EVENT REPORTS – Isleham kicks off the BE season

Event reports sponsored by Caunton Manor Stud 

Sarah Wells Gaston reports….

Isleham was the only survivor of the opening weekend of the British Eventing season. Despite the unfavourable weather conditions, just over 200 combinations made the most of the good ground preparation undertaken by the organisers.

Piggy March got her season off to a winning start and a slew of top results. She claimed victory in the Open Intermediate (Section J) – having won it 12 months previous – onboard Calling Card, with March also taking the runner up spot with Cooley Monsoon.

Her other victories came in BE90 Open Section C with Cooley Kan Do and BE100 Section D with Cooley Goodwood. In total March came away from Isleham with six top 10 results to her name. Of note, was her result with new ride Dardgun, owned by the Dargun Syndicate, with whom she picked up second place in the Open Novice. March was quick to praise the organisers for all of their hard work in keeping the event running following the wet weather saying there “can’t have been many places in the country which could have run a horse trials this weekend.”

Jo Hales and Dawn Chorus were the victors in BE90 Open Section K. A vet by day, Jo and Dawn Chorus were second at last year’s Mitsubishi Motors Cup. The pair are hoping to qualify again this year and will be aiming for the regional final at Swalcliffe.

Jo told Eventing Worldwide: “Having entered our local event at Aston Le Walls, we were very grateful to be accepted into Isleham for a run. The organisers had done a fantastic job – the going was amazing, especially considering the weather. It was great to start the season with a win, most importantly I was delighted with how she went after a break from eventing. I will keep up with my homework and hope for a qualifying score at Swalcliffe.”

But the first event of the year was not just about the winners. Many riders were blowing away the winter cobwebs as they prepared for the season ahead.

Carlie Lewis and Rollestone Checkmate are heading to Badminton for the BE100 Science Supplements Cup in May. They were fourth in BE90 Section A.

Carlie told Eventing Worldwide: “We had a great double clear after a feisty dressage. We train with Andrew James for our jumping so after a winter of BS it was nice to get a double clear. We were so thankful to the organisers and the volunteers who put so much effort in to allow people to run, so we could get our prep in. Yes, the weather was slightly windy first thing but the sun shone in the afternoon and the ground held up.”

Annalise Hyde Parker and Boolagh Gypsy Joe placed third in BE90 Section A, in her first BE competition. Annalise told Eventing Worldwide: “This was totally unexpected for us and we have only been competing together for just under a year. The winter has been difficult to say the least; trying to keep him and me fit, but I have never felt better about getting back out eventing. Isleham was a really pleasant experience for both of us, and well organised as well as many lovely people. I’m so excited to be doing BE this season and I cannot wait for more events to come.”

Luke Prior piloted eight-year-old Beatrix to second place in BE90 Section A. Bea came to Luke for schooling livery last year. He told Eventing Worldwide: “She is a very sharp mare but very loving and talented. We clicked and I fell in love with her. She was very green, and had only ever been thought of as a Dressage prospect. However, she has endless scope which just needs to be channeled. She came up for sale and I managed to set up a syndicate to buy her. Isleham was our first BE competition as a syndicate, and after a long winter of educating Bea we were very excited to see how she would take to Eventing. We were first to go, and with the weather against us, we weren’t hopeful. Bea was being a handful but we persevered. With a huge smile I finished the test and thought that didn’t feel too bad. We had the lowest score in the class and I managed to get a 10 for my free walk – I have never got a 10 before. Bea has never jumped in these conditions before and doesn’t usually like to get her hooves too wet. She didn’t feel confident in the warm up as she wasn’t sure of the ground. She jumped big in to fence 6 which didn’t leave us a lot of room for the second part and she just rolled the pole. On the cross country, as soon as we had popped over fence 1 Bea took control and we had the best ground as nobody had been round yet. It was a great start to the season, with her endless potential we plan on staying at BE90 for Great Witchingham, move up to BE100 for Little Downham and hopefully up to novice by the end of the season.”

Other results: BE90 Section B Kitty Marlow, Cassino Valeroyale; BE100 Section E Alfie Marshall, Prince Ted; BE100 Open Section F Anna Price, Blacko Jacko; Open Novice Section G Tom Jackson, Fire Fly; Novice Section H Holly Needham, Hendrix; Intermediate Section I Ben Way, Ringwood Madras.

Images courtesy of Stacey Smalley 

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