Report by Rika Nile
Known for its spectacular setting and bold, up-to-height tracks, Withington Manor Horse Trials attracted over 500 entries over two days, including some of the the country’s top riders. Holding classes from Novice to Advanced, the popular event also provided a good test for the Pony, Junior and Young Rider trials that will help selectors to determine the British youth teams later in the year.
The Gloucestershire event marked a successful weekend for previous Pony and Junior team campaigner, Sam Ecroyd, who won both OIU21 section G and Advanced section O. Sam and Opera House’s 22.5 dressage score in the Young Rider trial on Saturday gave them a substantial lead going into the jumping phases after only two other tests made it into the 20’s – both performed by Chuffy Clarke with Willem III (27.9) and El Kazir SP (27.1).
A foot perfect double clear, adding just 2.4 time penalties gave [emember_protected custom_msg=’This content is only available to Members, to read more of this article please Join HERE or if you are a member please LOGIN‘]
the Sam the win, 12 penalties ahead of Emily King and Dargun. Emily, who also competed Del Piero II and Cooley Currency in the same class, jumped a double clear with Dargun, adding a just few time penalties to their 31.7 dressage score to finish on 36.9, whilst Anna Horton and Ardfield Express also jumped double clear to take 3rd.
On the Sunday, Sam rode Master Douglas to victory in Advanced section O finishing just 0.5 penalties ahead of Andrew Nicholson and Perfect Stranger. Producing the all important double clear, Sam and Master Douglas were the second quickest combination of the day across the three Advanced sections adding just 8 time penalties to their 34 dressage to take the section from Andrew, who was leading going into the cross country phase.
Including the 2nd place on Perfect Stranger, Andrew was in the ribbons on all four Advanced rides, including a win, and had two further placings in the Intermediate classes – giving him 6/7 top ten placings. Jet Set IV won Advance section N, the same section that Andrew was also 5th with Teseo, whilst Qwanza was 4th in Advanced section M, which was won by Paul Tapner and Yogi Bear VIII.
The OIU21 Junior trial was headed by Rosa Onslow and Limbo Kaiser, who was the only combination to jump a double clear inside the time in the section, which left them on their dressage score of 31.9. Richard Coney and Kananaskis were 2nd and Isabel White ride Damorka into 3rd – both combinations just adding a few time penalties to their dressage scores.
The Pony 1* caused a few problems in the show jumping after only three combinations jumped a clear in this phase, including the winner Saffron Cresswell and Cuffesgrange Little Ric who finished on their dressage score of 41.9. The dressage was led by Connie Warde-Aldam and double gold medalist Craig Mor Tom on an impressive 40.1, but a couple of rolled poles and some time in both jumping phases just pushed them out of the top 10. 2nd went to Sophie Barlow and Mohill Gypsy, the only other combination to finish on their dressage score, and finishing off the top three was Anya Kolleth with Laburnum Inner.
Laura Collett jumped 4/4 double clears, all with sub 30 dressage scores to have two wins and two top 4 placings. Laura and Pamero 4 have recovered well and are back on form after their fall in Fontainebleau earlier in the season, to win OI section D after adding just a few time penalties to their 21.4 dressage. Her second win of the weekend was with Oratorio II who finished on his dressage score of 25.5 in Open Novice section L. Last years 7-year-old champion Mr Bass was 2nd in OI section E with an impressive 20.2 dressage score, adding just a few time penalties to drop him below Dunbeau, ridden by Oliver Townend – who was also 3rd on ODT Ghareeb. Laura finished off her weekend with 4th in Novice section K on Sir Papillon.
The large Novice sections all had 40+ starters and dressage was key with a fair few double clears to contend with. John-Paul Sheffield and To Be Fair II took Novice section J; a section in which nine combinations in the top ten jumped double clear. They finished on their dressage mark of 23.5, ahead of Vicky Tuffs and Its Cooley and Gaby Cooke riding Cumlaude, who finished on 28 and 28.4 respectively.
Novice section K winners Izzy Taylor and SFS Legacy were only 0.2 penalties ahead of Kitty King and Virage Des Falaises, who both impressed dressage judges to produce sub 20 dressage scores and jumped double clears to finish on 19.3 and 19.5. 3rd place went to David Doel and Cracker Jack II who also finished on their dressage score of 22.5.
Section I was won by Emily Young-Jamieson and Dreamliner with 27.3 penalties, who was one of only two combinations to finish on their dressage score; the other combination was 10th placed Niall Fergusson and MX Calamity. Selina Milnes finished just behind Emily on 28.2 with LVS Movistar, just 0.7 penalties ahead of 3rd placed Roberto Scalisi and Samarkand (28.9).
The Intermediate sections also had plenty of entries although none of which managed the time – the fastest of the three sections was Amy Furness and Landmark Abacus who came home just one second over the optimum time to add 0.4 to their 42.3 dressage, finishing 5th in section C. Another fast rider was France’s Astier Nicolas and Finley IV who placed 2nd in section A, after only adding 1.2 time to his score. The winner of the section was Kitty King and Vendredi Biats, whose 26.6 dressage mark allowed them to role a pole and still take the win.
Intermediate section B was another section over the weekend that had a tricky show jumping phase, with only six combinations jumping clear. It was won by Neil Spratt and Director General, with Michael Winter riding Cooley Wonderland and Flora Labau with Twiggy Bougaux in 2nd and 3rd – all of which jumped a double clear. Intermediate section C saw a few more show jumping clears with nine of the top ten jumping double clear. The top spot was taken by Nick Gauntlett and Cosmic Order, closely followed by Rodney Powell in 2nd, with Grovine De Reve and Alan Nolan and Mini Diamond in 3rd.
Photographs courtesy of Phil J Photography