The July 2015 running of the Purston horse trials was the first without Bill Allen and Peter Lamont at the helm following their untimely deaths this summer. Jill Lamont and Ann Allen did an amazing job to deliver the horse trials supported by their established teams but sadly it looks like Purston will see its final running this September.
With the English countryside baked over recent weeks and the highest July temperature on record, the team delivered a venue in the best condition it could possibly be. It looked splendid and as a result we saw very few withdrawals.
The dressage penalties provided little range across some of the sections; Section N for example, saw only 6.4 penalties between the first 19 competitors. In fact, only 4 competitors had over 30 penalties. In Section B ,13 competitors, approximately a third of the section, were awarded less than 20 penalties. William Fox-Pitt commented that the introduction of half marks has removed a lot of the differentiation.
Mike Benfield ‘s show jumping course sorted the men from the boys on both days. The event hosted a day of BE100 sections on Saturday and Novices/Novice regional finals and Intermediate Novices on the second day. None of the sections appear to have been a dressage competition with time over the country also being quite an important factor.
William Fox Pitt had made the 8 hour round trip with his three greys to contest the Novice regional finals. He was delighted with the performance of all three winning Section N with Reinstated and P with The Soapdodger. He also took second in Section N with Dynasty. William is saddened that Purston is to end, it used to be reasonably local to him and has fond memories. He was pleased when the NRF was rescheduled from Somerley as this fitted in with his other commitments. Next for Soapdodger and Reinstated is Barbury where they will contest their first 2*. William said he was happy for his owners that they had all qualified for Gatcombe as it is a big favorite of theirs.
Impressive on the cross country was Mark Todd’s Leonidas II having his first run since Badminton where he finished 4th. Leonidas is now heading for Barbury CIC3*.
Austin O’Connor had a good day but could have done without the excitement in his Novice regional final (Section N). Earlier in the day he had taken second in Novice Section M on Esperance finishing on his dressage penalties of 33.5, and 7th in an Intermediate Novice section with Beeswing. Austin was last to go cross country but was unfortunately held following the fall of a partnership just ahead of him (horse and rider were ok). He was initially awarded time penalties, which dropped him out of the qualifying results. However after a successful appeal these were removed and Austin took the last qualifying place by finishing 6th in Section N.
The latest news on any future running of Purston is that the September event will be the last.
Rest in peace Bill Allen and Peter Lamont.
Photographs courtesy of Dave Murray