Sarah Carless …
The British Eventing Kent & Masters Arena Eventing Championships came to an exciting climax in the prestigious surroundings of the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.
Laura Durkan, riding the seven-year-old mare Livvy, claimed the BE100 title after producing a double clear and finishing closest to the optimum time, stopping the clock at 122.07 seconds. The 34-year-old from West Sussex won a saddle of her choice from title sponsor Kent & Masters.
Laura commented: “It was nerve wracking at the end because I thought I’d won and then I was told there was still one more to go We’ve had this horse for just shy of two years and have had a really difficult last year with her, so for her to come here and cope with the atmosphere has been amazing and winning is the icing on the cake – I’m really, really chuffed.”
Laura is looking to step up to Novice before the end of the season with Livvy: “Arena Eventing is absolutely perfect because it switches her on and gets her focussed and listening to me. It’s absolutely amazing [to ride at Blenheim] and very inspiring, I desperately want to bring her back here for the eight and nine year olds – that would be the dream!”
Fourteen-year-old Ella Bubb and Stirred Not Shaken took second place with a clear jumping round in a time of 121.44 seconds and Camilla Hardie was third on Beau Jangles, clear in 120.33 seconds.
Henrietta Witts set an early target in the BE90 Championship that couldn’t be matched. Sixth to go on the pint sized bay mare Pontesford Sarah Maria, she set the standard with a clear in 113.6 seconds.
“It feels surreal,” admitted the Worcestershire-based rider. “There’s no way to tell how quickly or slowly you’re going so I just went for a clear round and kept my fingers crossed! I’ve never been here before – it’s a lovely setting and course.”
The win was particularly pleasing because both horse and rider have had to overcome problems. The mare has been diagnosed with lymphoma and Henrietta has fibromyalgia which causes pain in her joints.
“We do JAS (BE Jumping and Style) and show jumping, but we haven’t done any eventing. This has given me a taster of it but I am a bit windy with the solid fences so I’d have to stick to the really small cross country. I’ll probably go for the Kent & Masters jumping saddle and try out some cross country over the autumn.”
Lucy Fews, 19, and Mixxy were second, clear in 110.7 seconds, with 15-year-old Victoria Robbins taking third place with a clear in 110.3 on Silver Skywalker.