Somerley Horse Trials organisers defied the odds (and the weather) to put on three days of competition from 01-03 April, kindly adding the Friday fixture after the loss of Gatcombe and Goring Heath. Despite some testing conditions at times all three days went ahead, thanks to some serious work on behalf of the ground crew in repositioning the showjumps and dressage arenas.
The CIC two-star feature class went to Mark Todd trained Franky Reid-Warrilow and little mare Dolley Whisper. This pair used the event as a tune-up for Belton three-star in a few weeks time, and despite her apprehensions about what the going might be like they led from start to finish with a classy double clear, and were the only combination to perform a below 40 (39.8) dressage test.
Franky said; “I’d pretty much convinced myself not to go because I thought it would be too wet and the ground would be bad but I got a text from Mark (Todd) at 7am saying the xc going is perfect get your arse down here!
“It was a good two star track, big enough with plenty of questions and turns and the water was especially difficult but she jumped beautifully and we hit every fence perfectly – it was the best cross country round of my life!
“I was really pleased with our test – it was the first time I’d gone sub 40 in an international competition. I’ve never been in the lead before after dressage, it was a peculiar feeling – nice but the pressure is on.
“The plan now is Belton, then Chatsworth and Saumur for our first three day three-star and if all goes well we will aim for Pau four–star. That’s the plan – anything that happens in between is a bonus but I’d love to be considered for the Europeans. Huge thanks to benefactors Steph and Bruce Gardiner who have paid to run Whisper since 2013 – they are great family friends and I literally wouldn’t be able to compete at this level as well as run the other horses without their support.”
The win was quite comfortable from second placed Daisy Berkeley and Ghareeb gelding Strike Smartly. Nobody made the time cross country, but Andrew Nicholson was typically fast adding just 3.6 time to a double clear, seeing Cillnabradden Evo climb the table to finish third.
Intermediate Section A honours went to Louisa Lockwood and Shannondale Quest after they went double clear, something only three others could match. Their 27.1 dressage and 9.6 time penalties were enough to win. Rosie Fry and Rubabell Cruise placed second with just time faults added to a 30 dressage, following up from their second place in the Novice at Aston last month. Katie Preston just held on to third place from Tina Cook, with the former adding a pole and a few time to a competitive 30.9 dressage aboard Templar Justice.
Vicky Brake put in a solid performance across the board with Last Flight II to top Intermediate section B – a fast double clear and a 28.6 first phase putting them well ahead. Second placed Little Britannia upgraded to Intermediate in style under Lucinda Fredericks with no jumping faults and a typically competitive dressage, with Tim Cheffings’ Donateur claiming third with a single pole the difference.
Wednesday saw Izzy Taylor winning Novice section E on Van Dyke II who has placed in the top three in each outing this season. His 31 dressage was a personal best for the horse, and a score they would finish on. Daisy Berkeley clocked up a handful of placings at Somerley and was marginally beaten in this section riding Ballinteskin Cooper S with their 4.8 time penalties costing the win. Harry Dzenis took third and fourth spots riding Eagles Ridge II and Cruise A Crosstown.
I was lucky enough to watch Pippa Funnell jumping in Novice Section F, riding the winning machine Billy Walk On who clocked up his third consecutive victory in as many outings this season. They matched their 24.3 dressage from Aldon, and their usual double clear meant they won their section even with some minor time penalties added. Abi Lucas picked up the second spot aboard Ultimate favour, 0.8 ahead of third placed Izzy Taylor and Bugbrooke.
Wednesday’s Open Intermediate Section C went to Ibby Macpherson and Ballingowan Echo – the only pair to finish without time faults in this section, which ultimately sealed the deal. EWW blogger Emily King was flying high again with her Aussie import Loxley who is a new ride for 2015. They finished second with a double clear, a few more time penalties the difference between her and Pippa Funnell’s Mirage D’elle in third.
Vicky Brake nailed OI section D riding Cooley’s First with no jumping faults, ahead of Pippa Funnell who earned another placing with Billy Landretti, four showjumping faults costing the win. Andrew Nicholson and Nereo were third with only time penalties added to a 33 dressage.
Louisa Lockwood collected three wins at Somerley in total, one courtesy of Downtown Billy in Novice Section P. They added nothing to a dressage of 33.5, ahead of Mille Dumas’ Penhill Touch of Class who lowered a pole. 21 year old Horslyx Ambassador Ashley Harrison was thrilled to score a 28.8 dressage with Zebedee IX – their first sub 30 eventing test. A nice few rounds jumping left them clear with just a few time to be added and enough for third place.
Novice section Q saw some serious front runners in the dressage arena and nobody made the time cross country. Millie Dumas rode MGH Regents Street to a 20.5 test, good enough to win on sub 30 despite having two showjumping poles. Second placed Giovanni Ugolotti’s 17h gelding also had no issue dancing in the mud earning a 19 dressage, but he gave Dacapo 277 had a steady cross country run incurring 15.6 time faults. Clean jumping from Regatta Girl meant a third place for Dan Jocelyn.
Young rider Ailsa Wates kept William Fox-Pitt from the top spot in Open Novice Section G when she guided Vermute Pera Manca home on their dressage score of 30.5. Fox-Pitt and Reinstated posted a 26.5 dressage test but added a few time penalties, just ahead of Ian Wills and Hartpury Sky Is The Limit in third.
The 100 sections were hotly contested, with Gordon Murphy’s new six year old Dream Master coming out on top in section J finishing on a dressage score of 29 in his first event. Gemma Tattersall hailed ‘serious progress’ from Tillingbourne who completed on 30, whilst Katy Jones’ Hallo Captain was just 1.5 behind them.
Section K saw Blickfeld secure back to wins since upgrading to BE100 at Aldon under Gubby Leech. A 23.8 dressage made them leaders from the word go and they didn’t put a foot wrong throughout to complete on the same score. Vittoria Panizzon’s Super Cillious gave a great account of himself for second place and double clear, from Kitty King and Darastud Cooley who debuted with 24.3 between the boards and a single fence showjumping.
Charlotte Wheeler’s House Red proved a winner in Section L on 26.5 from Ben Liles who rode Urlingford Tom for the first time. Both finished without any jumping penalties when clears were hard to come by. Third placed Anna Podger was just behind these two, owing to four showjumping faults with Regal Dancer III.
Sam Dempsey and Emperor Clover were the only pair to complete sub 30 in section M, and one of only two without any jumping penalties with some tough jumping conditions to contend with. Lymington Lad and Sarah Perry came third on 32, narrowly seeing off Nick Pearce and Jacorde; both combinations had a rail each.
A competitive BE100 Open Section N was won by Louisa Lockwood on new ride Pao Des Aucels, ahead of Gubby Leech and Copas who had his first run off the season as did Ballysteen Hero in third for Aileen Tizzard. The top eight combinations all went double clear.
Two 100 sections ran on the Friday – Section V earned Daisy Berkeley a win courtesy of a personal best from Midsummer Picnic, completing on a dressage score of 27.5. Sarah Orme took second place with Dreamscape Apperition, and Khia Cadney-Moon’s Diba placed third.
A small 100 Open (section W) was topped by Cat Kerruish and Courville BZ, who started competitively with a 23.8 dressage. This was enough to keep them top of the table despite the addition of four jumping and 1.2 time. Susannah Boddie and Corfu Z also had a rail in second place, but Albert Padfield and ‘A’ finished third with a double clear for 32.8.
Novice Section T was the Astier Nicolas show, who occupied first and second spots. Each of his rides notched up four showjumping faults, but Vinci De La Vigne posted the better dressage test to win from Alertamalib Or in second. Charlotte Agnew’s Charlie Harper had two rails, but a 28.5 dressage was enough to secure them third place. Only three managed a double clear in this section.
A very small Open Novice (Section U) was another win by Daisy Berkeley riding Shannondale Jasper- the only pair to post a double clear. They finished on 33.9, ahead of second placed Gubby Leech and Oakenhall True Star on 36.8, well clear of third placed Liane March and Frederick II.
Sarah Smith and Alize earned their second win of the season in as many runs, leading from the outset with a really nice 23 dressage. They won Intermediate Section R comfortably even after the addition of 10 time faults. Wiltshire based Ffion Thomas placed second with Justin Lucky Gold, just 0.10 separating this combination from third placed Dan Jocelyn and Dassett Cool Touch who are a new partnership for 2015. Again, nobody made the time.
Vittoria Panizzon and Borough Free Flight secured an emphatic victory in Open Intermediate Section S, a 23.4 dressage making them impossible to catch coupled with a quick double clear. Vittoria remarked that the horse was in his element in the mud, thanks to his hunting experience which meant he was well equipped to cope with the conditions. Astier Nicolas piloted Molokai to second place rounding off a successful day at the office, with Aaron Millar taking third on the little Leonardo VIII. All of the top three jumped without fault, but again in this section the time proved impossible to get.
A word from the organiser, Suzie Cotterill; “Delighted to have been able to run three days at Somerley Park International Horse Trials and help out so many extra competitors. The CIC and the two OI sections were filled with some of the best horses in the world. It was a delight to me and the whole team to see them really enjoying themselves on our old turf and over a good galloping track.
“After the sensational Spring weather on the Wednesday, the rain on the next two days made for more testing conditions. As always the horses coped easily and no riders had any worse outcomes than mud. The cross country team produced optimum going through sheer hard work and Pippa Funnell was seen to hug David Carpenter as she was so thrilled with their efforts! The lads in the lorry park and all the new people that rushed in to make sure day three happened on five days notice are unsung heroes. Lord Somerton’s beautiful park will recover in weeks ready for The NEW Somerley (2) on 27/28 June. The final word must go to Steve Adams, husband of Adele Schardt the co-organiser who died in 2013 and whom we all miss.”
Report By Nicki Strong (Headstrong Equestrian) reports from Somerley Park International Horse Trials. This column is supported by Horslyx, Aubiose Horse Bedding, Viovet, FMBs Therapy Systems and Helmet Ears.
PHOTOGRAPHY Courtesy of Tanzy Lee and Dave Murray
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