Report by Amanda Brown
Photographs Courtesy of Dave Murray
1st Hollie Booth & Dramatic 24.5 D, Double Clear
2nd Katie Vincent & Glen Carter 26.1 D, Double Clear
3rd Heidi Coy & Riversdale Magic Heart 27.3 D, Double Clear
1st Alexandra Farrar-Fry & Grey Finnsky 27.5 D, Double Clear
2nd Anna Tomlinson & Moreorless II 25.4 D, 4 SJ
3rd Cathrine Taylor & Lorelei 31.5 D, Double Clear
“My favourite moment was galloping along a strip beside Badminton House and looking up in awe at the exquisite house…”
So commented Eventing Worldwide’s Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Blogger, Megan Alecock. The journey to the Grassroots Championships is one that many amateurs across Britain hope and dream to make throughout the British Eventing season. It is a journey that makes all the hours of preparation, all the amazing highs and very deep lows that come with our sport incredibly worthwhile. If rosettes were made of anything at Badminton they would be pure blood, sweat and tears. Despite high winds and driving rain competitors’ and their supporters’ spirits alike could not be dampened with an overwhelming feeling of anticipation and excitement running throughout the two days of competition.
Hugh Thomas, Director of Badminton Horse Trials said, “The event is now really established, we had a good crowd and terrific sport, but for me it is the atmosphere amongst the competitors and their connections that makes the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships so very special. The smile on the faces of the top prize winners as they lined up in front of Badminton House in the evening said it all!”
Dressage day brought with it the true delights of the great English weather causing high spirits for even the most sensible of horses. This didn’t deter Hollie Booth, winner of the BE90 who pulled out the best dressage score of the section with a 24.5 on seven year old mare, Dramatic. High dressage scores are something of a norm for the duo who qualified at the Hutton in the Forest regional final in September 2014 with a fabulous dressage of 19.5. Booth went on to complete an outstanding double clear to breeze through the 87 strong competition.
Katie Vincent and Glen Carter were snapping closely at Booth’s heels with a 26.1 double clear leaving them just 1.6 points behind. Vincent said, “Glen Carter is owned by Miss Alexis Symes. She has owned him for three years and prior to this he lived in Badminton village with Georgina Preest and hunted with the Beaufort. In October 2014 Alexis travelled the world hence me having the ride on him. She returned two weeks ago to support us as she is most definitely one of his biggest fans! I am from a village called Corsley just outside of Longleat in Wiltshire. I ride and rear calves to sell as suckle cows for beef. I’ve ridden Barney (Glen Carter) for just over a year now and have had a fantastic time with him and had some great results at both BE90 and BE100, all of his results being top four placings. I’ve had help from Charmaine Keevil in West Knoyle for the dressage and she’s done an amazing job and helped me pick up lots of marks in my tests. Dressage is our weakest discipline, however we have worked hard at it all winter so I still felt fairly confident about my test at Badminton. Show jumping and cross country he is very bold so I felt very confident that he would just his socks off if I kept him on the correct lines. Alexis is now back from her travels so she has some plans for him this season to event, however I am sure this won’t be the end of Barney and I. I would really like to thank everyone for their support as the Symes family have put so much time and effort into getting Barney and I to Badminton Grassroots.”
Finishing third in the BE90 was no mean feat for Leicestershire based fifteen year old Heidi Coy who only recently finished 3rd at Solihull in the BE100. Coy said, “My pony Meg (Riversdale Magic Heart) is a 14hh Connie cross Thoroughbred and is 9 years old. I have had Meg for just over two years now and started BE in September 2013. We have completed eighteen events over the seasons and had fourteen top three placings in BE90 and BE100’s. When I brought Meg she had done dressage and show jumping but had never evented and neither had I! We also do Working Hunter Pony with her and she qualified for HOYS 2014 and was second in the Burghley 143cm Sports Pony Final. She has also qualified for the Royal International Horse Show this year in the 143cm Working Hunter Pony. We qualified Meg for Badminton at Milton Keynes where we finished second with a good dressage score of 27. This was my first attempt as well! Our preparation for Badminton hasn’t been the best as after winning the BE90 JAS final at Hartpury she came down with a cough and has only seemed to get rid of it a week ago. This has been very annoying meaning not being able to get her as fit as we want her to be but her Thoroughbred came out of her for the long gallop round.”
The BE90 class was incredibly tight throughout with Sarah Clack and Bold Rex narrowly missing out on 4th after accumulating some time faults on the cross country. Clack said, “The weather was absolutely awful. He (Bold Rex) did a very good dressage test…Show jumping he was fantastic, my Mum actually told me afterwards that before I was due to go in the fillers on some of the fences were blowing down. It was so windy but Rex jumped amazing clearing them by another foot or so. The cross country was a great course with a couple of questions asked and accuracy needed but nothing phased him. He jumped everything and we got back safe and sound. It was a shame about the few time faults we had as it dropped us from 4th to 16th…the main thing was that we got round safe. There was a lot of head wind on the last stretch. I am absolutely over the moon with him! It was a fantastic venue and feeling going around the grounds of Badminton and running alongside the 4*.”
Eventing Worldwide’s very own Grassroots Blogger, Megan Alecock had a fantastic debut at Badminton in the BE90 saying, “I thoroughly enjoyed my experience here at Badminton Grassroots. It’s most definitely not every day that at the age of fourteen you ride here and, of course, on a coloured cob! The atmosphere here changes with a click! On the first day of arrivals the atmosphere was lurking with curiosity. We met so many people in amongst the lorry park and within the stable block and they were all so lovely. However, on the Tuesday it was silent with the constant drag and howls of wind and as soon as the dressage had finished it was a totally different place! It was the same of the show jumping and cross country day. The BE90 course was a definite championship course; your horse/pony had to be paying 110% interest in all of your aids otherwise the course would be an upmost struggle. The jumps were only designed on that one line so if you didn’t just that line…you wouldn’t jump the jump! So the course was most definitely to height (and width) but with the technicality, you most definitely had to get to grips with it all! My ride was simply the most fascinating and it simply took my breath away…quite literally! My favourite moment was galloping along a strip beside Badminton House and looking up in awe at the exquisite house, just before I entered the lake. My time at Badminton was phenomenal and I am so happy to have finally completed my dream and to have ridden around the world famous Badminton!”
The BE1OO saw Anna Tomlinson and Moreorless II at the top of the leader board after day one with the show jumping and cross country to go. With a fabulous score of 25.4 there were only four other combinations on a sub thirty dressage score leaving them strong contenders to win. Unfortunately it was not to be for Tomlinson and the 15.2hh 10 year old gelding when a rogue pole in the show jumping dropped them down to second laying the ground open for Alexandra Farrar-Fry and Grey Finnsky to take and hold onto the lead to win. For Farrar-Fry this was not the first time she had appeared on the podium at Badminton Grassroots after winning the BE90 in 2011 with Diamond Trefoil. Closely behind Tomlinson, Cathrine Taylor and 12 year old mare Lorelei proved three was her lucky number after finishing third for the third time this season. The pair qualified at Bold Heath in August last year.
Tomlinson said on her second place, “I brought Duster (Moreorless II) two years ago and he was previously an endurance horse/happy hack. He had barely seen a fence until a few months before we bought him. He was sourced from my previous Instructor, Izzy Lawrence and we cannot thank her enough for sourcing him because we have clicked as a partnership and he is absolutely loving his eventing career! I am lucky enough to be trained by three instructors, Jane Critchley for dressage, Sue Snow for show jumping and Dani Cuomo for cross country. Dani is also a fully qualified McTimothy practitioner for horses which comes in very handy for Duster especially! I qualified for Badminton quite unexpectedly at Milton Keynes, so it was a great aim for 2015. After having a very successful year competing last year and winning at the BD Petplan Championships just 10 days ago, I didn’t come to Badminton with many expectations, so to come away with the best dressage, just one pole show jumping in torrential rain and a clear cross country inside the time was absolutely brilliant! The cross country course was a true championship course but I felt it was definitely within his capabilities and he cruised around. Overall I could not have been happier to come away with second! I am very proud to have been runner up to Alex Farrar-Fry, who’s Mother previously sources a pony for me when I was younger. Next on the agenda will be A Levels for me, I would like to thank Abbots Bromley School for supporting me in my equestrian career. Duster will get a few weeks of hacking and a few smaller events and Llanmynech Novice is the next event for him which is very exciting!”
Further down the leader board positions were tight in the 83 strong section with the weather proving detrimental around the full up 1.10m championship show jumping course. Chloe Arnold and Billy Hero finished on their dressage score of 36.4 to take a very respectable 8th place. Arnold said, “I was really pleased with our dressage considering the weather conditions which started as we trotted down the centre line. I was a bit nervous about the show jumping as it was the biggest Billy Hero had faced but he made it feel easy with a lovely clear after a not so good warm up. Cross country was amazing, he was very bold and straight locking on to all of his fences. We even made the time with a long route at fence 13b. I never would have thought we would have been in the top 10 placings, my huge thanks go to my trainer, Roberto Scalisi.”
Special prizes were also awarded by Shearwater Insurance Services for the two highest placed Event Horse Owners Association members who were present with the EHOA Silver Slaver. In the BE90 this award went to Katie Vincent riding Alexis Symes’ Glen Carter and in the BE100 Imogen Judd riding Stephanie Buchanan’s Urlingford Tom were presented with the prize. The Keep Kicking On trophy which is awarded to the highest placed rider over 40 years old in each class and was presented by Archant Dialogue to Roland Lloyd Thomas riding Boleybawn Bee and Louise Weir riding Lady Ballina.