Withington Manor Horse Trials. 2nd and 3rd May – Cheltenham

Report by Janice Hawes

Driving through heavy rain on Sunday morning I certainly was not looking forward to walking the advanced course at Withington in the rain. Then, as I left Oxford the rain stopped and the day just kept improving. I arrived at the event and was met at the junction of two lanes that run through the event by a parking steward. This was Sunday afternoon and I was expecting the usual questions and request for payment but no. The question was simple, are you a member? Yes, Members car park first left, oh and here’s a course map. What a pleasant and refreshing difference. The course map was well received. An A4 full colour glossy printed sheet included all the courses with artist impressions of the fences. Hats off to the orgainsers of Withington, their accommodating approach and genius idea to provide course maps. It certainly saved me shelling out £10 on a programme!

Withington run from Novice to Advanced sections including Open Intermediate under 21 sections. Section G (OIu21) was won by Daniel Anderson with Cloud Atlas who put in their best performance this year to win on 35.4 after adding a handful of time penalties to their dressage of 29.8.

Just 0.2 penalties behind Daniel came the first of Emily King’s 4 rides. Emily had a day to remember taking 2nd to 5th on her four rides with just 5.1 penalties between the 4 horses. Walitze F Vejgard had an expensive 4 in the show jumping to lose the top spot. Brookleigh was third, its good to see they have both recovered their form after a crashing fall during the Junior European Championships last August. Loxley was 4th finishing on their dressage penalties, one of very few to finish without adding cross country time penalties and 5th was Charlemagne finishing on 40.7 penalties. All of Emily’s rides were double clear with the exception of Walitze F Vejgard. Next stop for Emily is Aston le Walls then Chatsworth for the CIC.

Section F (OIu21) delivered a win for Sam Acroyd with Wodan III, a new ride this year for Sam adding 4 in the show jumping to their impressive dressage of just 25. Sam if heading to Floors with three entered in the CIC2*. Sofia Sjoborg with the hugely consistent DHI Mighty Dwight finished on 34.6 to take second. DHI Mighty Dwight has finished three events this year and has not been outside the top three on each occasion. Third went to Taggy Forester-Bennett with another fantastically consistent horse Bonza Moorabinda. This partnership have had an exceptional 2015 so far after winning the ONu18 at Aldon in March and a 3rd at Eldon before coming to Withington.

The GB riders just back from the Rolex Kentucky 4* had some good runs. William Fox-Pitt took two minor placing’s in the Advanced sections with Fernhill Pims and Luxury FH while Nicola Wilson retired Ngong Hills after show jumping but took a minor placing in the advanced on Bulana. Austin O’Connor (Ireland) faired well on Kilpatrick Knight taking 2nd in an Advanced section and 5th with Day By Day 5th in the OI.

Of the multiple riders Andrew Nicolson had an impressive weekend. Riding the maximum of 10 horses he completed with 8 in the top 8. He took top spot in one of the Advanced sections with Jet Set IV after adding a handful of time faults to the dressage penalties to finish on 31.6.

Oliver Townend had 5 rides in the advanced sections. Not a happy weekend for team Townend with Skyhills Cavalier being eliminated in the show jumping (compulsory retirement), ODT Ghareeb being eliminated on the cross country course after three refusals and Armada being withdrawn after adding 9 show jump penalties to their dressage of 30.7. Cooley SRS was the only horse placed for Oliver finishing 4th but not before rolling a pole show jumping and adding 4 time penalties to their dressage of 28.

As ever Vittoria Panizzon competed her well prepared string of 5 horses. Super Cillious and One Night Love and were 1st and 2nd in Novice sections. Fleeting Meeting 4th in an Open Novice section. Chequers Play The Game finished 4th in the Intermediate. Borough Free Flight won the Open Intermediate finishing with just 32 penalties after adding 4 for a pole in the show jumping and 1.2 time from the cross country to their dressage of 26.8. I am sure Vittoria would have been delighted with their performances.

Well done to the team at Withington. The cross country courses were beautiful built and use the terrain to full effect. On the Sunday the event appeared to be well supported by local people enjoying our sport and supporting the trade stands, the local burgers and cake have quite a reputation.

Looking forward to a return visit in 2016

Photography Courtesy of Lucy Hall

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