Report By Cassie James
Photographs courtesy of Hoofprints by HR
Arriving at the stunning Weston Park Horse Trials on Saturday morning saw many looking apprehensive about the weather ahead – but the ground looked fantastic, the park looked immaculate and the new changes on cross country had certainly got the riders looking positive. As the day progressed all involved were treated to a fair amount of sunshine. With many events being forced to cancel already this season, the line up at Weston looked busy and extremely competitive.
The dressage in the Novice saw some strong winds and rain early on, and a few spooky horses with some issues arising with the beautiful dressage flowers battling it out in the wind.
In Section A Local based Jay Kane and his horse Gortglas Tristan led for most of the day, but with show jumping being extremely influential in this section their unfortunate four fault round kept them out of the top placings to finish in 9th on 41.90. Elizabeth Abell aboard Glimavragh put forward three solid phases being the only combination to finish on a double clear inside of the time to take the win on 36.0. Closely behind was Vicco Pop ridden by Joern Warner who finished on 36.40 with Vicky Arnold and Davinci II finishing 3rd on 37.30 with a flowing cross country round.
Section B saw a win for Ellesmere based Oliver Townend who had several rides at Weston over the weekend. Ridire Dorcha certainly looked one to watch for the future with a stylish show jumping round and good cross country to finish on their dressage of 28.3. Oliver Townend commented ‘Ridire Dorcha, who is by Irish Stallion Limmerick, is a horse that I think a lot of, especially with this being only his third event and first Novice’ so certainly one to keep a look out for. Tyler Cassells and Doyouruby started off their start to season well with a 24.0 dressage adding 5.6 cross country time to finish in 2nd. Michael Owen and the handsome chestnut Mr K had an unfortunate pole show jumping but went clear cross country to finish in 3rd spot on 33.30.
Again in this section Oliver Townend looked in a strong position putting forward a 23.5 dressage score with Sonic De Sermentol. However an unfortunate 3 poles show jumping pushed them out of the top placings finishing on 9th. The section was won by Andrew Heffernan aboard the very bold looking mare Pewit Setimo picking up 1.2 cross country time to finish on 29.70. Bill Levett and Spezific One put in a consistent double clear finishing in second on 30.0. 3rd place went to Louise Harwood and V Max who despite a stylish 25.0 dressage added 4 show jumping and 5.2 cross country time to complete on 34.2
It was a win for Fred Powell and Suduko in the Open Novice adding 3.6 time penalties to their 32.0 dressage. Alice Sandberg riding Quidor VDV finished in 2nd picking up 6.8 time to add to their 30.5 dressage. Alice also finished 8th aboard Brown Lady (45.50). In third place was Lindsay Morton and Unique III Closely behind Quidor VDV finishing on 38.0.
Kananaskis ridden by Richard Coney lead from the dressage on 27.5 and although he picked up 4.0 time cross country, they held on to win the class. Alexandra Taylor and Little Vegas put in a foot perfect cross country to finish in second on their dressage of 33.0. In third place James Rushbrooke and Rowland had an unfortunate pole show jumping to add to their 33.0 dressage, but again looked fluent around the course.
In section E Howen Loganberry ridden by Minna Eadie kept his cool in the dressage to secure a 26.3 score and although they added 8.4 XCT it was enough to win the section. Only one rider completed cross country inside the time, Eloise Bartlett and Killacoran Blue who finished in 4th spot (42.0) Second place was Katy Webb aboard Gorfelyn Persian Emperor (38.5) and third, Mr Otto ridden by Phoebe Locke finishing on 40.10
Section F saw a win for Phoebe Nicholson with Llanstephan Brenin, the pair looked strong on the cross country to finish on their dressage of 32.0 It was cross country time that separated 2nd and 3rd place with Saffron Cresswell and Cuffesgrange Little Ric (32.1) just beating Connie Warde-Aldam and Tacco De Kezeg (33.30) to take 2nd and 3rd respectively after both posting 28.5 dressage scores. Phoebe Locke had another good placing, this time with Quay completing on 37.8 in 4th.
Star Attraction certainly lived up to his name, giving Tyler Cassells another good result for the weekend with a win in section N finishing on 42.4. 2nd place went to Charlotte Vincent and Gew-Tok-tokkie, who although put in a faultless jumping round added 10.8 cross country time to finish on 42.9. Tom Carr and Chelka Z took third place in this section on 46.0.
Sunday saw a cold start in the park as more spectators arrived to watch some of the country’s best riders with their pre Badminton run. Throughout the day the weather certainly proved testing with strong winds forcing many of the trade stands to abdomen the event.
Intermediate Section I
Mark Todd looked as graceful as ever on course to win Section I with NZB Ocean finishing on 29.4. It was a particularly good weekend for Laura Collett who took second place in this section with Cooley Again on 30.3 and winning section J with Mr Bass on 25.9. 3rd place in section I went to Jesse Campbell after leading on a 25.2 dressage had an unfortunate pole down show jumping, like other combinations bar one (Victoria Panizzon, Borough Free Flight 5th) they also added cross country time penalties to finish on 33.2.
Laura Collett commented ‘ I’m very Proud that I have produced all three horses (Mr Bass, Controe and Cooley Again) from this weekend from 4 year olds. Mr Bass was bought by Nick How and Keith Scott this year and he’s won every time out show jumping and eventing since they bought him. I am hoping they are lucky owners!’
The dressage of the day certainly went to Kitty King and Creevagh Cooley who started on a 18.9 score in Section J, but finished in second to Mr Bass (Laura Collett 25.9) after adding 10.8 cross country time. Another good result for Mark Todd finishing this section in 3rd spot with Landslide on 37.6.
In section H Kimberleys Crusader (Andrew Downes) and Samuel Thomas II (Oliver Townend) both put forward 35.7 dressage scores, but an unlucky pole show jumping left Oliver in second place behind Andrew. Izzy Taylor got her cross country spot on, being one of only two to be within the time. She finished 3rd aboard Briarlands Birdsong on 39.8.
Section M saw a win for William Fox-Pitt and the beautiful grey Luxury FH. He added 4 cross country time to his 26.1 dressage to finish on 30.1. Daisy Berkeley riding Strike Smartly looked on good form finishing in 2nd position on 32.3. Again another top placing for Oliver Townend, this time aboard another of his new rides this year Dromgurrihy Blue who added an unlucky 4 faults to their dressage of 29.6 to finish on 33.6 in 3rd.
The hotly contended OIu21 saw a win for Yasmin Ingham and the fabulous Imperial Cavalier finishing on 26.2. Emily King who had led from dressage (23.2) with Loxley finished in 2nd after having an unfortunate pole down show jumping. This combination look to be having a fantastic start to the season so far. Third place went to Francesca Sargent with Nankin (37.6).
After a day of wind, just as the advanced sections were due to start, down came the rain- but as usual at Weston Park competitors battled on. All combinations appeared to take the course steady with no one finishing within the time- many were clearly looking after their horses in their pre-badminton run.
In Section K Paul Tapner led from the dressage riding Prince Mayo and added 1.2 cross country time to finish 2nd (41.30) behind Andrew Nicholson’s lovely Nereo who added 8 time cross country to finish on 38.20. Paul Tapner also took 3rd spot this time aboard Indian Mill finishing on 44.30 picking up 4 faults in the show jumping and 12.4 time.
Section L saw a fantastic dressage from Oliver Townend on the great chestnut Armada who picked up a 23.8, however after an unfortunate 12 penalties in the show jumping Oliver withdrew Armada saving him for another day. This left the two places open to Andrew Nicholson, who was certainly having a good day at the office finishing 1st on Cillnabradden Evo (36.40) and 2nd with Ulises(41.80). In 3rd place Nicola Wilson had a slightly steadier but very stylishly ridden cross country round aboard One Two Many adding 16.4 cross country time to their dressage of 29.6 to finish on 46.0
It was an unfortunate end to the day for Andrew Hoy who unusually took a fall in the Advanced from Algebra II after what looked like a promising start cross country. Algebra II had other ideas and headed back to the lorry park to join his team mates forcing Andrew to retire.
Kelsall Hill based Michael Owen whose two advanced horses The Highland Prince and Bradeley Law (finishing 7th and 11th respectively) jumped double clears. Michael said ‘The ground was excellent with a new designed cross country course. All of the technical fences rode very well and it was a perfect course for pre-Badminton as it rode very forward’. He also said that ‘The new location of dressage, much closer to the lorry park also went down well with the riders’
Overall all of the riders seemed happy with the changes and going at Weston Park. Oliver Townend who took 9 horses from his yard in Ellesmere commented that it was a ‘very very good event, I really liked the new course and the ground rode very well’.
Organiser Janet Plant said ‘We are absolutely delighted with how the weekend ran. It was fantastic to see so many Badminton bound combinations competing in the park and the new layout seemed to be appreciated by all including the new cross country route. We’d like to thank everyone that took part and of course the volunteers and officials that once again helped the event to run so smoothly’