Report By Sophie Rothbarth
Photos Courtesy of the fantastic Dave Murray who photographed every combination at Swalcliffe over the 2 days.
Swalcliffe certainly set the standard for other events this season with both jumping phases as well as the cross country time playing a part in encouraging the best to come to the top. Time was influential across all classes and the good use of the undulating terrain causing showjumps to fall without the course being trappy.
Top honours in BE90 section A went to Iona Johnstone and Utopia I who finished on 24 penalties after they lowered a show-jump following their enviable dressage of just 20 penalties. Danielle Frost and Comache Spirit finished in second after adding nothing to their dressage score of 26 with Jane Langdon and Henry’s Choice completing the top 3.
Section B went to Carolyn Chapman on Da Rico who completed on their dressage score of 33.5, just 0.3 penalties ahead of second placed Elisabeth Hale on Baron Hendricks. Sonia Humphrey and Quitus de Louan completed on 34.8 to finish in third place.
India Ryder and Right Approach II found themselves victorious in section C after their dressage score of 21.3 allowed them a pole in hand over second placed Jessica Moody and Bestofboth. Colina pickles and Cendora completed the top 3 after some costly time penalties across country.
Section D, the BE90 Open section sponsored by Ariat, went to Julia Fairbank on Shannondale Sonoma. “ I bought Sonny as an unbroken 3 year old from the Shannondale Stud in Ireland in August 2013… there was just something about him which made you go “wow”! I couldn’t have wished for the day to go any better and I never expected this”. Indeed, it was Sonny’s first BE event and he will now be aimed at the 5 year old classes later in the season. They posted an impressive score of 22.5 which left them ahead of second placed Aoife Clark and Jensen III. Third place went to Hayley Clare on Anti Gravity who finished just over the 30-penalty barrier on 30.5
Sheldon Bosley sponsored BE100 section E went to Corinna Leadbeater aboard Third Time who finished on their dressage score of 24.5. Corinna has owned Third Time for three years and is now preparing for the Badminton Grassroots championships this season. The combination have previously been team and individual BE100U18 champions so are understandably excited for the upcoming Grassroots finals. Toby Pigott and Elise V were left regretting their time penalties after it left them demoted to second place. The top 3 of this section were all within 0.5 penalties from the dressage with time penalties on the cross-country being the deciding factor. Third placed Sam Dempsey and Emperor Clover stopped the clock three seconds over the time after adding no jumping penalties to their dressage score of 24.5.
The BE100 course rode well and encouraged accurate riding through the clever use of skinny fences and turning lines. Fences 14 and 15, a hay wagon followed by two strides to an angled brush caused the most problems but largely rode well with the option to circle between the two being appreciated by those on younger horses.
BE 100 Taylor Made Forage section F was won by Ed Eltham on Don Onyx who posted the very competitive dressage score of 22. They shot round the cross-country inside the time to take the top spot ahead of Louise Bradley on Breezes Ramiro. Thomas Bird and Tara VII took the third place rosette after adding 1.2 penalties across country.
Section G was sponsored by Leslie Sutcliffe and was won by Tim Rusbridge and Strategic Alliance who completed on their dressage score of 28. Matt Heath and Lockroy finished just half a penalty behind with Helen Slattery and Abu Darius finishing in third place.
Section H, the first BE100 Open section, went to Ginny Howe on Corinthian Clover who added nothing to their dressage score of 25.5. Corinthian Clover, owned by Claire Armfield, has only been at Ginny’s yard since the middle of February and has already posted encouraging results for the beginning of the season after finishing 4th at the unaffiliated Novice at Aston Le Walls. Following his win at Swalcliffe Corinthian Clover is now being aimed at a CCI*. “The Taylors put a lot of effort in to the presentation of the course and it rode very well. It was nice to have the cross-country time play an influence on the final scores”, Ginny commented. “It really was a lovely event, not just because I had such a good weekend but the volunteers and all the behind-the-scene people were so friendly and accommodating”. Second place went to Samantha Rose on Erinnerung U Van Het Juxschot with Kathryn Harris and B Tambourine Man taking third place.
Section I, sponsored by Equine Planning Solutions, went to Posy De Walden on Dancing Silver who completed inside the 30-penalty barrier on 29.8. Just 0.2 penalty points behind was Anna Tomlinson and Moreorless II with Eve Hobbs and Fivale Indian Art completing the top 3.
Top honours in BE100 section J went to Ella Wheeler and working hunter pony Pebbly House Martyn who finished on 31.5 penalties, over four penalties ahead of second place. They qualified for HOYS and RIHS last year and hope to replicate their form this year. “This was my first event of the year and I was so happy to win! He was foot perfect all day and the course was one of the nicest courses I have ridden round and the ground was perfect. He may be small (15hh) but he rides like a proper horse which is what is so nice about him”. Second place was taken by Vittorian Panizzon and Super Cillious with Sarah Smith and Saffron VIII finishing in third position.
Laura Avery and Liams Clover find themselves Badminton Bound following victory in the BE 100RF section after finishing six penalties ahead of second placed Clare Bosley and Tremeer. Laura Avery also runs her own business so despite the lack of ideal preparation was thrilled to take the top spot. “After all his injuries and lay-offs I tend to be too relaxed as planning always leads to disaster with him! I school mostly in a field on the farm which helps on grass arenas as he’s used to balancing whatever the ground” commented Laura, “I was worried about some of the combinations on the cross-country course as they seemed to be causing a few problems but I rode my lines as planned and they rode really well”. Second place went to Clare Bosley and Tremmer with Lucy Roberts and Amarulla III completing the top three.
The second BE100 Open section went to Katie Horgan and Jumbo’s Jet who finished on their dressage of 28.5 Naomi Lawrence and So Quiet were just one penalty behind with Dickon Reader and Bravanjo finishing in third place.
The BE80 (T) were popular once again with Katie Baldwin and Moelfryn Golden Wonder taking the top spot in Airowear sponsored section M. Debbie Mason and Annagh Bob took second spot with Sarah Lambert-Gibbs and Pennfield Pirate finishing in third place.
In the final section of the day, BE80 section N, to honours went to Ellie Chilvers and Springhills Charisma Bay. Susan Stodart and Elegant Pharly took second place just ahead of Sue Portch and Newz Flash in third.
Top Tips for Swalcliffe Park
Regardless of how many layers you think you will need, make sure you pack two more. Competitors in the Saturday found themselves in their own Artic-micro climate.
All three phases are on undulating ground, taking the time to school on unlevel surfaces will reap the benefits, particularly for the showjumping.
The event is great for spectators: “It’s a bit like a festival isn’t it?” commented one completely un-horsey newcomer. The cross-country course is also great for spectators with the majority being able to be seen from one spot.
It is certainly one of the friendliest events on the circuit and is ideal for first timers. There is also a handy pizza stall for pre-prizegiving munchies.