Success for Calmsden’s new summer fixture

Calmsden Horse Trials new summer fixture proved a great success and a popular addition to the British Eventing calendar.

Held at Ampney Down Farm, near Cirencester, the venue has hosted an autumn affiliated horse trials since 2010, but its popularity has seen the competition grow and new dates added. The event once again welcomed back EquiFeast as its title sponsor with Stratstone Land Rover Cheltenham as associate sponsor. Section sponsors included Black Moth Vodka, Jolly Nice, Cotswold Vets, Watership Property Ltd, McGills Accountants, The NFU and Chetwood Wealth Management.

For the first time Calmsden ran BE80 (T) sections, sponsored by Airowear. With three sections, more than 120 riders tackled the new course, assisted by BE80 Trainers Mandy Holloway and Hannah Fenech.

BE80(T) Section F was won by Gareth Denner riding D Haka – the horse’s first British Eventing competition. A dressage score of 23.3 and a double clear gave the combination a convincing victory.

It is a remarkable comeback for Haka who has had a number of setbacks since Gareth took the ride on the seven year old gelding. Gareth told Eventing Worldwide: “His weight dropped off over the winter so we thought we would leave him a bit longer before we went out eventing, and then he got kicked in the field and fractured his leg. I am a great believer in things happening for a reason – for us to come away with a win at Calmsden – his first event – was fate. He has a nice mix of breeding – his dam is a New Zealand thoroughbred and his sire is a show jumper. I’ve never been to Calmsden before, and people we spoke to said from previous events the course was up to height. I was worried about it but it was a fantastic course – nothing too complicated and plenty of room to push on and dare Haka. We’ll probably take him to West Wilts in September for the BE80 to keep his confidence going and then aim for BE90 and qualifying him for the Grassroots Regional Championships.”

D Haka’s owner Rebecca Hunt said it was very emotional watching the pair compete. She told Eventing Worldwide: “It was amazing seeing him go around. It’s been quite hard work getting him there. When he was a foal he had a nasty accident in the field and had to have a major operation – he’s lucky to be where he is. We’ve been told he has a lot of talent to move up the grades quite quickly. But we don’t want to push him to a higher level this year. At each competition we’ll see how he goes and he is very good at telling us if he is ready or not. Haka is such a sweet horse – he tries his heart out and I’m so pleased for him that he won.” 

BE90 sections were run over both days of the event with Richard Waygood picking up a brace of wins. He took victory in Section B on Billy Pebbles and Section C on Askari. Both horses produced double clear rounds to finish on their dressage scores of 19.5 and 27.0 respectively.

BE90 Open Section D was won by Lucy Hemmings on Ducal Damsels Quest – a horse she has only had for six weeks. They scored 28.8 in the dressage and kept a clean sheet in the show jumping and cross country.

Lucy said: “I was quite shocked when we won. I’d barely taken her cross country but she gave me an amazing ride. I hope to move her up the levels quite quickly, and have high expectations for her next year in the U18ON. She did however take us two hours to load the night before, and we stabled her locally to find her so wound up at 5am I couldn’t put a headcollar on her. But as soon as I got on her she was a different horse. The event had a lovely atmosphere and the course rode very well, it was inviting but also asked a couple of nice questions. The going was fantastic and the undulating terrain tested the horse’s fitness perfectly.”

Winner of BE90 Section M was Hannah Okines on Monbeg Nordico. It was the pairings second victory of the year following on from a win at Shelford Manor. The combination kept a clean sheet across country and in the show jumping to finish on their dressage score of 23.5.  Hannah has owned Monty for two years having bought the six year old from Monbeg Sport Horses.

She says: “I bought Monty unseen so it was a bit of a risk. But it has paid off as he one of the nicest horses I’ve had. We started affiliated eventing with him this year at 90 and he seems to have taken to it very well – we had a little blip at Stafford but hopefully we’re back on track thanks to Colina Pickles who is my trainer. My aim is to try and qualify him for the 90 Grassroots Championships at Badminton and maybe move up to BE100 next year. I thought the event was lovely – you need a fit horse as the XC is very undulating but it is a lovely course to ride around.”

The BE100 cross country track proved to be the most challenging, with numerous combinations gaining penalties at Fence 11 A & B – a cleverly placed combination making the most of the undulating ground. Fence 6 – a skinny log on a turn also caused a number of problems thanks to a well-placed sponsor’s banner which caught many horses eye at the last minute.

Cementing their consistency at BE100, the winner of Section I was Emma Shoesmith on Cassinar. The combination have not been out of the top three placings in competition this year and were winners at Chepstow in July.

Returning for the second year was the BE100 photo competition. The prize of an EquiFeast care package and a free print of a photo was on offer to the two combinations across Sunday’s BE100 sections that produced the best shape and style over the EquiFeast Tick at Fence 17. The winners will be announced in due course.

Other winners over the weekend were: BE80(T) Section E Katie Baldwin on Moelfryn Golden Wonder; BE80(T) Section G Loti Innes-Parry on Milly Molly Mandy VI; BE90 Section A Khia Cadney-Moon on Curraghgraigue Du Carel; BE90 Section N Katherine Campbell on Hansome Revel; BE90 Section O Fiona Moore on PSF Underdun; BE100 Section H Neil Spratt on Eluna; BE100 Section J Katie Hancock on Kilcandra Rambo Bay; BE100 Section L Mary King King Robert II; BE100 Open Section K Georgie Spence Friday Knight.

Organiser Jo Verey said of the event: “We were very pleased with how our first August event went – we’ve had some great feedback about the going. One competitor did her first BE80 – her first BE event- and told us “it’s definitely given me the bug”. Our first BE80 was very competitive and we had two full days and many on the waitlist especially for the BE100 on Sunday. We had several big name riders there bringing out their young horses including Mary King who said that the course was very educational as the terrain is quite undulating. Cassie Price, who is based at Calmsden was delighted with her result with her young horse Timmy Cruising who was 5th – his first BE outing.”

Calmsden will be hosting a second British Eventing competition on 10th and 11th October. Classes will include BE90, BE100, BE100 Open, Novice and Open Novice. Entries open 7 September 2015.

Report by Sarah Carless

Photographs Courtesy of TB Photographic

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