Amanda Rushby reports…

Kelsall Hill proved to be a fantastic venue choice for Northamptonshire based, Piggy French. On a fantastic run of results French won the Intermediate on Cooley Top Cat and took first, second and third in the Intermediate Open on Belco HRS, Quarrycrest Echo and Morswood, respectively. A statement on the rider’s website said,

“Piggy was at Brooksby Melton College on Saturday with the three 5yos (Ballycanu, Carsten Of Westoak and Templepatrick Cooley) in the BE100 and at Kelsall on Sunday with four rides (Belco HRS, Cooley Top Cat, Morswood and Quarrycrest Echo) in the Intermediate.
Seven horses competed and none were beaten by anyone other than a stablemate. Ballycanu, Carsten Of Westoak and Templepatrick Cooley landed Piggy a hat-trick of BE100 wins at Brooksby Melton College whilst Cooley Top Cat won the Intermediate at Kelsall and Belco HRS, Quarrycrest Echo and Morswood finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Open Intermediate. An outstanding weekend.”

Section E of the BE80 (T) Sponsored by Airowear saw Nikki Butterworth give a strong double clear performance to win the section, Butterworth said, “I was thrilled as it was our first BE event and only our second ever one day event. My mare was brilliant in all three phases; the dressage test was possibly our best ever, she really looked after me in the show jumping and was a pro on the cross country course. It was brilliant to be able to compete somewhere like Kelsall which I never thought I would be able to do on my little Welsh pony, let along win my section!”

Robert Gilsenan had a strong weekend with two seconds, firstly giving Nikki Butterworth a run for her money in the BE80 (T) and secondly in Section S of the BE90. Although Gilsenan provided the best dressage score in section E too fast time penalties meant his score slipped behind Butterworth. Gilsenan said, “I have been riding Landis Rocket Man since February for owners Bernadette and Claire Davis and this is his first season eventing. He won his last run at Bold Heath and lead the dressage at Kelsall but dropped to second after getting time penalties for going too fast cross country. Humamelody is my own ex racehorse who I have owned for two years but had last year off through injury. He also came second on his last run at Llanmynech. Both courses rode brilliantly and were testing enough for the end of the season and the ground was brilliant as always at Kelsall.”

University student Alex Herring followed closely behind Gilsenan with Midhope Diamond, saying, “I’m twenty years old and in my second year of university at Lancaster where I’m also Captain of our Equestrian Team. I keep Snoopy (Midhope Diamond) in Marton at Niki De Macedo’s yard and I’ve owned him for five years now, unfortunately we’ve spent the last four years essentially doing rehab for injuries. He’s had stifle surgery, has a muscle disease called Acute Rhabdomyolysis, Sacroiliac Disease and suffered various other ailments that have kept setting us back. We started doing BD with him in July to get him stronger and it seems to have done the trick and so we started eventing him late in July at Stafford. It was his first event in four years and he got a 39.5 double clear inside the time and came away with a fourth. It was a very emotional day, I came off the cross country and cried with happiness, it made the last four years entirely worthwhile! Kelsall was our third and final event of the season and he was foot perfect once again and we both had an absolute blast!”

Section F of the BE80 (T) saw close competition for the top spot with just one point between Bridget Lancashire and Feliciy White both completing on their dressage scores. Lancashire said, “I work at Woodnook Livery Stables near Huddersfield, just over three months ago I went to Ireland with my boss and trainer, Peter Mellor, to look at a couple of horses for customers. I bay horse caught my eye and I had to sit on him. I popped a fence and before I could stop myself I had purchased Brandy, a six year old ISH by Cara Touche. Brandy had hunted the previous season but he quickly took to the idea of eventing. Kelsall Hill was a fantastic day, everything seemed to go out way. We had a very consistent and accurate dressage test which gave us a pleasing score. After a lovely clear show jumping we were held on the cross country course as a loose horse had followed us and cut in front at fence seven. This didn’t distract Brandy who was eager to get on with the job!”

Although Daniel Titterton was leading the way after dressage one unlucky rolled pole dropped him to third. This did not dampen his spirits after top ten finishes on two of his rides, Titterton said, “The event, as always at Kelsall, was well run and presented impeccably for all three phases. The cross country was fair for the level with a couple of trickier questions you may expect for end of season. My horses did really good tests. Wild Design was a very close third on a 25 dressage and Larriston Red Bailey leading on a 26.3. Both had a pole down in the show jumping but solid clears in the cross country gave them a fourth and a third respectively. Wild Design has now finished his season and may try to qualify for the BD Regionals whereas Bailey goes to Weston Park and onto Norton Disney before a well-earned break. This was his first season competing at any level and so we are really pleased that he has placed all four outings so far given how green he is and is one for the future I’m sure.”

The BE90 saw combinations getting in their last runs before the end of the 2015 season with some strong scores meaning double clears were important for placings. The exception to this rule was Becky Hartley and HEJ Ariel who didn’t let this being only their second run of the season together stop them winning Section C of the BE90. Hartley said, “My ride, HEJ Ariel, who won her section on her great dressage mark of 25.8 was doing her second event with me. She came to me originally for schooling and I ended up buying her as we think she has got enough scope and talent to go up the grades.” Also finishing second in Section A on Handsome II Hartley further commented, “Handsome II is a horse I brought in the Spring with very little mileage and I’ve taken him slowly because he has a great future ahead of him! He’s very strong in all phases and, as his name suggests, he’s very good looking.”

Section Q of the BE90 also saw Helen Dunning continue with what has been a strong season on Tea In Marrakech with a 22.3 dressage giving them enough of a lead to mean their four show jumping penalties still allowed them to maintain their win. Lindsay Morton and Daldo followed behind with Morton saying, “I have only had Popeye (Daldo) a few months and he hadn’t done any eventing prior to that! He went fantastically at Kelsall and I think I have persuaded him that dressage is part of the package and he needs to get his dancing shoes on if he wants to jump! He was a show jumper and had a rather large objection to his dancing shoes when he came! I am thrilled with his final event and Kelsall is my favourite one of all, with many wins previously there. I won the Novice last year on my mare and the BE100 the year before that! Popeye is a very cheeky chap so I am thrilled he is containing his quirks now.”

With consistently strong dressage scores throughout the season Alexandra Cornwell and Under Wraps scored a 21.8 to give them a clear lead in Section T of the BE90 which gave them a clear win ahead of Matilda Wadeson and Knights Beau who achieved a 27.8 double clear. Wadeson said, “Kelsall is definitely my favourite event and is what inspired me to want to compete two years ago. I really liked the new design of the course and thought bits were quite testing so was thrilled that Beau gave me such a great round cross country. I couldn’t have done any of it without Tyler Cassells, my Instructor and Boss!”

Vicki Hancox is currently on a run of very strong results and Kelsall Hill saw a continuation of that with a win and second on two of her rides. Dunaire Duke of York showed the way in the BE100 Open and Thrift Linda May gave Michael Owen and Naughty Nala a run for their money in Section U of the BE100 finishing second. Hancox said, “I won the BE100 Open on Dunaire Duke of York owned by Mrs Beverley Joynes and Mr Scott Dew. He’s eight years old and I have been lucky enough to break him and produce him myself. He’s just become and open horse after coming fourth at Llanmynech Novice last month. He’s a pure bred Section D and has a heart of a lion and always tries his best. I’ve never ridden such a consistent horse! He won Blenheim 100 Dressage Championships last week and came third in the Eventer Challenge jumping a double clear. Thrift Linda May was second in the BE100 finishing on her dressage of 25. Owned and bred by Mrs Sheila Gibbs who loves to watch her! She will now move back up to Novice after a nice confident run. I love Kelsall Hill, it’s one of my favourites! It was my friend, Bonnie Fishburn’s, wedding too so I had a nice weekend away with a fabulous wedding, horses and eventing!”

Michael Owen was another rider to have two successful scores over the weekend and scored a very impressive 21 dressage in Section U of the BE100 and maintained a double clear to win easily on Naughty Nala, ahead of Vicki Hancox. Owen said, “The horse I won on was bred by the owner Katherine Loughe. It was the first competition together for us, although I’ve helped produce her over the last few years. This was her first BE100 and she did a lovely accurate test scoring the best mark in the section of 21. Jumping is her forte and she jumped a nice double clear. The horse I was third on (Thunder VI in Section P of Novice) was doing his second Novice having done Somerford last month. Normally ridden by his owner, Zoe Beresford, I’ve taken over to get him going around some Novices confidently before Zoe takes over the reins next season. He jumped a great double clear with just a handful of time penalties to finish in the prize money which always keeps the owners happy.”

Following very closely behind Owen was Mary Thelwell and Casta Diva. Thelwell said, “I was thrilled with my little mare, Casta Diva. She’s a young horse found for me by Andy Heffernan. I work full time for Andy and so he has provided me with invaluable help in producing her. This year she’s had some good placings and has qualified for the BE100 Mitsubishi Cup in 2016. Kelsall was a fabulous event with such a nice atmosphere and the Mark Phillips cross country was educational and fun to ride. I am hoping that after Badminton Cassie could have her first Novice outing. She’s bred by the popular Irish jumping stallion, ‘Ars Vivendi’. She’s now in the field at home having a well-deserved holiday.”

Finishing just 0.3 behind Vicki Hancox in the BE100 Open was Nick Furniss and Farbanby’s Dream, Furniss said, “Farnaby’s Dream is thirteen years old. He’s my first horse and I started riding nine years ago. Myself and partner, Vikki Cliffe, who came fifth in the same section, are trained by Anna Brown. This was by far my best dressage score so far this year. I had a lovely round show jumping and he took me into every fence cross country. It was a fabulous day, both the result and the weather, and it’s nice for an amateur to compete against professionals.”

The BE100 Under 18 class was won with a very strong score by Sophie Wilson and Lookout Lollypop, Wilson said, “Lookout Lollypop is such a good pony, she gave me a great feel cross country, as always! We’re both looking forward to representing Wales and Borders at Weston Park next week and hope our luck continues!”

Adding just 2 cross country time penalties to a 30.5 dressage score allowed Kitty Taylor and Noble Rebel to take the second place position, Taylor commented, “We had such a good time at Kelsall Hill! I was competing my grey 14.2hh gelding, Noble Rebel, who stormed his was into finishing second. I have owned Alfie for three years now and he is also a wonderful hunting pony throughout the winter. We have had a great season and he was an absolute star! Alfie felt incredible on the cross country course which was a very well built course and rode really nicely. Everything ran to time and the organisers did a fantastic job and what great weather we had! It was a lovely event to finish our first proper eventing season on and I couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable day. I really can’t wait for next year’s eventing with Noble Rebel who is currently on a break after a long yet incredible season!”

Holly Needham was well in need of some luck this season after an injury meant she has been out for much of the season. The young rider proved this hadn’t dampened her determination by taking third place in the BE100 Under 18 and Open Novice Under 18. Needham said, “I am thrilled with my two third placings as I have been off with a broken leg. I only came back to competition the week before. The horse in the BE100 class is a six year old that is going to Osberton this weekend with Rosie Thomas riding. The horse in the Open Novice Under 19 class is the very experienced, Strike A Pose. I only got him in April of this year and we are working on building our partnership. I had hoped to take him to Weston Park but unfortunately having been off for five weeks we haven’t managed to do our six Novices.”

Time proved to be tight over the Novice course with just four combinations making the time across the three sections. In Section P Danielle Meehan and Killy Puissance proved the competition was more than a dressage test moving up more than twenty places by gaining a double clear within the time. Meehan said, “Kelsall is one of my favourite events, the course was bold with a fair few questions. The fences were really well presented and I loved the new fences and alterations to the course! Lilly was a star around the track, jumped great and gave me such a good feel! I was chuffed to bits I was within the time. She is recently back from injury and only started the season in June this year so I was even more pleased with the second place. My goal for next season is to move up to Intermediate but to do a CCI * beforehand!”

In the Open Novice Under 18 Sara Evans saved her first BE win for Kelsall Hill. Competing on her own 17.1hh 10 year old mare by Franco the pair completed their best dressage score of the season and maintained a double clear to take the win. Closely behind was Heidi Coy who has also had a very strong season with runs at Badminton Grassroots Championships earlier on this year. Coy said, “We both really enjoyed Kelsall Hill, it was such a lovely event with every fence decorated so nicely! The dressage went really well scoring the best mark of the section of 25. In the show jumping she felt a little flatter than usual as she did come back from Ireland a little off colour, I think the long journey did it. However, she was a superstar in Ireland going as part of the rider development for BE where she did a fab double clear to finish fifth in a very hot CIC* section which was my first ever international! I came to Kelsall thinking it would be a nice run before Weston Park CIC* but it was actually one of the stiffest cross country courses I have ever done. She set out really positive until I lost my reins at fence four and had to turn to a B element without them! Luckily for me she looks for the flags and locked on, I think she was reading the numbers, and carried on to a do a foot perfect clear round! With her feeling a little off colour in the show jumping I didn’t push her too hard for time so gained four time penalties but because of her good dressage score and the course generally causing so may problems we had a very good place of second. Our best placing at Novice yet!”

The Intermediate and Open Intermediate was dominated by Piggy French, however in Section V Aimee Penny completed the only double clear within the time to take second place. Penny commented, “I thought it was a very twisty but well-built course. Hirondelle De Fribois B gave me a fantastic ride as she was looking for the next fence the whole way around and was a dream to ride. She was the only horse inside the time in the Intermediate!”
With just time penalties separating second and third Helen Waterhouse completed her competitive three rides of the weekend on Maesmawr Fox to finish third in the Intermediate. Waterhouse said, “I was thrilled with all three horses. Dragons Hill and Maesmawr Fox both seemed to love the going and the new direction of the course. Merlot, who was doing his first event, took to eventing like a natural. So overall a very successful Kelsall Hill event for me and my time!”

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