The event horses of the future were put through their paces in the Dubarry Young Event Horse Championship, with J-P Sheffield and Robyn Grey taking top honours.
Five Year Old Dubarry Young Event Horse Championship
For Certain, ridden by J-P Sheffield, was an assured winner of this year’s Burghley Young Event Horse five-year-old final. For Certain, one of four rides in the class for a busy J-P, had scored highly throughout the first three phases of the competition to go into the final top ten in second place.
A strong gallop then promoted him to the top of the leaderboard before this year’s newly introduced phase of ‘ride’, where Suitability and potential judge Ian Stark assessed the top four awarding a further possible eight marks. A large and intrigued crowd of spectators lined the ringside to see how he fared. He stayed in the saddle and all the horses went well for the former British Olympic rider.
“They were four really nice horses but he was the one that stood out for me,” said Ian.
For Certain, owned by J-P, was bred in Ireland and is by the showjumper Lux out of a Certus mare. He was originally bought out of Ireland and produced by Vere and Clea Phillips from who J-P acquired him.
“He is very straightforward, has all the attributes and hopefully is a long term ride for me,” said J-P.
Local rider Ros Canter, who is also busy in ring two today as well as taking part in the main four star competition, stood second with Isabel White’s striking bright chestnut Quite Something, 10th in the four year old final last year. A British bred Hanoverian by Quaterback out of a Scolari mare he was the highest placed British bred and despite being dressage bred was a high scorer in the jumping phase.
Irish rider Austin O’Connor, another taking part in the main event, got two through to the final 10, standing third with Kate Jarveys homebred, Six o’clock Somewhere, who is by The SHB GB graded Grafenstolz out of Decision Day by the thoroughbred Lafontaine and is a half sister to Austins Advanced ride Day by Day. Six o’clock Somewhere gained 10/10 for the gallop in the suitability and potential phase.
Judy Bradwells eighth placed elegant mare Grappa Nera, by Karandasj, and ridden by Alex Postolowsky, was the highest placed mare.
Four Year Old Dubarry Young Event Horse Championship
Just 0.2 of a mark separated the top two in a quality four year old final of the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse, but it was Trebor ridden by Robyn Gray that gained the edge to win the Dubarry Boot trophy as well as the Best British bred award.
Bred by event breeders Vin and Elizabeth Jones (Precispark) Trebor is by the German bred event stallion and former world young horse champion, Mighty Magic out of a mare by Fleetwater Opposition. He was acquired by the British based Dutch Olympic rider Andrew Heffernan in May just broken and is now owned by Gill and Peter Shea although the ride stays with Andrew. Robyn, who rides for Andrew, qualified the horse for the final to earn her ride at Burghley. The pair gained high jumping and conformation marks as well 7/8 for type.
“I hope he is my next four star horse,” said Andrew. “When I first looked at him I loved his balance and his model.”
Ros Canter’s busy afternoon paid off with a second and third and the highest placed mare award with second placed Shannondale Nadia, a lovely stamp of a mare by Shannondale Sarco. Ridden in the final section by Hannah Bate, Nadia, owned by Sharon Bayston, gained the highest jumping mark of the day and the highest mark for ride from Ian Stark.
Third placed Lordships Graffalo, owned by Michele Saul, was ridden by Ros. By the popular sire Grafenstolz he was bred by Writtle College under the tutelage of Penny Wallace and is out of Penny’s mare, Cornish Queen by Rock King and a half brother to Ros’s ride Pencos Crown Jewel.
Fourth placed Graffenacht, ridden by Tom Jackson, was also by Grafenstolz whilst Nick Gauntletts SHBGB Spring stallion grading champion Party Trick, by Chill Morning was fifth.
Ride judge Ian Stark complimented the top four. He said; “They were all beautifully produced and all gave me a lovely ride, they were balanced and obedient and it was fascinating to ride them and I was seriously impressed with these.”
For the first time in the 29-year history of the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse final, the top contenders were put through their paces by a riding judge, former event rider and course designer Ian Stark.
“It’s been a fascinating day for me,” said Ian. “I knew right from the beginning that what I was looking for was a horse that would put a smile on my face and two of the five-year-olds did and all four of the four-year-olds were just amazing. It bodes very well for the future of the sport. In fact, I think I’ll be sending my youngsters to these riders.”
Interestingly, Ian’s assessment had the desired effect of shuffling the final order in both line-ups.
“I watched the five-year-olds walk, trot and canter and picked out my favourite. But then when I rode them I swapped allegiance to another horse because it was light and bright and it gave me a very special ride.”
Ian saved his top mark of the day – eight out of a possible eight marks – for the eventual runner-up in the four-year-old final, Shannondale Nadia, ridden by Ros Canter.
“She was particularly light on her feet,” said Ian. “The four-year-olds all felt a little bit tired at the end of a long day, but interestingly the riders felt they perked up when they had a different rider on board as it was something new for them.
“It’s all about encouraging people to train their horses correctly right from the word go. We’re not looking for a clockwork mouse, we’re looking for something that’s got a bit of character, a bit of naughtiness and a bit of sparkle; something that’s got the lightness, movement and suppleness to go on.”
Of his new assignment this year, Ian concluded: “Maybe next year they’ll let me jump them as well! I was longing to do that, but everyone had a heart attack when I mentioned it!
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed riding these lovely horses, though, and feel very privileged to be here and be the first jockey to be given this important job.”