took his first British Eventing win in Section J with Fernhill Friendly Touch who is owned by the Qatar Equestrian Federation. The eight year old gelding by Vriend has only been competing at BE Affilliated events since the 2014 season. Al-Marri said, “It was an honour to meet Princess Ann and to compete at the beautiful Gatcombe Park. I had a fantastic ride on my wonderful horse and hope to come back next year. I also wish to thank the Qatar Equestrian Federation and my coach Joss Gray.”

Section K was particularly competitive with nearly half the field achieving a sub thirty dressage score. It was Vittoria Panizzon’s Head Girl, Lizzie Doolittle, who maintained her dressage lead to win the section. Doolittle said, “I’m currently based with Vittoria Panizzon as Head Girl with both horses there with me, so I owe a big thank you to her for all of her help. She has particularly helped me with the cross country and has shown me how to get inside the time! It was only Penstrumbly Jubilee’s (JB) second outing this year due to injury so I was amazed to get a double clear as show jumping isn’t his best phase. To come sixth in a competitive section was more than I ever expected! Shop DJ (DJ) winning his Novice section by nearly four marks was amazing, he tries so hard and it’s about time he got a win! He’s a super horse and finds most things jumping related easy. He flew around the cross country, I though there were enough questions but he didn’t and cruised round easily making the time. I’m hoping for the luck to stay with us at Ballindenisk next week!”

Section L was the first of Team Bragg’s wins with Spypark Ferro XS producing a 24 double clear, closely followed by Colina Pickles and Pebbly Ptarmigan. Pickles said, “The horse is owned by Ali Butler and he is primarily her hunter, however he is allowed to come eventing with me which is a real treat as he is super in all three phases. He has stepped up to Novice this year and so far in four outings has been first, second and fifth. He has gone back home to start hunting but hopefully will be back for some more fun next year and will aim for the Gatcombe Novice Championships. Ali had him at Badminton Grassroots this year where he went superbly so I may have to fight for the ride!”

Ginny Wells added to a fantastic season with Cassino Reeb who produced yet another top ten placing, Wells said, “Cassino Reeb is a six year old Irish Sports Horse by Cassini. I brought him from Vere Phillips at the beginning of the year in January, he really likes the horse and has high hopes for him. This season he has been placed every time out in BE100 with dressage marks in the twenties most times and progressed up to Novice very well with a lot of double clears and top ten placings. He won two Novices in a row, one at Stratford Hills on a 23 dressage and another at Carlton. He has so much scope. I spent the beginning of the year until March with him training and working for Ben Hobday at Somerford. Ben thought very highly of the horse. In his first Novice he went double clear at Aston Le Walls. He is now aimed for the CCI* at Osberton at the end of the year. I did think about doing the six year old championships there but he’s done two CIC’s already which have gone very well. He is a promising young horse who I think very highly of. He now has twenty two points therefore is out of Novice. He is brilliant cross country and has given me some amazing rides.”

Chris Hall and Selina Milnes were both hoping for good results in Section M of the Novice before moving both horses up to Intermediate level. Cooley Tanglewood produced a lovely 24.5 double clear to win with Milnes commenting, “I purchased Cooley Tanglewood from Richard Sheane in Ireland as a four year old. She has been a super mare to produce. By winning at Gatcombe she has just upgraded having finished second in her two previous runs. She is very established at this level and I will hopefully get an Intermediate run in before the end of the season. I had a super ride at Gatcombe, probably running on the best ground we have had all year.” Chris Hall was also full or praise for Fresh 2 O Triple C’s second placing saying, “We’ve been working hard on Fresh 2 O Triple C’s dressage and it seemed to pay off! He jumped very well and now heads to Pontispool for his first Intermediate. Classic Affair (fifth in Intermediate) has his first Intermediate. I was riding for Anna Horton who owns the horse who is sadly out with a broken leg. Paganini was fourth in the Intermediate and backs up what has been a very consistent season.”

Section N in the Open Novice saw the young horses rise to the top with Robert Scalisi and Goonhilly Down producing their second win of the season following a win in the Intermediate at Nunney earlier on in the Summer. Scalisi said,”Goonhilly Down is a seven year old by Ramexico owned by the Hayward family. He was aiming for a confidence run around the Novice as he is still young so to finish with a win was an added bonus. The ground was perfect and the course was very inviting with very happy and cheerful fence judges doing a great job on the ground landings and take offs on their fences.” Following less than two points behind was Georgie Strang and Chanel closely followed by Daisey Berkeley and Chanel, Berkeley said, “Ballinteskin Cooper is only a six year old and I rate him very highly. He doesn’t have a weak phase and is a pleasure to ride. Along with the other horse I rode at Gatcombe, Strike Smartly, I hope they will be the ones that get me competing at the highest level again.”

The CIC** saw fifty-nine riders complete after a third of the field failed to finish following retirement, elimination or withdrawal. With a very competitive list of names on the entry list it was Bill Levett and Lassban Diamond Lift who soared to victory with a 41.3 dressage score pulling them through even with 2.8 cross country time faults. Those time faults saw Chuffy Clarke and Winnetou M follow very closely, Clarke said, “I got Winnetou M just over a year ago from Sami Birch and I’ve spent this year really getting to know him and all his quirks. I did my first CIC** on him at Tatts and I lead the dressage and then unfortunately made a mistake at the last combination which came from a lack of experience from me. He’s my first big time horse and he’s taught me so much, being rather strong and spooky at times! I was last to go so had quite a late dressage. We had worked him hard in the run up to the event so he didn’t come out fresh and then he lacked impulsion a bit in the test but I was very pleased as there were no big mistakes. I watched a lot cross country and saw how hard it was looking but I set out very determined but not fast. He has a very big stride so covers the groung easily and doesn’t take much time to set up for the let up fences so I didn’t push on until the end. He then felt lovely and soft in the show jumping. He managed to lose a shoe cross country which was a worry for a moment as I’d just found out I had gone into second place, luckily we had plenty of time to get one put on!”

An unfortunate fall in the CIC* saw Willa Newton and Lauries Laudatio 2 out of the running, however Caja 20 produced the goods for Newton in the CIC** taking third. Newton said, “I am all fine from my fall off my other ride, highs and lows!! Caja 20 was great, I am so thrilled with her. She tried very hard in all three phases and she gave me a brilliant ride cross country. I thought it was a tough course with lots of different questions and the water always casues problems so I was pleased with how she coped with it all and make it feel easy. She is a lovely mare and she really deserved a good result here!” 

The Intermediate ran six sections with notable performances from Naomi Lawrence and So Quiet in Section C. Lawrence said, “The win was such a surprise as it was his first ever intermediate. After nearly selling him last year as we didn’t think he’d event, he’s proved us wrong this year, now winning two Novices and his first Intermediate. He still couldn’t do canter to walks two weeks ago but I’ve worked him so hard and a change of warm up routine brought out the best in him and he did an awesome test. After getting over the shock of the height change in the show jumping, he ballooned them all by miles! He was the same cross country and you would never have known it was his first Intermediate, he breezed around it like it was nothing. The amount of scope he has is scary. He’s aimed at young rider trials next year as I’m only eighteen so I’m very excited about him.” 

Andrew James was following closely behind with Loriens High and Mighty, commenting, “I had a great time at Gatcombe which makes the three days of driving worth it! Loriens High And Mighty produced a great test and still came second despite his two down in the show jumping. His owner, Angela Tucker, also has half of Movistar so she’s had an exciting few weeks and now has two Advanced horses as High And Mighty has now been upgraded. We had been working on Lapdancers show jumping with Nick Turner over the last few weeks which payed off with a clear show jumping and at only seven years old she’s now ready for the Championships at Osberton in a few weeks before she goes home to Guernsey for the Winter. This was Cavaliers Showdown’s second good run on the trot as he won the Intermediate at Keysoe two weeks ago. He has really blossomed this season and will head to SOE for the 2* next week.” 

Vittoria Panizzon added to her Head Girl’s success with a win in the Open Intermediate along side a second and two additional double clears over the Gatcombe weekend. Panizzon said, “I am delighted that four out of five horses ran a double clear! Bonne Amie cut her leg in the field this morning and will frustratingly miss her end of season three day event so it is a consolation she finished her season on a win for her owner, Lottie Wemyss. Supercillious has brought much joy and excitement to his syndicate owners all season with numeous wins, this great performance in his first international sets him up for the GB 6 Year Old Championships. It is so special to have known him since a foal! He was bred by my trainer, Sarah Bullen, who is part of the syndicate. He always tries so hard! My gorgeous Italian seven year old was fifteenth and double clear in his first CIC **. I just took it steady to qualify for Lion D’Angers World 7 Year Old Championships. Weronique also completed her first CIC ** and was double clear for twelfth, delighting her owners, Mr & Mrs Eldridge who were visiting from Cornwall. The Team Mate had a hiccup show jumping but was still pleasing with such good dressage and cross country in his second Intermediate.” 

Everyone at Eventing Worldwide would like to pass on their sincerest condolences to Daisy Coakley and her owner Mrs Felicity Norrie during what must be a very sad time.

Photography courtesy of Lucy Hall and Tim Wilkinson

CIC * Section A

1st Coral Keen & Cascadelle 45.5 D, 2 DEM

2nd Vittoria Panizzon & Super Cillious 47.9 D, Double Clear

3rd Steve Garrod & Ufonzo 49.7 D, Double Clear

Novice Section I 

1st Fiona Breach & Med Night Carnaval 26.8 D, Double Clear

2nd Sam Griffiths & Rovini 26 D, 4 SJ

3rd Emily Young Jamieson & Vihara Du Causse 31.8 D, 0.4 XCT

Novice Section J

1st Ali Al-Marri & Fernhill Friendly Touch 28.3 D, 2XCT

2nd Leonard Goerens & Brechfa Medrod 27.5 D, 3.2 XCT

3rd Vicky Tuffs & Its Cooley 29.8 D, 3.2 XCT

Novice Section K 

1st Lizzie Doolittle & Shop DJ 23.8 D, Double Clear

2nd Andrew Downes & Buckle End Bertie 27.3 D, Double Clear

3rd Rosie Thomas & The Masters Rebel 27.8 D, Double Clear

Novice Section L 

1st Alexander Bragg & Spypark Ferro XS 24 D, Double Clear

2nd Colina Pickles & Pebbly Ptarmigan 24.3 D, Double Clear

3rd Virginia Wells & Cassino Reeb 26 D, Double Clear

Novice Section M 

1st Selina Milnes & Cooley Tanglewood 24.5 D, Double Clear

2nd Chris Hall & Fresh 2 O Triple C 26.3 D, Double Clear

3rd Kevin McNab & Brookfield Quality 29 D, Double Clear

Open Novice Section N

1st Roberto Scalisi & Goonhilly Down 23.5 D, Double Clear

2nd Georgie Strang & Chanel 25 D, Double Clear

3rd Daisy Berkeley & Ballinteskin Cooper S 28.5 D, Double Clear

CIC ** Section B

1st Bill Levett & Lassban Diamond Lift 41.3 D, 2.8 XCT

2nd Chuffy Clarke & Winnetou M 45.3 D, Double Clear

3rd Willa Newton & Caja 20 44.5 D, 2 XCT

Intermediate Section C

1st Naomi Lawrence & So Quiet 28.2 D, 4 SJ, 4 XCT

2nd Andrew James & Loriens High And Mighty 24.1 D, 8 SJ, 5.2 XCT

3rd Jonty Evans & Alamo 24.3 D, 4 SJ, 13.2 XCT

Intermediate Section D

1st Robin Walker & Killossery Ardnehue 33 D, 2.4 XCT

2nd Andrew James & Cavaliers Showdown 33.9 D, 3.2 XCT

3rd Jonty Evans & Cuffesgrange ARS Royale 30.2 D, 8 XCT

Intermediate Section E 

1st Louise Bradley & Cooley King Cobra 28.2 D, 4.8 XCT

2nd Claire Moreton & Lichotas Optimism 30.2 D, 4.4 XCT

3rd Mark Ford & Hildare Amun Ra 30.5 D, 4 SJ, 0.8 XCT

Intermediate Section G 

1st Alexander Bragg & Duke of Axbridge 33.2 D, 4.8 XCT

2nd Andrew James & Lapdancer 34.1 D, 5.2 XCT

3rd George Coe & La Contadina 39.1 D, 4 SJ

Open Intermediate Section F 

1st Vittoria Panizzon & Bonne Amie 28.9 D, 3.2 XCT

2nd Ruy Fonseca & Tom Bombadill Too 29.6 D, 4 XCT

3rd Dan Jocelyn & Phoenix L 32.7 D, 2 XCT

Open Intermediate Section H 

1st Tom McEwen & Staff Des Champs 29.1, 2 XCT

2nd Dan Jocelyn & Beaucatcher 30.2 D, 2.4 XCT

3rd Louise Harwood & Jenga II 30.7 D, 4 XCT

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