Report by Rika Nile
A difficult few weeks of weather made the preparation at the Blue Chip sponsored Solihull Horse Trials tricky, and it was touch and go at the beginning of the week as to whether it would run, but the joint organisers, Steve Scott and Ginny Townsend, and their team didn’t let
A good turnout of nearly 600 entries headed to the Solihull Riding Club venue for two days of competition. The event provided a great pre-run for many Mitsubishi Motors Cup competitors seeing four combinations winning their sections ahead of the championships in May.
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Ruth Orrell-Stokes is one Badminton bound competitor and took BE90 section C with her home bred, home produced mare, Traum De Memoir, known as Millie at home. This was Ruth and Millie’s only run this year ahead of Badminton, due to the weather causing cancellations to their previous events, but that didn’t prevent them from finishing on a foot perfect double clear.
Of the 8-year-old mare, Ruth said “We are not producers but wanted to produce our own horse. I have done all the work with her from backing to schooling. Unfortunately due to other circumstances I was unable to start competing her seriously until she was 6 but it has been amazing two years.
“Our last run of the season in 2015 was at Prestwold Hall in the BE90 Regional Final and despite the terrible weather we won and qualified for the championships. As you can imagine I am very happy with the win leading onto the champs; I am super excited, the support from family and friends has been fabulous.”
Ruth juggles being a full time equine lecturer at Derby College with eventing and took Millie to work the week leading up to Solihull to keep her fit, although she did add:
“Leading to Solihull I was feeling very unprepared and apprehensive, I had only been out competing once this year and that was dressage. However after such a positive run and despite Millie being a little green on the cross country, I rode forward and she was amazing bold for me.”
Harriet George and Cleodore, BE90 section A winners, will also be heading for Badminton. After jumping a double clear to leave them on their impressive dressage score of 20, the event was great preparation for Harriet and Sally Savage’s 8-year-old for the championships.
Harriet, who produced Cleodore as a 4-year-old before selling her to Sally, said that Sally has done all of the mare’s fitness work over the winter, before she returned to Harriet for the last minute schooling and preparation.
“I’m looking forward to Badminton. Cleo really enjoys the atmosphere and the crowds so it’s good fun and good experience for both of us.” Harriet commented.
BE90 section D winners Katherine Ann Smith and Holme Park Kudos finished the class over six marks ahead of their closest rival. The combination will also be competing in the Mitsubishi Motors Cup BE90 final alongside Ruth and Harriet.
Vicky Tuffs had a successful weekend, winning BE100 section N with Eden K who was contesting in her first British Eventing outing, and jumped a double clear to finish on their dressage score of 23.3. Vicky also picked up 3rd in BE100 section J and 5th in BE100 section L with Goldwin and CFS Cooley Pot of Gold respectively.
BE100 section J winner Emma Orde-Powlett and Westceffyl Prince are another combination heading to Badminton, this time in the BE100 final. They just pipped Clark Montgomery and Engapore into 2nd place; finishing 0.3 of a mark behind Emma, but then went on to win in Novice section O by over 10 marks on Wyoming Z.
Three BE80(T) sections ran on Saturday providing competition for many riders at their first BE event, including section G winner Amelia Day and Evert II who lead from start to finish on their dressage score of 27.8. BE80(T) section I went to Kate Kearns and Sportsman II, whose good dressage score gave them the win despite rolling a pole.
Marie Rippingale and Frankies Puzzle picked up their first BE win in BE80(T) section H, after jumping double clear in a section which saw a fair few problems in the show jumping phase. The 17-year-old gelding previously had a career in horseball, prior to Marie owning him which meant a lot of hard work between her and her trainer Shirley Morton.
Marie said: “The win was entirely unexpected and I’m absolutely delighted for both of us. It was especially nice to win a trophy for ‘best BE80 competitor’ for having the best score out of all 3 BE80 sections that day. I’m so glad that Frankies Puzzle is flying the flag for older horses that have changed career.”
Sam York and Oakring Dalliance finished on their dressage score of 25 in Novice section Q to mark their third win on the trot this season, whilst section P went to young rider Alice Hallows and Newferry Irish Mist, also winning their third event of the season.
Photography courtesy of Hannah Ray