Sarah Carless reports…
British riders dominated the first day of the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing with Tom McEwen and Francis Whittington taking top honours.
Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship
Francis Whittington lead from start to finish to claim his second Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship.
Riding DHI Purple Rain, an eight year old owned by Beryl Chaplin, Belinda Drummond, Amy Drummond and Ro Audley, the British Rider scored 27.1 in the dressage and kept a clean sheet in the show jumping. A clear round with just six time faults gave him victory with a final score of 33.1.
Following his win, Whittington said he thought a lot of the horse and this had been their aim all season, commenting; “He’s sensitive and that means we have to be quite careful in the way we manage him. He’s not had the best showjumping record in the past but we’ve been doing a lot of gridwork, which has improved his technique and made him more aware of his body. I love the challenge of riding at The Festival; the courses are fun, but there is a lot to think about for a novice horse. I would be very surprised if anyone made the time this weekend. There is only so much you can push before you have to take.”
Two time Mitsubishi Motors Cup Winner Katie Hancock produced one of the fastest cross country rounds of the day – adding just 0.4 time faults – to finish in second with Coddstown Pet having been 20th after the show jumping. The pair were the runner-up’s last year in the TopSpec Challenge for the Corinthian Cup
David Doel, one of the more local riders, finished third with Galileo III.
Sam Horrell, CEO of Dodson & Horrell, commented: “Yet again the Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship provided a great showcase of the best up- and-coming event horses in the country. It is always exciting to see the next generation of horses in action and Francis Whittington and DHI Purple Rain were worthy winners. I look forward to watching their progress.”
Smith & Williamson Intermediate Championship
Tom McEwen slowly climbed the leaderboard to take his first championship win at the Festival of British Eventing.
Onboard CHF Cooliser, McEwan lay in third after the dressage, a clear in the show jumping promoted him to second and he took victory with one of the faster cross country rounds, collecting just 8.8 time faults for a final score of 36.9.
McEwan, who is based at Gatcombe, commented; “She’s got quite a bit of warmblood in her so I wasn’t sure how her stamina would be, but she tried her heart out and absolutely loved it,”
Alexander Bragg, who was recently added to the British long-list for the World Equestrian Games, also climbed the leaderboard from 11th to finish second with Shannondale Percy having recorded the fastest cross country round with 8.0 time faults. Australian Sam Griffiths finished third with Gurtera Cher.
Dressage leader Laura Schroter had three down in the show jumping with Willem Van Wup to drop her out of contention. Pippa Funnell had been leading going onto the final phase but took Maybach steadily around the cross country collecting 16.8 time faults.
The ROR/NTF Retrained Racehorse Event Championship is currently being headed by Andrew Downs and Golden Nugget. The eight-year-old gelding, owned by Jane Moss, has been eventing with Downes since 2015.
First staged in 2003, the RoR Eventing Championship is an Intermediate Novice Class, open to any grade of former GB raced thoroughbred. The top 10 competitors will show jump again tomorrow to compete for the £2,000 top prize.
World number one Oliver Townend has set himself up a crack at another championship title; he currently holds the lead after dressage in the the Magic Millions British Open CIC***, as well as the Advanced section.
Townsend, who already has ten Festival titles to his name, produced an outstanding dressage test on Sally-Anne Egginton’s Cillnabradden Evo to lead on a mark of 19 penalties. The pair, who won this coveted title in 2016, lead Australia’s Christopher Burton by 2.4 penalties. Oliver is also lying fourth on MHS King Joules
In the British Eventing Trophy for Advanced Horses, Townsend leads with his 2017 Burghley winner Ballaghmor Class by just 0.7 of a penalty from Australian Bill Levett on Improvise.
In the Top Spec Challenge for the Corinthian Cup, Jethro Thompson is set for a memorable day after taking the lead with a clear show jumping round on the Irish-bred Seapatrick Hint of Cruise.
Images courtesy of TB Photographic