Marking its tenth year and final British Eventing competition, Stafford Horse Trials saw record entries for the final three days of competition which were to be the last to be held on the beautiful Staffordshire parkland. At the final volunteers briefing on Sunday morning tributes were paid to Organiser, Amy Dixon, who after ten years of being Organiser has stepped down from her position leaving the whole event with a very nostalgic feeling to it for volunteers and competitors alike. On Stafford Horse Trials’ Facebook page Amy Dixon commented, “What a marvellous weekend you have all given me. I’ve had a great time. Best event yet? By a long stretch I think. I’m really sad it’s our last one and even more sad we couldn’t get an agreement for the team to continue…I think it’s really important to remember who’s made the event what it is, and it’s you, the amazing team and riders…”

The event’s results showed that it was much more than a dressage competition with scores reflecting problems in the show jumping and cross country. Particularly influential was the water element on Tim Bennett’s cross country course which saw numerous combinations become unstuck. Fit horses were required to tackle the natural undulations of the course with some testing twists and turns to show which grassroots horses were capable of moving up a level before the end of the season.

In the BE80 (T) sponsored by Airowear Jeni Ball and Midsomer Clover made an outstanding comeback to take the win in Section A ahead of Jill Wanless and Abbeygate Jewel. Ball commented, “Midsomer Clover retired from competition at Stafford last year as I had a couple of uncharacteristic stops and I brought my youngster into work. My youngster did Stafford and Eden this year but then went lame and had to have stifle surgery. When I heard it was to be the last Stafford I was distraught as Stafford has played a major part in our eventing lives for the past ten years. This made me decide that Tilly (Midsomer Clover) could come out of retirement and we would do the 80! We love Stafford as it is so well run and the course is just so lovely and flowing with a few questions but very encouraging for the young horses and for when you want to move up a level…Tilly was awesome cross country and just took the fences on and felt amazing. She makes me feel like I can fly when we ride around a well put together course like today. I shall go to bed smiling now!”

Just 0.5 of a dressage score behind Ball was Jill Wanless, who said, “I thought the whole of Stafford ran extremely well and was very well organised. For an inexperienced horse the course was very well designed to ask a few questions without being over complicated. The show jumping was set out very well but I had to watch the time. I had a thrilling time and I am very proud of my mare Abbey (Abbeygate Jewel) which was only her fourth time out. It is so good to be back eventing after having over ten years off it. I have to admit it would be very hard to do without the support of friends and family and my very kind sponsor of Jay Brothers of The Green Dragon.”

Section B of the BE80 (T) saw much higher dressage scores with double clears only seen by the top six placings and a winning dressage score of 37.3 being produced by Faye Kellett and Hendrewen Calon Lan, proving just how much Stafford is more than just a dressage competition. The top six scores were also incredibly close with three dressage scores of 37.8. Faye Kellett commented, “What a great day we had. Great venue and great course! Extremely well maintained land and a shame it is Stafford’s last event. My boy did well today as it is only his fourth event and managed to pull a first out of the bag! A big smile on my face!”

Despite producing a 28.5 dressage score in Section B a stop on the cross country meant that Daniel Titterton and Larristown Red Bailey were out of the placings. The same fate wasn’t to behold the rider in Section C where Daniel Titterton rode Wild Design to a win. Titterton said, “This was Oscar’s first competition after a mishap when getting his foot stuck in a show jump filler at Shelford earlier this season resulted in him flipping over backwards and completely losing his confidence over a pole. He wouldn’t be the most natural of show jumpers, probably from being an ex-racehorse, he jumps very flat but today everything went right for him and he gave me a great ride in all three phases. Stafford is my local event being twenty minutes away and always one I try to support over its ten years of running and it will be sorely missed.”

In Section C of the BE80 (T) Sarah Jones and Bolt II produced the best dressage score of the section with a 27.3. Unfortunately it was not to be for Jones after a pole tipped in the show jumping allowing Georgia Varro and Orielton Audition to slip ahead and win the section on a 28.8 dressage score. Varro said, “I was very pleased with Orielton Audition’s (Ollie) overall performance, getting a 28.8 and a double clear. It is a shame it is the last Stafford BE because I really enjoy them and I am sure many other people do.”

The BE90 saw notable performances produced by Becky Hartley and Litchfield Foxtrot who had come third only two weeks previously at other local event, Eland Lodge. Hartley said, “This was Litchfield Foxtrot’s third event of his career and belongs to Mrs Jane Phillips who lives locally and is one of my loyal owners. He is a six year old Irish Sports Horse with lovely accurate paces and a very trainable brain. It was great to have a win today at the last running of Stafford event, which has always been a favourite of mine as it is a lovely course for young horses, which is what I specialise in. Hats off to Amy Dixon (Organiser) and all her team for the last ten years at Stafford Horse Trials doing a fabulous job!”

Rachel Hanlon has had notable success this year with Bounce Once who she partnered to the BE100 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Grassroots Championships earlier this year. In Section T of the BE90 Hanlon gave Sliabhawn Admiral his BE debut showing the six year old gelding by Cougar the way forward. Hanlon said, “Admiral (Sliabhawn Admiral) belongs to Jennie Raymond…I think the news of his win brightened her day as she is laid up with a broken ankle. I was the last to go in the dressage and I thought I hadn’t given myself enough time to warm up but we pulled a 26.5 out of the bag! Then he jumped a super double clear” It was his first BE competition, however he did win a few weeks ago at Solihull unaffiliated and the week before that won his dressage at Vale View. Rachel Burr has helped me a lot with his show jumping, as too has Steven James. He is another lovely Irish horse from Trevor MacGuigan. I will enter him for a BE100 next.”

Ben McClumpha’s ride on Charestown Warrior started off well producing one of few sub thirty dressage scores in Section L of the BE100. One tipped pole in the show jumping saw McClumpha and the nine year old gelding by Loughhoe Guy slip to second behind Sophie Brise and Dalcotes Zastava. McClumpha said, “It was a good result for his (Charestown Warrior’s) first BE competition. His owner, Di Ralph, is a MFH and also owns race horses and hunts him. He came in to me a couple of months ago to do a bit over the summer. Stafford was his third ever event after Berriewood Pony Club and the 90 at Sapey Unaffiliated, proving very consistent finishing second in all three! His rail down unfortunately cost him the win today as he led the dressage and with being such a good hunter, has really taken to the cross country with a clear inside the time. Stafford, as always, is a lovely event to attend and they had made every effort to make the going as good as possible.”

With the British Eventing Young Horse Championships at Osberton now just over two months away more partnerships were attempting to qualify in the Five Year Old class sponsored by KBIS, Section N. For Lucy Kemplay and Roc Solid qualification was imminent after producing the best dressage score of the section with a 22.8 followed by a double clear. Kemplay said, “Roc Solid was bought as a just broken three year old from Mark Kyle by my owner, Lizzie Burrows. He qualified for Burghley and Osberton as a four year old so it’s lovely that he has done it again as a five year old as he also qualified for Burghley at Carlton.”

2015 sees a big year for Cheshire based Tyler Cassells who will be part of Team GB’s campaign at Helvoirt in the Netherlands next month for the CIC**. Cassells brought three of his less experienced rides to Stafford with success in the BE100 Section M for Sand Storm II. Cassells said, “I am absolutely thrilled with Sand Storm II. He has been such a big baby and it is starting to feel like it is all coming together as with his 17hh plus he has a lot of body to coordinate. Apart from a cheeky moment in the dressage he jumped a lovely double clear for me. He stormed the cross country twenty seconds inside the time. He is powered on Baileys and we owe a lot to Caroline Dickens and the Baileys Team for helping him to fill out and fill his bog body. We have taken him very steady and are looking forward to his progress as he is such a loving home bred character. I am constantly sending owners pictures of him asleep as we regularly have to muck out around him and take him up while he rests!”

In Section O of the BE100 Nicola Johnson and Red Quest II produced the best dressage score of the event with a 17.8. Unfortunately an error in the show jumping added eight faults to their score allowing Bert Bolton and Prince Ramiro to take the lead. Bolton commented, “Prince Ramiro was amazing in all three phases and I’m over the moon with the progress he is making. I’m also very pleased for his owners, The Fleming James Syndicate, as this was his first win! I haven’t been to Stafford for a few years, but it was very well run and I had an excellent day!”

Section P of the BE100 saw a very strong section with the likes of Polly Stockton and Oliver Townend having multiple rides. Not to be put off Caroline Basnett and Queens Toxica produced a strong 21 dressage adding just 1 cross country too fast time penalty to their score to win the section. Basnett said, “I run a business called Brookfield Sport Horses, importing and producing young event horses and selling horses. Queens Toxica (Phoebe) was sent to me to sell last Wednesday and her owners asked me to run her while she is with me to keep her record up. I sat on her for the first time on Friday. She was produced in Sweden originally as a show jumper and her owner is going away to boarding school, hence she is now for sale. She has taken Darcey, her owner, on from her 14hh pony to jumping 1.20m tracks and introducing her to eventing. She’s only 15hh but very bold and careful cross country, she wants to win and is a really competitive pony. She had plenty left in the tank when she crossed the line and for such a small horse was under the optimum time for one penalty. Dressage appears to be easy to her and she knew the test backwards! I was warming up and running through the test and she pretty much pre-empted every move! If I had the money I’d buy her myself, whoever buys this pony will be incredibly lucky and she’s certainly one to watch!”

Following just 1.3 points behind Basnett was Lucy Robinson and Gingerbread IV, Robinson commented, “Stafford Horse Trials is one of my local events. I began riding Gingerbread IV at the start of the season for Mrs Alex Clarke and did Stafford as my first event in March coming third in the BE90. He has now moved up to BE100 and I was thrilled with his 23.3 dressage and double clear this weekend. Stafford is always a well-run event with great stewards and fence judges and a super cross country course which in turn attracts some well-known names to the competition.”

Fresh from a win with Christoff just days earlier at Upton House, Sam Ecroyd was delighted with another win in Section S of the BE100 Plus, “Christoff is a six year old gelding by German dressage stallion, Christ. He has won at his past two outings. I love riding around on him as he moves like a dressage horse so you always feel very posh! I love Stafford and always have. The people and organisers have always been so friendly and I am devastated that it will no longer be running as has always been a great event for the young horses! The course rode very well and Christoff was great in all phases from start to finish. I’m very excited about his future and he is one that I am definitely keeping my eye on! I cannot thank all organisers, officials and volunteers enough for all their help and it is an event that will be truly missed.”

With the BE100 Plus allowing the more experienced combinations to test the water before moving up to Novice Robyn Gray and Wishes In The Sky showed they were prepared following closely behind Sam Ecroyd, Gray said, “Oscar (Wishes In The Sky) is owned by Vicki Irlam and I have the privilege to ride her homebred horse. He’s a six year old and this was his first step up from BE100 before he takes on a Novice. He gave me a lovely accurate test to lie third after dressage which is his most consistent phase. He made the show jumping feel easy after Ewart Woolley encouraged me to go up a gear in the practice to produce his best jumping round to date. He felt up for the cross country and set out the start box positively so I encouraged him along in his stride as the water was causing some difficulty early on in the course but he popped through it lovely and made the rest feel easy.”

Report by Amanda Brown

Photographs Courtesy of Hoofprints Photography


BE80 (T) Sponsored by Airowear Section A
1st Jeni Ball & Midsomer Clover 24 D, 4 SJ
2nd Jill Helen Wanless & Abbeygate Jewel 24.5 D, 4 SJ
3rd Aimee Hulme & My Best Bet 28.5 D, Double Clear

BE80 (T) Sponsored by Airowear Section B
1st Faye Kellett & Hendrewen Calon Lan 37.3 D, Double Clear
2nd Phillipa Walker & Sliabh Kinvara 37.5 D, Double Clear
3rd Elaine Pott & Woodfield Champion 37.8 D, Double Clear

BE80 (T) Sponsored by Airowear Section C
1st Daniel Titterton & Wild Design 31.8 D, Double Clear
2nd Lucas Poole & Miss Trolly Dolly 31.8 D, Double Clear
3rd Katy Attenborough & Butterlands Spotlight 37.8 D, 1 SJT

BE80 (T) Sponsored by Airowear Section D
1st Georgia Varro & Orielton Audition 28.8 D, Double Clear
2nd Sarah Jones & Bolt II 27.3 D, 4 SJ
3rd Lucas Poole & Sannanvalley Mimic 31.5 D, 1 XCT TF

4 Year Old Sponsored by KBIS Section K
1st Gary Foggon & Gypsy Squire 24.5 D, 4 SJ
2nd Noah Brook & G Star 28.5 D, Double Clear
3rd Ben Way & Direct Contender 28.8 D, Double Clear

BE90 Section E
1st Laura Hanson & Bonnie Release The Stars 26.5 D, Double Clear
2nd Anya Kolleth & Dundrum Lady 28.5 D, Double Clear
3rd Lauren Hayton & Annaghmore Chip Amie 32.8 D, Double Clear

BE90 Section F
1st Sean Mitchell & Baloubet Balou 23 D, Double Clear
2nd Heather Fletcher & Our Man Flynn 26.5 D, Double Clear
3rd Wayne Garrick & Well Hello There 28.3 D, Double Clear

BE90 Section G
1st Becky Hartley & Litchfield Foxtrot 27.3 D, Double Clear
2nd Yvonne Watson & Masters Coevers 27.5 D, Double Clear
3rd Harriet Emma Thompson & Four Ashes Belgravia 30.3 D, Double Clear

BE90 Section H
1st Erika Gedvilas & Statham Aachen 30.3 D, Double Clear
2nd Lucas Poole & Mischief Machine 30.5 D, Double Clear
3rd Katie Corteen & Forgeland Tiger Tot 31.8 D, Double Clear

BE90 Section I
1st Abbie Coulson & Verdiconte 28.3 D, Double Clear
2nd Jane Armstrong & Bramcotes Lucky 7 30 D, 4 SJ
3rd Beccy Amos & Strong Beau 33.3 D, 1.2 XCT

BE90 Section T
1st Rachel Hanlon & Sliabhawn Admiral 26.5 D, Double Clear
2nd Sarah Warner & Silver II 28 D, Double Clear
3rd Stephanie Sacks & Springleaze Hope And Glory 29.5 D, Double Clear

BE90 Open Section J
1st Loretta Joynson & PSH Uranium 28 D, Double Clear
2nd Claudia Horsley & Diamond Spectical 23 D, Double Clear
3rd Molly Brown & Kissemmie Playboy 25.8 D, 0.4 XCT

Five Year Old Sponsored by KBIS Section N
1st Lucy Kemplay & Roc Solid 22.8 D, Double Clear
2nd Emilie Chandler & Fly The Flag II 23.3 D, Double Clear
3rd Rosie Thomas & Fly the Flag 26 D, Double Clear

BE100 Section L
1st Sophie Brise & Dalcotes Zastava 30.3 D, Double Clear
2nd Ben McClumpha & Charestown Warrior 27.3 D, 4 SJ
3rd Tracey Crane & Henry The Hunter 33.5 D, Double Clear

BE100 Section M
1st Wendy McGarry & Hugo Hunting 29.3 D, Double Clear
2nd Tyler Cassells & Sand Storm II 30.5 D, Double Clear
3rd Rebecca Sowerby & Mountcharles Oisin 30.8 D, Double Clear

BE100 Section O
1st Bert Bolton & Prince Ramiro 24 D, Double Clear
2nd Nicola Johnson & Red Quest II 17.8 D, 4 SJ, 4 SJT
3rd Aimee Penny & Gradington Graffiti 25 D, 4 SJ

BE100 Section P
1st Caroline Basnett & Queens Toxica 21 D, 1 XCT TF
2nd Lucy Robinson & Gingerbread IV 23.3 D, Double Clear
3rd Oliver Townend & Damaskus Van De Kapel 24 D, Double Clear

BE100 Open Section Q
1st Samantha Rose & Erinnerung U Van Het Juxschot 25.5 D, 4 SJ
2nd Vikki Cliffe & The Demonstrator 31.5 D, Double Clear
3rd Rachel White & V Max 29.8 D, 2.8 XCT

BE100 Plus Section R
1st Andrew Heffernan & Shopaholic 34 D, Double Clear
2nd Alex Hill & Coloured Boy IH 35.3 D, Double Clear
3rd Jodie Watts & Lickeen Lakeview Milo 36.3 D, Double Clear

BE100 Plus Section S
1st Sam Ecroyd & Christoff 27.8 D, Double Clear
2nd Robyn Gray & Wishes In The Sky 28.8 D, Double Clear
3rd Megan Gibson & Warris 30 D, Double Clear

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