Tweseldown (2) hosted three days of action from 23-25 May over the bank holiday. I was there to catch the BE90 and BE100 action throughout the weekend and it certainly wasn’t dull!
Saturday’s BE90 classes saw drama early on as several riders fell foul of the combination at fence 10, either jumping the ‘b’ element from the 100 course or having trouble with their own, struggling to make the turn after the full up brush at ‘A.’
Section A was won comprehensively by local rider Angela Sumner from Fleet, riding her own ‘Free As Air II’ – or Frankie as he’s known. They led from the outset with an impressive 21.3 dressage test, before completing a comfortable double clear with a xc round well inside the time.
Angela commented; “I’m over the moon. After coming back from travelling for two years I am pleased to have gotten Frankie and I back into the event scene well. We have a great support team behind us and I am lucky enough to have a fantastic sponsor, Jamie Wright, who gives me free training and guidance which has helped enormously. Frankie is a very talented horse although he does think there are monsters in the fences at times. Jamie has helped with a few confidence issues and helping me to deal with Frankie’s tension. Our aim is to qualify for the grassroots at Badminton next year.”
Henrietta Godfrey’s super consistent Cheque Mate III posted his third double clear of the season to finish on 25.3 in second, ahead of third placed Sarah Davy and Alexi on 26.5.
Lucinda Langhorne bagged a win in section B aboard ‘Howard,’ tied for points on 32.3 with second placed Sally Billing and Cornish Boy, who have won here in previous years. Claire Carr and Boarden Poppy completed the top three, just .2 behind the leaders.
Section C went to runaway winners Katharine Thorogood and My Newtown Clover, finishing well clear on their dressage score of 25.8. Sussex based Lisa Pilbeam was the runner up on 33.5, partnering Cavalier’s Molly Moot for their second placing in as many runs despite lowering a pole. Louise Evans and Dougal IV were good enough for third place double clear on 35. A special mention must go to Amelia Sykes, who achieved a 19 dressage in this section.
The top three in section D made it a dressage competition between themselves, all adding nothing to their scores from the first phase leaving placings unaltered. Dorset’s Dr Karen Baxter was the victor on 27 with Kahyasi Jack who earned his second win of the season. Naomi Thomas piloted George XII to second place on 29, ahead of Tomas Cousillas and Cundlegreen Darius.
Lisa Pilbeam continued her good day at the office to win section E on 28.3 riding Doucette Du Seigneur. They pipped Sara Horrell and Roman Eglenovich who matched his second place at Keysoe last time out. This horse accrued no less than four wins last season, and it was only four jumping faults which prevented him from being a winner this time. Jaide Hartridge completed the set in third aboard Donogue Steel Clover who just added 0.4 time penalties ensuring they still completed on a sub 30 score.
Bournemouth’s Megan Buston started Carnaval Chance off with a BE80 at Bovington last month coming second, and they went one better here in the gelding’s first BE90 to win section F on a very respectable 27.5. A point adrift was Sarah Travis and Laima, whilst Pippa Dixon posted the best dressage of her section, coming third with the addition of four showjumping faults on My Uptons Mayflower.
Section G – the 90 Open – was won by Team GB’s Gemma Tattersall with a possible star of the future – her homebred Chilli Morning offspring ‘Chillis Hero’ who made the perfect eventing debut. The chestnut gelding finished on his dressage score of 21.8. She also debuted her other homebred Chilli offspring Chilli Knight, who bagged ninth with a double clear and 34.3 dressage.
Gemma said; “They are both five this year and were embryo transfer babies – Chilli Knight is out of King’s Gem and Chillis Hero from a Cult Hero mare. I’m over the moon with them both – neither had seen dressage boards before and have only done one BS show jumping round British Novice so it was a whole new experience for them.
“They both just felt like they’d read a book cross country, they cantered round like they’d been doing it all their lives. They have great easy going attitudes, but also have a bit about them which is nice. I actually thought they did pretty much the same test – a bit green but nice and forward and one ended up with 34 and the other one ended up with a 21 so it was a bit random!”
Gemma is based at Tattleton Stud, owned by Chris and Lisa Stone –Chilli Morning’s owners. They have bred a number of Chilli Morning offspring from seven year olds to yearlings out of quality, very well bred event mares. This breeding programme will no doubt see Gemma with her hands very full and hopefully with some world class young horses coming up through the ranks in coming years.
Sunday’s BE100 action was a day for wardrobe malfunctions – Dan Jocelyn was reported to have a stirrup come off the saddle during his cross country round before re-attaching and carrying on, whilst Susanna Nodder called it a day when her bridle broke and she had to walk Cash Cooper back to the lorry park in a headcollar.
The 100 track was full up – a few testing combinations and lines, and some big and bold fences – the brush on fence 10’s ‘A’ was as tall on the outer edges as my 5’2” frame! Fence 11 was also reportedly influential with a number of stops being observed but overall it jumped well.
Section H’s winner was Salisbury’s Marion Watt riding Old Speckled Hen II who posted a huge PB to finish on her dressage score of 25. Marion said of her horse; “Old Speckled Hen II is homebred out of a mare I bought off the race track, evented to intermediate level and team chased round the national championships with ex jockey and event horse owner John Perry. Her great grandsire The Minstrel won the derby with Lester Piggott in 1977, and she is by ‘It’s Without Doubt’, who stood at Brendon Hill Stud.
“She finds dressage and showjumping easy but can be very spooky xc – mostly at fence judges and dog walkers… She’s done some hunting through the winter with Berks and Bucks Draghounds which has helped her to be braver. However she slipped on some ice and fell and wasn’t quite right afterwards. I’m a human and equine Bowen practitioner so several sessions later she is feeling much better again.
“The thing that challenged her most were the fence judges just to the left of fence 11 when we had to turn sharp right afterwards to get to fence 12. Luckily she’s very balanced so managed to fit an extra stride in on the corner to get us back on track.” Marion modestly concluded; “I was lucky to be in a section where 25 was good enough to be in the lead after dressage. There were a couple of sections where 19.5 was only good enough for second place!”
The very experienced Nici Wilson finished second riding October Farm’s Fine Fleur, who is yet to finish outside of the top 10. In third was Findon Flapjack and Christopher Baker. Only four combinations in this section encountered trouble across the country, but rounds without time penalties were less easy to come by.
A good day at the office for Gubby Leech kicked off with a win in section I, leading from the outset on Dungeon Hill’s 25.5 dressage. Young rider Miles Albert clocked up a great PB aboard Xaxaxa for second place on 32, 0.5 of a penalty ahead of Sam Griffiths’ chestnut mare Ardfield Zara.
Section J was a triumph for the Billy stud – LucyAnna Westaway won on 23.3 aboard Woodlands Winky by Billy Congo, whilst Olivia Craddock placed second on Billy Mexico offspring Billy Champagne. Kevin McNab incurred a few minor time penalties across the country to put him fractionally behind in third, riding Catch me 51.
A hugely competitive Open section K saw Lisa Maynard-Jackson complete a pretty perfect win; 17.3 dressage, double clear, and a cross country round bang on the optimum time. A very nice PB for IPW Silhouette. Coral Keen would likely consider Total Belief unlucky not to have won, completing an ‘immaculate’ double clear to finish on their 19.5 dressage mark. India Wishart picked up third on Collin II, on another impressive score of 22.5.
Tiana Coundray and new ride Cavalier Crystal bagged the honours in Section L with a nice 24.5 overall. They had their first outing together only this month, when earning a top ten placing at the Badminton BYEH class, and look a good combination for the future. Francesca Brough’s single time penalty for going too fast meant she had to settle for second with the speedy Freshman’s Minstrel. A 25.5 dressage and nothing to add was good enough for Sophie Jenman to collect third place with Ballycanu.
Section M saw a handful of sub 20 dressage tests, but it was Bryony Whittington who led after the first phase with 14! A nice one to have on the record. Jumping penalties saw her drop down to seventh overall, leaving Sophie Forbes out in front with Tricky Johnie who finished on 16. Gubby Leech secured second riding Blickfeld, a partnership who have already had a second placing and two wins in 2015. Their 19.8 overall was certainly a PB. Clare Lewis and Jacks Back completed the top three, double clear for 20.5.
Sunday’s action concluded with Open Section N, which was won by Southerly Roberts and Fizz IV – the only pair to complete sub 30. Kirsty McIntosh dropped Made By Design back to BE100 after two tricky Novice runs, and the decision paid off with a confidence giving double clear. They came second on their dressage of 31, ahead of Sam Griffith’s second chestnut mare Gertera Cher, who just added some time penalties to complete on 32.1.
Whilst unable to report from day three on Monday, one standout fairytale result came courtesy of a win for Sue Eggleton in the Open Intermediate, riding her 23 year old German WB x TB mare Nachtigall – yes that’s right, 23!
Sue from Dover, runs an international horse transport company called Equine Travel Agency Ltd which she set up ten years ago, and events outside of her work. Sue was given her wonder mare in 2011 when her friend Nicky Killon was moving to Cyprus. Sue explains; “She was bought as a broodmare, and given to me to hack but it soon became clear that she was capable of a lot more than we expected. She had never done any affiliated competitions before, and in her first year at BE100 she was the top 100 horse in the country.
“I hadn’t evented before either – I didn’t even understand the rules when we started, just sort of picked it up as we went along so we had no expectations. Since then we’ve come sixth at Badminton Grassroots, she was the SEEL top grassroots horse and best mare, and in 2013 and 14 we were the SEEL leading horse and rider. Now we’ve qualified for Gatcombe Intermediate Championships in August and we’re doing out first Advanced in a few weeks.”
Sue says her veteran mare gets better every year, saying; “We always start the season and think this has got to be the last year, we can’t keep going can we? But when I’ve upgraded it’s because I’ve had to – it has become not challenging enough for her. She owes me nothing but to have a result like yesterday, she’s proven that she’s successful and clearly well established at Intermediate and ready to move up. If at any point she struggled – had a pole, struggled with the time, or anything I’d stop – but she’s not stiff, no swelling, she’s bright and perky and loving it. She flew at Tweseldown – my aim was to go out and win. I knew our dressage was good and the showjumping had caused mayhem with only six clears from 60 horses; we just had a very unlucky pole, so I knew we were in with a chance. It’s the fastest we’ve ever gone, I went out to win it threw caution to the wind and just went for it.”
“It’s a great confidence boost to go that fast and have her jump so well. She’s the most intelligent horse I’ve ever met, very very genuine and bold and moves beautifully – but she’s also very sensitive which suits me. We just hit it off; the most common comment we get from judges is ‘lovely partnership’ – we get it all the time. She’s been life changing, I started eventing with her at 39 and it’s given me a whole new lease of life.
“We did breed a filly from her by embryo transfer by Grafenstolz and she’s been graded Elite, and was the best filly at BE yearling finals at Osberton. She’s three now, the plan is to keep and compete her. She’s absolutely beautiful, she’s amazing.”
Sue concludes: “It’s hard work running a business working full time five days a week and being on call 24/7 – you’re never off duty even on holiday. So all the horse stuff has to take place outside of that – to compete at this level takes a lot of effort and thought and training so the results are what you do it for, it makes it really worthwhile. It’s the amateurs dream, and I want other people to know you can do it, that the age of both horse and rider is no barrier.”
Report by Nicki Strong (Headstrong Equestrian) – kindly supported by Aubiose Horse Bedding, Horslyx, Viovet, FMBs Therapy Systems and Helmet Ears.
Photogrpahs Courtesy of Dave Murray