Flora Harris cemented her name in the European team GB selector’s minds by pulling off an impressive win on Bayano in the main class at Yorkshire’s Bramham Palace. The 27-year-old secured her career best result and showed off her nerves of steel as she show jumped from the front of the pack after world number one William Fox-Pitt on the final day.
Bayano showed true class on the first day of competition by scoring a field beating 36.8 in between the dressage boards. William Fox-Pitt and Fernhill Pimms were the nearest rivals with the only other sub-40 mark coming from Kitty King (Persimmon) and Pippa Funnell (Sandman 7) who shared third. In true Bramham style, the experts predicted stormy conditions for the CCI*** cross country day and Ian Stark’s course caused problems from the outset.
All eyes were on Flora as she left the start box. The course had already caught out Jock Paget’s Shady Grey who had been eliminated after filling fifth overnight, Paul Tapner’s Prince Mayo who was also eliminated and Nicola Wilson’s Bulana who had been retired. Flora’s nine-year-old gelding, owned by Caroline Harris and Rebecca Salt looked like he had put a blip at Tattersalls the previous weekend behind him to retain his overnight lead with no faults to add. Only 10 of the 50 cross country completions achieved this feat, including new combination Oliver Townend and Lanfranco, the horse that spectacularly ditched Andrew Hoy in the Colt Pond at Badminton this spring.
The pressure was on as Flora cantered into the arena after William’s ride Fernhill Pimms had kicked out two rails which dropped them to eventual fourth from second overnight. A faultless round secured victory for the Banbury-based rider.
“It’s just amazing to reach this first milestone in my career. We’re a young partnership so you never know what to expect. He was cheeky at Tattersalls last weekend so we rerouted him here and I’m pleased we did. We formulated a new plan to manage him differently here and it’s all paid off. I’m so lucky to have such an amazing team to help me as well, all of this is completely overwhelming really,” said an emotional Flora as she picked up the keys to her Equi-trek lorry which she will keep for a year.
“It’ll be so handy! I’ve just got a new lorry which I struggle getting in and out of the yard so this will be perfect for small trips. What an amazing prize – thanks Equi-trek,” said Flora.
Kitty King continued her purple patch by adding just two cross country time penalties to her dressage which secured her second place while third was taken by France’s exciting young rider Gwendolen Fer who piloted Romantic Love from seventh after dressage to finish in the bronze podium spot.
Yorkshire’s own crowned victorious
Year after year Yorkshire event riders have flocked to their local venue with the hope of seeing the home favourite scoop the trophy and 2015 was the year Nicola Wilson gave the crowd just that. The Yorkshire girl scored her first Bramham victory riding Mary and Barry Tweddle’s Annie Clover.
The pair were second after the dressage in the CIC*** but when first phase leaders Pippa Funnell and Billy The Biz notched up four cross country time penalties it was all for Nicola and Annie to play for. True to Nicola’s reputation as one of the world’s best cross country riders a foot perfect round earned the Northallerton-based rider her first trophy and £2000 prize money.
“To win here at Bramham is really a dream come true. It’s something I’ve struggled to do but it’s nice to finally do it for us all. It’s been a fantastic week and to have two horses finish on their dressage scores is really special,” said Nicola who also piloted Watermill Vision into fourth place.
Good sportingly Pippa joked on social media that evening that she thought it best to allow the home favourite the victory to stay popular in Yorkshire, so went a little slower than planned. Pippa finished in second with Caroline Powell securing third with Onwards and Upwards.
Holly heads u25 CCI***
Another Yorkshire girl scooped the top prize in the Bishop Burton u25 CCI*** Holly Woodhead impressed the judges in the first phase with her striking gelding DHI Lupison to wind up with a convincing 11 mark win over closest rivals Dani Evans and Smart Time.
This is Holly’s first win at a three day.
“Yesterday I admitted that I’d never felt so nervous but today I was surprisingly calmer for the show jumping. I was pleased with how he jumped and he felt like he wasn’t going to touch a single rail. I still can’t quite believe we have our first win and it will take a long while to sink in,” said Heidi.
It was a poignant win for the 21 year-old rider, who is now based in Wiltshire after being born and raised in Yorkshire, as she lost her grandfather the previous week.
“It’s my granddad’s funeral on Monday and I can go there with a smile on my face. He was certainly looking down on me today,” said Holly.
Dani Evans also piloted Raphael II into third place.
Report by Natalie Clark
XC Action Courtesy of Eventing Images
SJ Courtesy of Lucy Hall Photography