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Blair Castle: Chris Burton Takes Event Rider Masters Top Prize

Your 2018 Event Rider Masters series podium: Tim Price, Chris Burton and Laura Collett. Photo by Anna Franklin/Event Rider Masters.

If there’s one thing we learned from the 2015 European Championships, it’s that when it rains at Blair, it pours. And it doesn’t just pour in any normal capacity; it thoroughly tips it down, as though a bevy of angry bekilted men in the sky have decided it’s high time we revived the Ice Bucket Challenge.

But what’s eventing without an unplanned and almost Biblical change in the weather? Showjumping, that’s what. Boring. A sudden deluge allows you the chance to analyse the course, and those who will tackle it, in an entirely different light — and in the case of a fast-paced, tightly-packed CIC3* like an Event Rider Masters leg, it can change everything.

Chris Burton and Graf Liberty clear the Forth Bridge. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The field for the final leg of the 2018 Event Rider Masters series might not have been large — only 23 combinations started the competition — but it was never likely to be a walk in the park. Unlike last year, in which series winner Gemma Tattersall had laid such a decisive claim upon the series that her title was set in stone with a leg yet to go, it was all still very much on the table as we dove into Blair’s leg.

Three riders hovered at the top of the series leaderboard, and all three came forward to chase valuable points over the weekend. Australia’s Chris Burton led the way with 96 points before the competition commenced, Laura Collett followed closely behind on 86, and indomitable Kiwi Tim Price sat in third place going into the leg.

But after the first phase, none of the three series contenders was in the lead — instead, it was the man whose name has been on everyone’s lips recently, and who had so impressively taken the non-Masters CIC3* the day prior. Oliver Townend and his 2016 Blair ERM winner Cillnabradden Evo sat in top spot on a 26.4, despite feeling that the test was “disastrous,” while Chris Burton and Graf Liberty made early strides to sit just behind him in second place. There wasn’t a pole to spare between first and eighth place — and all three series contenders sat comfortably within those margins.

Oliver Townend and Cillnabradden Evo slip out of the lead in the second phase. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Sunday’s showjumping test dawned not-so-bright but early, as the previous day’s smattering of sunshine was banished in favour of oppressive cloud cover and driving rain. It would prove to be an influential phase — just five riders would produce clear rounds, falling short of the predicted eight, and rearranging the placings going into the final phase.

Emily King and Dargun jump a fault-free showjumping round. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

After Oliver Townend and Chris Burton each dropped poles, the door was opened for Bramham CCIU253* winners Emily King and Dargun to move into the lead, giving Emily the chance to fight for her first-ever spot on an ERM podium. Behind her, Australia’s Shane Rose –– winner of last year’s leg — piloted CP Qualified to second place, and, still clinging on to the hope of a podium place,  Oliver Townend and Cillnabradden Evo held onto third place.

Laura Collett and London 52. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

As is always the case in an ERM leg, any penalties added are expensive — and can be heartbreaking. Laura Collett‘s quest for the series win — and, indeed, a place on the series podium — looked as though it might have come to an early end as two lowered poles pushed her and the young London 52 well down the placings into 16th.

But it would all come down to the final, fast-paced cross-country course, and who would be able to dig deep and find crucial extra seconds to shave off across Blair’s steep (and soggy) course. The time proved well-nigh impossible to get — or so it seemed.

Chris Burton and Graf Liberty. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Chris Burton has long had the reputation of being the fastest cross country rider in the world, and, sitting outside of the podium placings, he knew he had to make his round count. He and Graf Liberty were third in the CIC3* here last year, adding just 0.8 time penalties, and this weekend, they went one better — by taking economical routes and maintaining a consistent cruising speed, they laid down the only double-clear of the day. This makes Chris not only just the second person to win an ERM leg having had a pole down in the showjumping, but only the second person to make the time in the ERM at Blair, too.

This, and the early retirement of leaders Emily King and Dargun, were enough for Chris to take the win, not only in the leg, but in the 2018 series as well, giving him a £46,000 payday that certainly outshone the dreary conditions.

Chris Burton and Oliver Townend on the podium. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“This is a really special moment,” he grinned from atop the podium. “I’m absolutely delighted. I came here with a lot of pressure, most of which I’d put on my myself, of course, and I’m absolutely stoked that the horse went so well and delighted to be standing here on the top spot — I was really worried I might do something silly, like jump the wrong jump or something!”

Despite Chris’ consistency around CIC3* tracks, this season sees the first time he’s taken an ERM leg, with a victory at Arville prior to his Blair coup.

“I’ve watched these guys winning ERM legs in previous years and thought, ‘gee, I’d love to win an ERM leg — never mind the series! I’ve had an amazing run. I’m thrilled for Graf Liberty’s owners [The Graf Syndicate] and over the moon with the horse.”

Oliver Townend arms himself accordingly for the ERM podium celebrations. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

First-phase leaders Oliver Townend and Cillnabradden Evo added just 2.8 time penalties to finish in second place, though some discussion about the possibility of a missed flag slowed down proceedings. With good humour and typical Yorkshire bluntness, Oliver accepted his prize with a smile.

“It’s nice in the current circumstances to be best Brit again; sure, I doubt the selectors have a TV or a computer, though,” he joked, to cheers from the assembled crowd. “I’m really pleased with the horse. Everyone says he’s had a bit of a wobble, but who wouldn’t, after two years of such consistency? He’s such a special horse, and though he doesn’t have the gallop that he possibly needed for this sort of terrain, he dug deep all the way and every time he landed, he picked himself up, took a deep breath, and galloped on to the next. You really can’t ask for more than that, and to finish second in the final leg is very, very special.”

Emily Philp and Camembert deliver in their ERM debut, producing their 20th clear international showjumping round. Photo by Anna Franklin/Event Rider Masters.

A new face made up the third spot on the podium, after a clear showjumping round and just 2.4 time penalties allowed her to climb well up the leaderboard. Emily Philp and Camembert finished on a score of 33.9, their best-ever three-star finishing score in four seasons at the level.

“I don’t think I made it look easy, but I had an amazing ride,” she said. “What a great horse — I’m so lucky to have him, and it’s incredible to be here with these guys. It hasn’t quite sunk in, but it’s absolutely incredible, like a dream come true. I sort of dared myself not to take a pull the whole way around the course, and it paid off.”

Tim Price and Wesko. Photo by Anna Franklin/Event Rider Masters.

Tim Price and Wesko added 5.6 time penalties to the four penalties they’d picked up in the showjumping, finishing sixth in the leg and third in the series, just a point behind eighth-placed Laura Collett, who finished second in the series standings.

Laura Collett and London 52 finish in eighth place. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

TIM PRICE CLAIMS BLAIR’S CCI3*

Not content with simply finishing in the money in the ERM, Tim Price sprinted back to the collecting ring in time to jump a foot-perfect showjumping round in the CCI3* class aboard Pats Jester. This bumped him from third place into the winner’s spot as those ahead of them had unfortunate rails, scuppering their chances of victory.

Tim Price and Pats Jester add a CCI3* victory to their resume. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Pats Jester, who was named for breeder Kate Maitland‘s late mother Pat, might have won in his debut three-star at Ballindenisk, but he’s yet to reach the leagues of superstardom of the rest of Price’s top-level string.

“No one has really heard of him, but then he’s never featured in a big, strong class yet,” admitted Tim. “He’s a bit of an under-the-radar type; he doesn’t shine or bling or anything, but he’s a consummate worked and performer and he has all the ability — it’s just a matter of squeezing it out of him.”

Tim and Pats Jester finished bang on the optimum time in Saturday’s cross-country, demonstrating an undeniable return to form after a difficult start to their season.

“He’s had a funny old year, but I’m really proud of him for finishing it on this note,” said Tim. The 10-year-old gelding was eliminated for a horse fall at Poland’s Baborowko CIC3* in May, and eliminated again across the country at Belgium’s Arville CIC3* in June. This meant that he was disqualified from competing at the level, and so Tim ran him in Barbury’s CIC2* in July to regain his qualification. A steady run and 24th place meant that they could contest Gatcombe earlier this month, finishing seventh in the British Open Championship CIC3*. His clear round in trying conditions is due to the Price family’s winter training regime, which sees them contest international showjumping classes on Spain’s Sunshine Tour.

“He’s a classic jumper with a whole lot of confidence, and he’s really benefitted from going out to Spain to showjump every winter. He knows how it feels to tire on course but still step up and jump a clear round.”

Pats Jester will end his season now, in preparation for the big move up to four-star in the 2019 season.

Tom McEwen and Strike Smartly. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Tom McEwen and Strike Smartly led throughout, but tipped the planks to slip into second place.

“I had that fence down on both horses — I think I need to practice over planks,” said Tom, who also finished in fourth place on Figaro van het Broekxhof. “Both jumped super, though, and I couldn’t be happier with them. It was wet walking the course, but fortunately we got a bit of a break and then main arena held up well, considering. It’s always a shame to end on a pole, but it was a real good, positive note on which to take Strike Smartly back to Badminton next year.”

Izzy Taylor and Director General. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Third place went to Izzy Taylor and the much-reformed Director General, who overcame first-phase issues earlier in the season to produce three impressive performances this week, adding just a pole to their dressage score of 27.7.

“I’m very pleased with him; he jumped very well, and even though we had a fence I’m absolutely delighted with him,” said Izzy. “He’s new this year and still has a huge amount to come; he’s green in his knowledge and any good jumping horse can have a fence. On cross-country he was just class — he came home nearly 20 seconds inside the time, even though we took a long route, and he recovered almost immediately.”

So that’s a wrap on this year’s busy, blustery Blair Castle — now, we move swiftly on to the Big B, with nary enough time to wring out our knickers betwixt the two. Pack away your sporrans for another year — we’ll see you in Lincolnshire!

The Blair Castle CCI3* top ten.

Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials: Website, ScheduleLive Stream, Event Rider Masters, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage

Blair Castle: Townend Heads Event Rider Masters Finale

Oliver Townend and 2016 Blair ERM winner Cillnabradden Evo take the lead in the finale leg of the 2018 series. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Was there ever any doubt? After his total domination of the non-Masters CIC3* class, Oliver Townend entered the arena a man on a mission in Blair’s ERM. Riding his 2016 winner Cillnabradden Evo, he produced an unbeatable score of 26.4, giving him a narrow lead of half a point over second-placed Chris Burton and Graf Liberty.

Despite the impressive score, Townend admitted he hadn’t felt the test would lead.

“It felt disastrous, really,” he laughed. “But I think that I’m on form, and the horse is on form, and obviously it’s nice if you’re feeling like you’re having a disaster and then you come out in the lead! But he wasn’t really with me in there much at all, and he was very, very bright – which is good for some bits, not the dressage, usually – but look, he’s very well, and he’s happy, and we’re still in it.”

Cillnabradden Evo and Oliver Townend. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Cillnabradden Evo is no stranger to the top of the leaderboard – he’s won or come second in six of his last ten international runs, nine of which have been at CIC3*, and led the first phase at this month’s British Open Championships at Gatcombe on a remarkable score of 19. But his recent form has shown some uncharacteristic hiccups – he was retired on cross country at both Gatcombe and at the Arville leg of the ERM, and withdrawn from Barbury’s leg following a disastrous 20 penalty showjumping round. Normally, we can depend upon ‘Gary’ for impeccable showjumping rounds and quick, attacking cross-country performances – but there remains a question mark over his head, which Townend will be aiming to remove in today’s jumping phases.

Second-placed Chris Burton left few marks on the table with Graf Liberty, posting a 26.9 to maintain a comfortable foothold on his quest for the series title. He currently sits atop the 2018 ERM leaderboard, with 96 points accumulated so far. But competitive placings are worth a small fortune in series points, and the margins at the top are slim: in second-place, Laura Collett sits just behind him on 86 points, and third-placed Tim Price boasts 81, leaving the door wide open for a change at the top. A top placing in an ERM leg is worth 30 points, while second place is worth 28, third 26, and so on – so nothing is guaranteed here.

Series leader Chris Burton and Graf Liberty sit a fraction of a penalty behind Oliver Townend after the first phase. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

But with just one phase down, there’s still plenty to be done – and current leader Burton is a rider known for his immaculate, high-velocity cross-country performances.

“I’m very happy with [Graf Liberty],” he said after his dressage test. “It piles some pressure on, when you’re in a series like this, and this guy is always a work in progress in this phase, but he’s very good cross country.”

Chris Burton and Graf Liberty. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Third place is held overnight by recent Bramham CCIU253* winners Emily King and Dargun, who produced a score of 27.1. Though Jane del Missier‘s ten-year-old gelding has had some niggles in the cross-country phase, the 2018 season has seen him on the up and up, following up his impressive Bramham win with a fourth-place finish in Gatcombe’s British Open Championship CIC3* earlier in the month. His performance in this phase, too, has been solidified – he’s now a consistent upper-20s performer, knocking a smattering of marks off his averages of last season.

“I’m over the moon with Dargun,” enthused King. “He’s such a special little horse, and each year he’s getting stronger, which means he can perform the movements that he already does so accurately with more flair.”

Though not a contender for the series leaderboard, King has her sights set on another top result for her most prolific upper-level horse.

“Hopefully we can get to the top of the podium – he’s a really good show jumper and has been fantastic around the bigger cross-country tracks recently. He’s a very bold, brave little chap, so we should be grand.”

Emily King and Dargun sit in third place. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Laura Collett and London 52. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Series contender Laura Collett piloted the relatively inexperienced London 52 to a 28.5, good enough for fifth place behind Marcio Carvalho Jorge and JCR Winner‘s 27.8. Though only in his debutante season as a three-star horse, London 52 has had some promising results so far this year – he took second and eleventh placings in ERM legs at Arville and Jardy, respectively, and although this weekend’s test doesn’t quite beat his level PB of 28.3 at Jardy, it puts another very good mark onto his fledgling record.

Laura Collett and London 52. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“He’s trying so hard,” said Collett of the Landos nine-year-old. “He’s so inexperienced, and to come into an arena like that and for him to try like he did was amazing. He’s been thrown in at the deep end at this level; he’s done three ERMs and so far, he’s been fantastic.”

Laura Collett and London 52. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Collett admits that a track like Blair’s presents a real challenge for a horse still in the early stages of his education.

“Like Arville, it’s unknown territory with the Blair hills, and he hasn’t really seen anything like this before – so fingers crossed he’s feeling bold and ready to gallop!”

Last year’s leg winner Shane Rose slipped behind fellow Australian Bill Levett and Shannondale Titan (6th) into seventh on a score of 28.9, this time riding the striking CP Qualified. Based back in Australia this season, Shane hasn’t been the familiar face on the UK circuit that he was last year – but the pair reunited to take a top-20 place at Luhmuehlen earlier this summer, and could be a formidable combination across Blair’s tough track.

Third-placed series contender Tim Price brought forward his 2014 Luhmuehlen CCI4* winner Wesko, who has been absent from competition since early 2016, but was gently brought back this June with ON runs at West Wilts and Nunney.

Tim Price and Wesko make good on their return to the top. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Together, they produced a 30.3 test, adding a handful of marks to the mid-20s scores they’ve been posting in their return to competition this season.

“He’s feeling fantastic; unfortunately, today that meant that he was a bit hot for the job,” laughed Price, noting that wife Jonelle, too, struggled with some minor exuberance in the ring, and joking that perhaps they were feeding their horses too much.

“There’s a Porsche under there and sometimes it’s just purring, other times it revs a bit – today we were revving! It’s not the work that we’re capable of, which is a bit of a shame, but there we go. It’s actually probably a good thing that we’re not in the lead – he’s a super jumper and I’m hoping that he makes it look easy tomorrow.”

Jonelle Price and Cloud Dancer II. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Jonelle Price and Cloud Dancer II added just two-tenths of a penalty to husband Tim’s mark to sit behind him on 30.5. The eleven-year-old San Remo gelding, owned by the Marley and Me Syndicate, has won his last three national runs, but has failed to complete his two international competitions since 2016 – at Wiesbaden’s ERM he was eliminated for refusals, while Price opted to retire on Arville’s tricky track.

But this isn’t to say he’s to be discounted in this weekend’s competition: in 2015 he won Blenheim’s 8/9 year-old class, and in 2016 he finished third in the CIC3* so the talent and the tenacity are there. Somehow, Jonelle doesn’t strike us as the type to drive a horse all the way to Scotland without giving a fast clear a jolly good bash.

Jonelle Price and Cloud Dancer. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Missed the fun? You can rewatch the morning’s dressage action in full on the Event Rider Masters website. The competition resumes this morning at 9.40am BST/4.40am EST, with the 23 competitors tackling the tough showjumping course before heading onto Blair’s influential cross country at 1.25pm BST/8.25am EST.

The top ten in the ERM after dressage.

Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials: Website, ScheduleLive Stream, Event Rider Masters, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage

Blair Castle CIC3*: Oliver Townend Withdraws Everything, Wins Anyway

There’s still another day of Blair to go, and I’ve already typed a certain Yorkshireman’s name so many times that all of my devices autocorrect any disyllabic word beginning with ‘t’ to ‘Townend’. On the hunt for some stronger teabags? Apparently stronger Townends are what’s in my basket. Run out of towels in the temporary lodgings? No Townends to be found here! I’m seriously considering dusting off ChinchBot and getting him to write this piece, because it’s about to go exactly the way you’d expect.

But don’t click out of your browser tab just yet, readers – despite his 1-2-3 stronghold after yesterday’s dressageOliver Townend didn’t take the obvious route to the win. In fact, he pressed the start button, went back to his home screen, clicked on ‘expert mode’, and became the only person to ever win the Sims, or something.

You see, if you’ve been following along thus far, you’ll know that Townend had five horses in this class – four-star winners Cooley Masterclass and Ballaghmor Class, Badminton runner-up Cooley SRS, experienced four-star mount MHS King Joules, and three-star first-timer Tregilder. The former four sat in 1st, 3rd, 2nd and 6th, respectively, cutting what looked like a clear path to the win – but for a little event in Lincolnshire next week. Those four horses make up 80% of his Burghley entries and, though he can only bring forward three horses next week, he announced yesterday that he planned to withdraw them all after showjumping today. And so, rounds jumped and legs stretched, they were withdrawn. It was all on Tregilder, now sitting in 9th place after producing one of only eight penalty-free rounds in a 46-strong field, to tackle the cross-country and bring home the glory.

When he did? Well, it took even Townend by surprise.

Oliver Townend’s young pretender takes the throne in his CIC3* debut. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“He was just unbelievable – just a different league, gallop-wise, everything-wise,” said Townend of the eight-year-old gelding, who is jointly owned by Stephen and Victoria Hazeldine and The Mitchell Fox Group. Tregilder was the lowest-placed of Townend’s five entries in this class after yesterday’s dressage, where he posted a 33.5 to sit twelfth overnight. But clear rounds inside the time meant that he not only took the victory in the CIC3* class – he was the only horse to finish on his dressage score, too.

“I didn’t expect this result at all; I just came to give him an education,” explained Townend. “But then, when he went into the showjumping, he was such a professional. He knew where the pole was every time, he knew where his legs were, and he let me help him out and take charge when I needed to.”

This game attitude, and the horse’s ability to take direction as needed, proved a boon on the cross-country course too, which Townend described as “one of the toughest CIC3* tests I’ve seen”, citing the hanging log and angled hedges at 15AB and 16 as one of the trickiest questions.

“That, to me, was a championship question, and nigh on overboard for this level,” he said. Despite this, Tregilder took the testing three-star in his stride, making easy work of his debut at the level. “The horse has had some run-outs recently [in the CIC2* classes at Barbury and Floors Castle, and in his prep run at Gatcombe Intermediate], and so I didn’t check my watch – instead, I gave him time to breathe up the hill and just pushed him up a gear every time he jumped a skinny. I couldn’t believe it when I crossed the line and looked at my watch, but I think with a bit of experience on his side he’d have been 15 or 20 seconds faster.”

Oliver Townend accepts a plethora of prizes for his decisive victory in Blair’s CIC3*. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The horse’s end-of-season plans remain unconfirmed, though, as Oliver points out, the 8/9 year-old CIC3* class at Blenheim is an option.

“I never thought I’d be available for Blenheim this year, but now it turns out I am,” he said with a wry smile, referencing his recent omission from the Great British contingency for the forthcoming World Equestrian Games. “But all that said, I’d be happy to put him away now and let him finish on today’s result – it’ll come down to what his owners want to do.”

Townend was quick to credit the horse’s owners as well as his breeders, the Leicestershire-based Preci Spark: “I’m thrilled to be able to fly the flag for them; they’re doing brilliant things for British breeding,” he said.

Fellow British rider Piggy French clinched second place with new ride Brookfield Inocent, previously produced and piloted by British-based Australian Kevin McNab. After Townsend’s spate of withdrawals, French and the nine-year-old gelding, owned by Alison Swinburn and John and Chloe Perry were the de facto leaders going into the final phase. They looked set to win it, too – but for the addition of 7.2 time penalties, which shifted them below the leaders onto a score of 35.1.

Piggy French and Brookfield Inocent cement their fledgling partnership in Blair’s CIC3*. Photo by Katie Neat Photography.

The pair won Somerford Park’s CIC2* last weekend, making their three-star debut as a team in this weekend’s competition.

“He’s a really cool horse and this makes two good runs within a week – he’s a new horse to me, but Kevin has done such a wonderful job,” said a delighted French. “He’s always been run quite slowly, to work on building his education, but I’ve been finding that running him a bit quicker seems to make him braver. Sometimes changing a horse’s way of going can bring out all sorts of niggles – I’ve had that before when I’ve taken on new rides – but I wanted to give him a solid performance today to walk away with.”

French opted to take the long route at the final water at 19, the direct option of which features a replica of Forth Bridge atop a steep mound, which added expensive seconds but created a positive, educational experience for the up-and-coming talent.

“He’s had a couple of problems looking into ditches, so I went for the alternative,” explained French. “He’s a really exciting horse, and one that I’m looking ahead with, although he’s very tight and spooky when he goes into the arena for dressage and showjumping, so that’s just taking a bit of figuring out.”

French, who next heads to Burghley with Vanir Kamira before flying to Tryon for the WEG with Quarrycrest Echo, also heads the CCI2* aboard Jennifer Saunders‘ Cooley Monsoon.

Ben Hobday and Shadow Man II: “he’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a horse.” Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Ben Hobday and his 2017 Young Horse World Championships mount Shadow Man II looked formidable across the country today, adding 8.4 time penalties to finish in third place on a score of 37.8.

“I really want to win one of these – I’ve not won a three-star yet, but it makes you even hungrier when you’re up there with the big guys like Piggy and Oliver,” said Hobday, who exulted in his young horse’s impressive performance over the past few days.

“He’s only an eight-year-old and there’s plenty for us to work on, so hopefully we’ll be on top soon. I’m hungry and he’s got it in him. I need to work on getting him a bit more supple; I thought his test was actually better than the mark [29.4] suggested, but I was so happy with him in every phase. He galloped as quickly as a young horse deserves to; I just love him, he’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a horse.”

Shadow Man II will next contest the 8/9 year-old CIC3* at September’s Blenheim Palace International.

Izzy Taylor and PSH Gazelle. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Today’s jumping phases saw a sweeping change across the leaderboard, with just eight fault-free showjumping rounds out of 46, and 20 of the 37 cross-country starters finishing without clocking up any jumping penalties across Alec Lochore‘s tricky course. Tomorrow’s ERM competitors will tackle the same track, so we could see a huge change not only across the leg leaderboard, but in the fight for the series, too.

The top ten in the CIC3*.

Tom McEwen and Strike Smartly lead going into the final phase of the CCI3*. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

TOM MCEWEN REMAINS ATOP CCI3*

The CCI3* cross country was considerably less dramatic, with 22 of 24 starters completing the long track and only six combinations picking up jumping penalties. First-phase leaders Tom McEwen and Strike Smartly added nothing to their dressage score of 26.9 to stay at the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of today’s competition.

Izzy Taylor and Director General – second place going into the final phase. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The top three overnight – Tom on Strike SmartlyIzzy Taylor on Director General, and Tim Price on Pats Jester, recorded the only three double-clears of the day, but go into showjumping without a pole between them. We’ll bring you everything you need to know from tomorrow morning’s final horse inspection, before delving into the exciting final phase of the competition. Stay tuned!

The top ten in the CCI3* following today’s cross country.

Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials: Website, ScheduleLive Stream, Event Rider Masters, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage

The Blair Castle Course: Chinch-Tested, Rider-Approved, plus Bonus Sporrans

Welcome to Casa de Chinch.

The Alec Lochore-designed courses at Blair Castle never disappoint. Making use of the striking – and incredibly varied – natural terrain, with its dramatic inconsistencies, sweeping slopes, and craggy outcrops, it twists and turns and begs for bold riding. It’s one of those special courses with a huge amount of personality – not least because of the playfully designed fences, which embrace Scottish heritage and stereotypes without sacrificing savvy questions and level-appropriate technicality. Even walking it, you get the feeling that ridden right, it would reward both horse and rider with that rare, special feeling of adrenaline and air-time. In short? It looks like great fun, whether you’re jumping it or watching it, and it’s going to give everyone plenty to do.

If you wanna go and take a ride wit Chinch…

Chinch took advantage of Land Rover’s patronage of the event to check out the course in fine style. He had planned to walk each of the distances, too, and provide his eager fans with his top tips for riding each line, but when he declared that there were 163 strides between 9A and 9B, we had to intercede. Leave it to the professionals, small rodent.

Check out the interactive course plans for the CCI3* and CIC3*, provided by CrossCountryApp and snapped by Jane and Nigel Clarke (and their helpful pooch, of course!).

Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials: Website, ScheduleLive Stream, Event Rider Masters, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage

Friday Video & UK Notes from World Equestrian Brands: Making Sense of Cross Country

The end of a great day at our first @bciht #bciht

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Happy Friday from rural Scotland, where I’m frantically rubbing two sticks together to try to transmit this information to you via smoke signal! You know what’s hard to work out via smoke signal? Weblinks.

Anyway, we’re right in the thick of it here at Blair, but there’s plenty going on around the rest of the UK, too — check out our weekend preview, and make sure to get your entries in quickly before this weekend’s ballot dates roll around!

UK Weekend Preview: 

Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials: [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage]

Keysoe (3): [Website] [Ride Times]

Wellington: [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Shelford Manor (2): [Ride Times]

Llanymynech (2): [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Treborough Hill (2): [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Events Opening this Weekend:

24th: Dauntsey Park (2) – BE90-I – [EnterWiltshire (September 28-30)

25th: Bishop Burton (2) – BE90-N – [EnterEast Yorkshire (September 29-30)

25th: Little Downham (3) – BE80-A, with BE90/100 RF – [EnterCambridgeshire (September 29 – October 1)

Events Balloting this Weekend:

25th: Munstead (2) – BE80-BE100 with BE90RF – [EnterSurrey (September 15-16)

26th: Wee Burgie – BE80-N – [EnterMoray (September 16)

Friday Video: The Sports Explainer Takes on Cross-Country

You know what we really love here at EN? We love it when the sports broadcasting giants get involved with equestrian sports, and we especially love it when they help to make our (admittedly somewhat baffling) discipline of choice more accessible, more decipherable, and, ultimately, more exciting to a new swathe of fans. Eurosport’s ‘Explainer’ series does just that, with their brand spanking new follow-up to the successful showjumping video they circulated this summer. Check it out and give it a share — with any luck, we can all convince an unhorsey friend or two that it’s well worth tuning into Burghley next week. Viewer numbers, people. It’s all about the viewer numbers.

Eurosport: Longines Sports Explainer

Learn how to master the art of a cross country combination in this superb sports explainer 🐴

Posted by Eurosport on Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Blair Castle: Townend on Top in CIC3* Following Selection Surprise

Day three of the Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials saw a well-stocked CIC3* section get underway, with a full day of dressage overseen by judges Les SmithKatrin Eichinger-Kniely, and Xavier Lesauce.

Forty-seven combinations presented before the ground jury, with several riders bringing forward multiple entries — but nobody was kept as busy as Oliver Townend, who had five rides in this class. And, lest anyone assembled claim that his unparalleled success comes only as the result of prolific entries, he threw down the gauntlet with each and every one of them.

Oliver Townend and Cooley Masterclass head a decisive CIC3* domination. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Townsend’s trio of young superstars set up shop comfortably at the top of the leaderboard, with Kentucky winner Cooley Masterclass (Ramiro B x The Swallo) taking the top spot on a score of 24.4. Cooley SRS (Ramiro B x Ballynattin Pride), second in his four-star debut at Badminton this year, sits just a tenth of a point behind him on 24.5, while 2017 Burghley winner Ballaghmor Class (Courage II x Kilderry Place) made it a hat trick with a good score of 25.3 for third overnight. Further down the leaderboard, MHS King Joules lies in sixth place on 29, and the up-and-comer Tregilder holds onto 12th place with 33.5.

While anyone familiar with Townend’s cool, calm command of an international one-day will be unsurprised by today’s performances, his fantastic first-phase efforts come after the hotly debated announcement of Team GB’s World Equestrian Games squad. Despite being short-listed on the three horses who top today’s leaderboard, and in spite of his position atop the FEI World Rankings, Townend is notably absent from the team that will head to Tryon next month.

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class survey their kingdom at Blair Castle. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Though each of the horses remains on the reserve list, with the rest of the unselected short list, Townend continues to look ahead to his next opportunities for a major win. He has five horses entered for next week’s Burghley Horse Trials, three of which he’ll be able to take forward. Those include today’s top three mounts, the sixth-placed MHS King Joules, and four-star debutante Ulises. We’ll likely see all of his CIC3* rides showjump tomorrow afternoon, but Townend, who hasn’t yet decided which of his Burghley entrants will contest the four-star, will only run twelfth-placed Tregilder across the country.

Oliver Townend and Cooley Masterclass. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Townend has another important card up his sleeve this week in the form of Cilnabradden Evo (Creevagh Ferro Ex Siebe x Willow Garden), who he pilots in the weekend’s Event Rider Masters series finale. The winner here in 2016’s leg, ‘Gary’ has recorded three top-ten CIC3* finishes this season — including a win at Poland’s Baborowko — and is a strong favourite to claim a podium place (and a hefty paycheque) this weekend. WEG or no WEG, everything could be coming up Milhouse indeed. Watch this space.

Piggy French and Brookfield Inocent. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Piggy French holds fourth place overnight — as well as the lead in the CCI2*, aboard the precociously talented Cooley Monsoon — with Brookfield Inocent (Innocent x Shalies Pet), who posted a score of 27.9. Formerly ridden by Australia’s Kevin McNab, Brookfield Inocent made his CIC3* debut in the latter half of the 2017 season, recording top-20 finishes at Millstreet and in Blenheim’s prestigious 8/9yo class. The nine-year-old only came to French three months ago, but their results together have thus far been encouraging — they finished 13th in the CIC2* at Barbury last month and won this month’s Somerford Park CIC2*.

Fifth place was clinched by Borders-based young rider Bella Innes Ker, whose parents, the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe, own Floors Castle and host the popular event on the estate. She rides her own Carolyn (Connery x Sarina P), the fourteen-year-old mare with whom she posted top-twenty finishes in the CCI3* classes at Blenheim and Tattersalls in 2017. They sit on a score of 28.4 going into tomorrow’s jumping phases.

Tomorrow sees an incredibly busy day of competition across the board at Blair, with the Event Rider Masters finale kicking off at 9.00am BST/4.00am EST. You can follow along with the ERM as it unfolds via their livestream. The CIC3* showjumping begins at 1.30pm BST/8.00am EST, moving onto cross-country at 4.10pm BST/11.10am EST. The CCI3* cross-country will start at 2.45pm BST/9.45am EST. All of the CIC3* and CCI3* action will be live-streamed via the Blair Castle Facebook page. 

The top ten after the first phase of the Blair Castle CIC3*.

Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials: Website, ScheduleLive Stream, Event Rider Masters, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage

Blair Castle: Tom McEwen Triumphs in CCI3* Dressage

Tom McEwen and Strike Smartly lead after the first phase in Blair’s CCI3*. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Welcome to Thursday at Blair Castle, and the commencement of eventing proper: the CCI3* dressage got underway this afternoon, and I stopped Googling ‘what do Scottish men wear under their kilts?’ for just long enough to watch some horses. (I kid. I’m excellent at multitasking and so I continued this essential research while watching.)

Tom McEwen was both the first and the final rider to make his way down the centreline in the 25-strong class, but it wasn’t until his second ride, aboard the 16.3hh Ghareeb gelding Strike Smartly, that he pulled his trump card out of his sporran.

The eleven-year-old gelding has been one of McEwen’s most exciting campaigners, winning on his CCI3* debut in 2017 at Ireland’s Camphire after taking the spring’s Chatsworth CIC3*. Though the horse’s season didn’t end as hoped — he was withdrawn at the final horse inspection at Boekelo — he had an exciting start to this season, recording a top-20 finish at Belton CIC3*, before making his four-star debut at Badminton. There, he jumped a conservative clear round, befitting a first-timer at the level, and finished in 27th place.

Tom McEwen and Strike Smartly. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

McEwen and ‘Paddy’s’ score of 26.9 this afternoon allowed them to sneak into the lead by less than a point, taking the top spot from overnight runners-up Izzy Taylor and Director General. Owned by Jennie Thorne, the eleven-year-old was produced to two-star and Advanced by Neil Spratt and Amelia Walker, and came to Taylor at the beginning of the 2018 season. An obvious talent, Director General’s record has nevertheless been plagued by his moments of volatility — he finished fifth in Tattersalls’ CIC3* in May, but only six weeks later, he was eliminated for ‘prolonged disobedience’ in this phase at Barbury’s leg of the Event Rider Masters series.

Izzy Taylor and Director General demonstrate a marked improvement in their first-phase performance. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Fortunately, he showed none of his capacity for dramatics in today’s test, which was suitably rewarded with a score of 27.7 — a personal best, by a wide margin, for this horse at any international competition. Though he picked up 40 penalties across the country at this month’s Festival of British Eventing, a first instance of jumping penalties in this phase with Taylor, he’s ordinarily a quick and consistent performer over solid fences, and will be interesting to watch over the rollercoaster course here at Blair.

Slipping into third place is New Zealand’s Tim Price, who piloted Pats Jester to an overnight score of 28.5. Such is the breadth and depth of the talent in Team Price’s stables that this ten-year-old has, perhaps, coasted along under the radar — but on his CCI3* debut last season at Ballindenisk, he stormed to an easy win, and his results this season have been promising. He picked up seventh place in the hotly-contested CIC3* at Gatcombe earlier this month, and his first-phase score today betters his Ballindenisk and Gatcombe scores by two marks. Even more excitingly, he’s never had more than eight time penalties in a CCI. Forget the Cekatinkas and the Ringwood Sky Boys for a moment — keep an eye on this horse.

Tom McEwen and the delightfully-monikered Mr Fig. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Setting the standard early on, Tom McEwen managed to hold onto fourth place too, with his first ride of the day, Figaro van het Broekxhof. Like Izzy Taylor’s mount, ‘Mr Fig’ has been produced to the top level by a variety of riders, including Sarah Bullimore, who piloted the thirteen-year-old in his first season at the three-star level in 2014. He then went to Jodie Amos, with whom he represented Great Britain at Strzegom’s Nations Cup leg in 2015, before starting — though not completing — his first four-star at Badminton in 2016. Though Mr Fig was absent from competition in 2017 after sustaining an injury, he piqued the interest of eventing’s punters in his first international with McEwen in May, when he finished fifth in the competitive CICO3* at Houghton. His score today of 29.8 marks the first time he’s broken the 30 barrier in his new partnership with McEwen.

James Sommerville and his own Talent rounded out the top five after the first phase, posting a score of 33.7 to slot in with just shy of a pole between himself and McEwen. 7th in Bramham’s CCI3* last season, and 5th and 11th in CIC3*s at Strzegom and Burgham this year, Sommerville and Talent are capable of straight, accurate and quick cross-country rounds — but they’re equally prone to racking up a steady handful of time penalties, too. But their confidence — and their results — seem to be on the rise after an ostensibly clear round, but for a knocked pin, on their second attempt at Badminton this spring.

Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class at Blair in 2017. Photo courtesy of Event Rider Masters.

Tomorrow sees a day of rest for our CCI3* competitors, as the non-ERM CIC3* kicks off with 47 combinations coming forward for their first phase. These combinations include World Number One Oliver Townend, who brings an exciting string of world-beaters forward. Four of his five entries — MHS King JoulesCooley SRSCooley Masterclass, and Ballaghmor Class — are also entered for next week’s Burghley CCI4*, but as he can only ride three of his five entries there, it’ll be anyone’s guess which of his horses will get a full run this weekend.

We’ll be bringing you the low-down on the fantastic courses here at Blair tomorrow, with angry haggis and sporrans galore — stay tuned to EN for all the Scottish madness you could possibly want, need, and/or stomach!

Oh, and for what it’s worth — apparently Scots like to prance around in their kilts wearing nae pants.

Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials: Website, Schedule, Start Times & Live ScoringLive Stream, Event Rider Masters, ERM Live Scores, EN’s Coverage

Bonnie Wee Blair: It’s Not Just Haggis, It’s Horse Inspections, Too

TFW you travel so far north of London that clocks haven’t been invented yet. Photo courtesy of Tilly Berendt.

Hello, Eventing Nation, and welcome to somewhere very, very north! Somewhere higher than Edinburgh! Somewhere I had to get on a plane to get to, even though I’ve been reliably informed that I’m still on the same land-mass as my sort-of-London home. That’s right, chums — this week, Chinch has donned his sporran and we’ve headed to the Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials, where we’ll be reporting on all the action from the CCI3*, the CIC3*, the exciting finale of the 2018 Event Rider Master series, and, most importantly, all the hilarious things we spot Scottish people doing.

You see, Scotland is just like the rest of the world, only slightly more bonkers. They like trees, so there are lots of trees around. Normal stuff. Except in the late 18th century, a chap named Alexander Nasmyth decided that there weren’t enough trees on the rocky crags around Blair Atholl (which isn’t quite pronounced how you’d like to pronounce it, you naughty readers).

Anyway, Nasmyth — whose son James invented the jackhammer, which sets this story up for an awful lot of very rude jokes — was a creative sort of chap, and wasn’t to be deterred by the fact that said crags were impossible for a human to scale. No, Nasmyth wanted trees, and now the Duke of Atholl (LOL) wanted trees too, and so they came up with a marvellous plan to get the trees from ground level up onto the mountainous crags. They loaded a bunch of cannons up with seedlings and they quite literally SHOT them at the rocks. Anyway, there’s loads of trees there now, so which Atholl has the last laugh? The Atholls of yesteryear, that’s who.

They like Twitter, too, which is something we can all relate to, right? Social media is great and definitely hasn’t created an imperceptible but impassable barrier in normal human communication and decency. Anyway, the Scots do Twitter, so you can interact with them at your leisure, except…

Try to tell me that Scottish Twitter isn’t the best thing you’ve ever seen. Just TRY.

They also like ponies, but unlike their nice, normal, staid English neighbours, they aren’t content with the #PonyClubAndChill way of life. Instead, they like to take their Highland ponies out into the wilderness to go deerstalking and also probably Loch Ness monster hunting. Your children put bows in their plaits and jump rustic fences; their children haul stags onto their ponies’ backs and fight for Scottish independence in kilts. It’s cool.

Anyway, so far so good at Blair. No one’s stolen Chinch and inserted him into a haggis (that’s a sheep’s stomach filled with unidentifiable ground meat chunks, obviously), there’s an incredibly beautiful castle to explore, and a veritable smorgasbord of eventers have made the long journey north to participate in this week’s event.

Laura Collett and Sir Papillon trot up for the CCI2*. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The competition got off to a flying start today with the Hi Ho Jewellery sponsored first horse inspection, wherein the CCI1*, 2*, and 3* horses were presented to the ground jury. Just one horse was spun — Daniel Scott‘s Thatsmylot will not, unfortunately, be contesting the CCI1* — and the rest of the horses were passed by Blair’s ground jury.

Michael Jackson is Best-Dressed Gent at the first horse inspection. Photo by Lindsay Robertson/Hi Ho Silver.

The Hi Ho Silver team awarded two best-dressed awards — a ladies’ award and a gents’ award — across the three classes. These were given to Chelsea Pearce and Michael Jackson. (No, not that one.)

Chelsea Pearce tops the sartorial stakes. Photo by Lindsay Robertson/Hi Ho Silver.

Each of the CCI classes will proceed with dressage tomorrow, while the large CIC3* class will begin on Friday and the ERM kicks off on Saturday. We’ve got some of the top-ranked eventers in the world here — from Oliver Townend, who brings forth six entries, to Tim and Jonelle Price, who’ve carted a lorryload up.

Pack your tweed and your barely concealed terror, kids: we’re going on a wild ride this week.

We’ll be bringing you all the action (and some of the haggis) as it happens – keep it loched on EN for everything you need to know! (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?! DID YOU SEE???? I’ll be here all week. I really will.)

Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials: Website, ScheduleLive Stream, Event Rider Masters, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage

Friday Video and UK Notes from World Equestrian Brands: The Willberry Story

Hannah Francis after performing the test ride at Tattersalls in 2016. Photo courtesy of Jack Lyons Media.

It’s been a big week here in the UK, with the announcement of the GB eventing team for the forthcoming WEG causing a ripple of controversy across social media. But there’s no time to dwell on these things – the CCI3* and CIC3* Event Rider Masters finale at Blair Castle is swiftly approaching, and then it’s straight on to Burghley, before we head to Tryon. Who needs sleep (or sanity) anyway?!

UK Weekend Preview:

Somerford Park International (2): [Ride Times] [Website] [Cross Country Videos]

Firle Place International: [Ride Times] [Website] [Cross Country Videos]

Solihull (2): [Ride Times] [Website]

Events Opening this Weekend:

17th: Moreton Morrell (2) – BE90-N – [EnterWarwickshire (September 21-22)

17th: Kelsall Hill (2) – BE80-I with BE80 Championships – [EnterCheshire (September 21-23)

Events Balloting this Weekend:

19th: Burnham Market (2) – BE80-N – [EnterNorfolk (September 9)

Team Jung runs alongside as Michi and Sam finish their cross-country round, Willberry Pony in situ. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Friday Video: The History of Hannah Francis’ Willberry Wonder Pony

Just over two years ago, the eventing community lost one of its most compellingly positive, tough, and determined family members. Hannah Francis was just eighteen when she passed away, but the impact she left on the sport was unmatched. Now, her Willberry Wonder Pony charity works to raise vital funds for osteosarcoma research, while granting the equestrian wishes of those diagnosed with a serious illness.

We were really pleased to have the @willberrywonderpony team join us for #ponyeuros2018, especially as we got to include their jump in our showjumping course! It's a brilliant cause, so if you didn't get to pop and see them last week make sure you had over to their profile now to find out more and to help kick cancer's butt! #bishopburton #bishopburtonequine #bishopburtoncollege #fei #feiglobal #feipony #feiponyriders #feieuropeanchampionships #feiponyeuros #ponyeuropeans #ponyeuros #ponycompetition #ponyriding #horsecompetition #horseshow #eastridingofyorkshire #eastriding #eastyorkshire #myeastriding #myeastyorkshire #kickingcancersbutt #willberrywonderpony #willbery #cancercharity #showjumping #showjumper

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To find out more about the charity, and to see how you can get involved, click here. Hannah’s legacy is a unique and remarkable one – let’s take it worldwide.

#kickingcancersbutt

Friday Video and UK Notes from World Equestrian Brands: Pony Power on Show

GB's eventing team got off to a flying start in the dressage this morning, ending the day in gold medal position. 🥇 Part 2 of the competition is tomorrow afternoon. Come and watch for free! Can't make it? We'll be recording all of the action ready for a special highlights video, which will air on Saturday at around 1.30pm, before the cross country starts. 📺 Check out the live stream schedule, start lists and results by clicking on the link in our bio @bishopburtonequine. 📷 @adamfanthorpe #ponyeuros2018 #bishopburton #bishopburtonequine #bishopburtoncollege #fei #feiglobal #feipony #feiponyriders #feieuropeanchampionships #feiponyeuros #ponyeuropeans #ponyeuros #ponycompetition #ponyriding #horsecompetition #horseshow #eastridingofyorkshire #eastriding #eastyorkshire #myeastriding #myeastyorkshire #dressagepony #dressageponies #eventing #eventingpony

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A confession: my name is Tilly Berendt, and I am a pony addict. Seriously – the fiestier the better, the mere sight of a pair of clicking heels and barely-visible devil horns turns me into a living heart-eye emoji. I’m not sure where the obsession comes from – I’ve always been too tall for them, and graduated onto horses sharpish when I was a kid. Maybe that’s it; maybe it’s all about wanting what I can’t have, but no matter the root cause, I’m hooked for life. Find me a small thing who can go all the way – Teddy O’Connor, you were my dreamboat – and I will build the pedestal on which it can stand (on its tippy-toes, probably).

Ugh. I die. Look at his teeny weeny earnet, look at his round little pony bum, look at that Werther’s Original coat that only seems to appear on equines under 14hh. The. Dream. I might be competing myself this weekend, but I won’t be thinking about anything except the world’s best eventing ponies in their lil pony war at Bishop Burton.

UK Weekend Preview:

Aston-le-Walls (4): [Ride Times] [Cross-Country Videos]

Hartpury International: [Ride Times] [Website] [Live Scores]

Bishop Burton European Pony Championships: [Website] [Live Stream] [Live Scores]

Bold Heath: [Ride Times] [Website] [Live Scores]

Dalkeith: [Ride Times]

Events Opening this Weekend:

11th: Pontispool (2) – BE80-I with 90RF – [EnterSomerset (September 15-17)

11th: Munstead (2) – BE80-BE100 with 90RF – [EnterSurrey (September 15-16)

12th: Wee Burgie – BE80-N with 100RF – [EnterMoray (September 16)

Events Balloting this Weekend:

11th: Sapey (2) – BE80-N – [EnterHerefordshire (September 1-2)

Friday Video: Pony Power at the Europeans

Of all the major championships, the Pony Europeans gets, perhaps, the least attention. But it shouldn’t: many successful FEI pony riders go on to successful stints in the Junior and Young Rider teams, and plenty of them have gone on to senior careers. And their mounts? All grit, gumption, and a fair helping of that devilish pony spark that propels them over fences bigger than they are. They’re like four-star horses who have shrunk in the wash, and they might be your new favourite thing.

This week, the 2018 Pony Europeans are taking the North of England by storm, and you can keep up with all the action this weekend on their comprehensive live stream. But if you need a bit more convincing to commit, check out this video, showing some of the highlights from the 2014 Championships. If your idea of successful ponies only stretches as far as the hunter divisions, please allow me to blow your mind.

Friday Video and UK Notes from World Equestrian Brands: Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number

Jumping into the weekend

A post shared by Ashley Harvey (@hd_eventing) on

Welcome to Friday, Eventing Nation! With the sticky summer in full swing, it’s yet another weekend-eve on which I’m surrounded by grimy tack, furiously polishing everything in preparation for tomorrow’s competition. The sun is setting and I can hear live music from one of the bars in town, trickling through the trees and down the hill to the farm. Sure, I could be out there, but there’s an early alarm tomorrow and, frankly, I wouldn’t have my weekend start any other way. I know I’m in good company in this brand of madness.

Whether you’re competing, schooling, spectating, or simply having a well-deserved chilled out weekend, enjoy it — I hope the sun continues to shine on your corner of the world.

UK Weekend Preview:

Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing [Website] [Ride Times] [Cross Country Videos]

Hendersyde Park [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Skipton (2) [Website] [Ride Times] [Cross Country Videos]

Events Opening this Weekend:

3rd: Frickley Park (2) – BE80-BE105 – [EnterSouth Yorkshire (September 8-9)

3rd: Frenchfield (2) – BE80-BE105, with BE90RF – [EnterCumbria (September 8-9)*

5th: Burnham Market (2) – BE80-N – [EnterNorfolk (September 9)*

Events Balloting this Weekend:

4th: Wellington – BE100-A with 5yo classes – [EnterHampshire (August 25-27)

Friday Video: Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number

He’s nearing his 80th birthday, but that doesn’t stop racehorse trainer Ron Thompson from running his yard just as he’s always done — with vim, vigour, and above all, a passion for the horses. This week’s Friday video delves into the admirable philosophy of this impressive man, who still rides out the trickiest horses every morning and has the sort of twinkle in his eye that spells the best kind of trouble. His secret? A dram of whiskey before bed — the same tipple of choice as a certain Mr Jung. We don’t want to say that the golden elixir gives you superpowers, but…

Ron Thompson – the 79-year-old who rides out every day and loves the game

A remarkable man – 79-year-old Ron Thompson rides out every single morning, trains from the yard he built himself and still absolutely loves the game. Luke Harvey went to meet him…

Posted by At The Races on Friday, July 27, 2018

 

Friday Video from World Equestrian Brands: The Thunder from Down Under

Paul Tapner and Bonza King of Rouge make easy work of the International arena’s varied terrain to take the win in the MS Amlin Eventers’ Challenge. Photo courtesy of the All England Jumping Course, Hickstead.

It’s a short, sweet, and exceptionally late Friday video for you all this week, chums, as I’ve just spent the better part of two hours chillin’ on the side of the motorway with one very sad, very immobile Peugeot. It sounds like it could be the beginning of a Journey song, but for the fact that it didn’t really result in a meet-cute, just a nice lady with a big rip in the bum of her pyjama bottoms scooping me up and taking me off in search of fuel. Yes, I stranded myself on one of the busiest roads in Britain on a Friday night because I pushed the limits of the little red light. I hang my head in shame.

Anyway, as a result, we’re going to cruise right on to the good stuff today – and what good stuff it is! We’re in the middle of the second Hickstead week of the summer here in the UK, and some of the world’s best showjumpers have descended upon the hallowed turf of the All England Jumping Course to battle it out for Nations Cup and Grand Prix glory. But it’s not all showjumping – yesterday, the eventers got involved, too.

Winner, winner, champagne dinner! Photo courtesy of the All England Jumping Course, Hickstead.

The MS Amlin Eventers’ Challenge is a fast and furious romp around the famous International arena, featuring a modified version of the Derby bank, a devil’s dyke, and a twisty, turny, madcap course of obstacles. This year’s competitors included four-star eventers Georgie Strang and Imogen Murray, as well as up-and-comer Will Rawlin and last year’s winner Paul Tapner.

It was Tapner’s turn to triumph again, riding his four-star mount Bonza King of Rouges.

“I’ve had the last 12 months to prepare myself. I knew exactly how fast I went last year and I knew exactly how much faster I was going to go, and how many fewer strides or extra strides I was going to do between various fences. It was that calculated,” said Taperz, who refers to himself as an ‘elite amateur’ these days, as he spends much of his time working for the Event Rider Masters series.

It doesn’t look like the necessary scaling back of rides has diminished his ability to ride to the clock while under pressure – check out how his round played out, and what he had to do to steal four extra seconds on runner-up Georgie Strang‘s time:

MS Amlin Eventers Challenge

Once, twice, Tapner's a winner: Paul Tapner and Bonza King of Rouges win the MS Amlin Eventers Challenge for the second year in a row.#Longines #Hickstead #SupportYourNation #Safety365

Posted by The All England Jumping Course, Hickstead on Thursday, July 26, 2018

 

 

Legendary Event Horse Ringwood Cockatoo Passes Away at Age 27

In an emotional Facebook statement, Germany’s Bettina Hoy announced today that her two-time four-star winner and Athens Olympics partner Ringwood Cockatoo had been euthanised at the age of 27.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I write this post,” read the statement. “Ringwood Cockatoo decided today that it was time for his last big journey. He gave me the proudest moment of my sporting career and although I don’t have the medal to prove it, to me he will always be the Olympic champion. RIP Cockatoo.

“My biggest thank you goes to Claire Llewelyn, who gave him the most wonderful time and home when he retired from the international circuit.”

Ringwood Cockatoo enjoyed a long and illustrious career at the top level of the sport, winning ten times at the three-star level and twice at four-star, triumphing in the inaugural CCI4* at Luhmühlen in 2005, and at Pau in 2008.

He finished ninth at the Athens Olympics in 2004, and helped his team to a bronze medal at the 2005 European Championships and a gold medal at the 2006 World Equestrian Games. In 2007, he would go on to claim the individual bronze at the Pratoni European Championships.

Bred in Ireland, the reliable first-phase leader was produced to two-star by Switzerland’s Nadine Sola-Perret, before being sold on. He was initially piloted by Bettina’s former husband, Andrew, but the ride was soon passed on to Bettina.

At the time of his retirement, in an emotional ceremony at Boekelo in 2009, Ringwood Cockatoo had amassed an impressive 2,087 British Eventing points, and was, at that point, the most successful German event horse of all time.

He then spent the 2010 season showing young Thai rider Promton Kingwan the ropes at the BE100 (Training) and Novice (Preliminary) levels, before moving back to the UK in 2011 to enjoy his retirement — and plenty of outings to dressage competitions — with Claire Llewelyn, wife of commentator Justin. The Llewelyns had also provided a happy retirement home for Leslie Law‘s late superstar, Shear H20.

Our thoughts are with Bettina, Claire, and all of Ringwood Cockatoo’s connections and admirers.

Friday Video and UK Notes from World Equestrian Brands: Welcome Back, Jonty

Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Even with all the excitement of Aachen and Rebecca Farm (and the NAYC, of course!), there’s been one thing on every member of the eventing communities lips today — Jonty Evans has woken up, at long, long last, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome him back.

There are only a finite number of words in the English language, and none of them come quite close enough to touching upon what it is to lose — however temporarily — a person you care about. For our sprawling eventing family, Jonty is a special sort of figurehead; he has been a true friend to many, a source of support and advice to as many more, and a way into the heart of the sport for several thousand people, who have found themselves welcomed into the inner circle by this incredibly special man.

The last month and a half has been rather like riding a rollercoaster in the dark, sans seatbelt, and I think I can speak for us all when I say that the relief of hearing that Jonty is through the hardest and most uncertain part of the battle is incomprehensibly great.

You have all shown your support so incredibly over the past weeks, with seas of green as far as the eye can see, out eventing and beyond. Let’s continue this support now, and show Jonty just how much we care. There’s a long fight ahead, but with our troops behind him, he will never stand along on the frontline.

UK Weekend Preview:

Aston-le-Walls (3) [Ride Times] [Cross Country Videos]

Little Downham (2) [Ride Times] [Cross Country Videos]

Warwick Hall (3) [Website] [Ride Times]

Launceston [Ride Times]

Events Opening This Weekend:

20th: Keysoe (3) – BE80-I, with 4/5yo classes – [EnterBedfordshire (August 24-26)

20th: Shelford Manor (2) – BE90-N, with 4yo classes and Regional Finals – [EnterNottinghamshire (August 25-26)*

20th: Treborough Hill (2) – BE80-N, with 4/5yo classes – [EnterSomerset (August 25-26)

21st: Wellington – BE100-A, with 5yo classes – [EnterHampshire (August 25-27)

Events Balloting This Weekend:

21st: Bold Heath  – BE80-N, with 4/5yo classes – [EnterCheshire (August 11-12)

21st: Dalkeith (2) – BE80-I – [EnterEdinburgh (August 11-12)

Friday Video: 

To celebrate the first huge hurdle overcome in Jonty’s recovery, our Friday video this week is this compilation, put together by the donor group Art’s Amazing Family, and part-owner of Cooley Rorkes Drift, Fred Moss. While their Badminton may not have gone to plan, for the extensive family surrounding one man and his horse, just to be there was an incredibly emotive experience. The Family, both within the donor group, and the wider eventing community, will be behind you every step of the way, Jonty — just as we were last year. Keep kicking on.

Friday News and UK Notes from World Equestrian Brands: Life with Laura Collett

When you’re a freelance equestrian journalist, you kind of give up on the traditional concept of that ‘Friday feeling.’ Fridays, after all, are usually spent on the frontline, trekking across collecting rings and calculating PBs at events, with the busiest – and best – part of the week yet to come. Sometimes they’re spent at home, desk-bound, getting as much written as possible to accommodate an outing the following week. Or, sometimes, you end up doing a rather different job, all in the name of equestrian media.

Such has been my Friday. Horse&Rider magazine arranged to use our yard – the lovely Littleton Manor, based just south of London – for two days of cover- and feature-shoots, and today, my #supermeah Arabella and I were roped in to model for a training feature. Want to find the holes in your schooling with incredible clarity? Try to demonstrate ‘what the judge wants to see’ – you’ll find them really quickly. After a few minor disagreements about how certain (formerly easy!) movements should be executed, we were well on our way, and Bells even got the chance to pose for the cover of the magazine – so if you need me, I’ll be working on subduing the rapidly-inflating ego attached to a certain Queen of Sass. Just another day in the office, tbh.

UK Weekend Preview:

Stafford (2) [Ride Times]

Eridge [Website] [Ride Times]

Forgandenny (2) [Ride Times]

Northallerton (2) [Website] [Ride Times]

Events Opening this Weekend:

13th: Somerford Park International (2) – BE100-CIC2* – [EnterCheshire (August 17-19)

13th: Bicton Arena International (3) – BE100-CIC2* – [EnterDevon (August 17-19)

13th: Firle Place International – BE90-CIC1* – [EnterEast Sussex (August 18-19)

14th: Solihull (2) – BE80-N – [EnterWest Midlands (August 18-19)

14th: Cumwhinton – BE80-N, with 4- and 5yo classes – [EnterCarlisle (August 18-19)

Events Balloting this Weekend:

14th: Skipton (2) – BE80-N – [EnterNorth Yorkshire (August 4-5)

Friday Video: Life in the Balance with Laura Collett

In the latest of the Event Rider Masters‘ series of short videos, we get to know Laura Collett, who held the series lead until she was usurped by Chris Burton last weekend at Barbury. Find out how she got bitten by the eventing bug, and meet her up-and-coming superstars London 52 and Dacapo. Then, don’t forget to head over to the ERM website tomorrow, as the penultimate leg of the 2018 series kicks off at Jardy!

The next in our Life in the Balance Series features Laura Collett who was pipped to the top of the 2018 ERM Series leader board by Chris Burton last week…Can she regain it here at Haras de Jardy? We’re pretty fond of this one 🙌🏻

Posted by Event Rider Masters on Friday, July 13, 2018

Comeback Kings and Queens Reign Supreme at Barbury

Tom Carlile and Upsilon successfully defend their Barbury ERM title. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“He has almost too much talent for a rough sport like this,” mused France’s Tom Carlile, looking back at an up-and-down season with his much-admired Upsilon. Just hours later, that talent would come good at a pivotal moment.

Few could deny the Selle Francais stallion’s raw ability and charisma, but a spate of bad luck, starting in the latter half of the 2017 season, cast some doubts about Upsilon’s consistency. Those were cast aside this weekend, as the pair claimed a seemingly effortless win, for the second year running, in Barbury’s Event Rider Masters CIC3*.

Tom Carlile reasserts his dominance at Barbury. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

So how did they do it? At face value, three ways:

  • A “relaxed…maybe a bit too casual” dressage test, which scored a 24.9 and earned them the joint-lead, shared with Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night.
  • A clear showjumping round over one of the most fiendishly difficult ERM showjumping tests yet, with the average round costing over 11 penalties, and plenty sailing past the 30 mark.
  • A quick, confident charge across the country, adding just 1.2 time penalties to preclude another characteristic FOD, but good enough to take the win by a margin of nearly three points.

After Upsilon’s win in this class last year, it was a last-minute tactical manouevre to bring the horse back. A disappointing Arville had seen the pair come to grief in both jumping phases, before opting to retire on course and reroute.

“It was a superb win last year – all stats aside – and I felt that the horse really liked Barbury,” explained Carlile. “After Arville, I needed to get him confident and bring him somewhere he got a good feeling, with a clear course. Even though the course has been beefed up this year, it was still right. By the time he jumped fence five [the SAP Brush with Technology – a chunk brush fence with a sharp downhill incline on a curving line to a skinny arrowhead], it showed the mood he was in. If he was going to have any issues on course, we’d have seen it there.”

Tom Carlile and Upsilon. Photo by William Carey.

Upsilon, who has finished in the top five in fourteen of his seventeen international runs, made his squad debut for France at last year’s European Championships – but the week didn’t go to plan, and the then-nine-year-old was eliminated for accumulated refusals on cross country day.

“He had a severe bone oedema in his fetlock after the Europeans, and it really took until April to get him back to normal. His first competition back was at Houghton Hall CCI2*, and when he won that, I decided to enter him in Arville’s ERM. But our mistakes there just showed a lack of match practice – this is the only horse I have at this level, and when you have a yard full of youngsters and kick around at Novice, and only do a three-star every three months, it really shows.”

Tom Carlile and Upsilon. Photo by Anna Franklin.

With injury rehabilitation came extra training considerations, as Carlile strategically rebuilt Upsilon’s bruised confidence following their trip to Strzegom. To do so, he enlisted the help of French team coach Thierry Touzaint.

“Thierry had us schooling lots of skinnies on a surface while I was bringing him back,” said Carlile. “He was really able to put his finger on what was going on. He’s been great to work with – he really appreciates the horse, and I think he quite likes me, too!”

Tom Carlile and Upsilon. Photo by Ben Clark.

Just over a year into their exciting partnership, Gemma Tattersall and Clive Smith’s Pamero 4 made a steady climb up the leaderboard to finish in second place, adding just 1.6 time penalties to their dressage score to finish on 28.8. This is the first podium appearance this season for last year’s series winner, and the eleven-year-old Hanoverian’s first international run since making his Badminton debut earlier this year, where he finished 22nd.

“At last! It’s taken a little while, but we’re back. He was mega today, I’m so happy with him,” beamed Tattersall. “He’s been feeling absolutely awesome, so I was feeling quietly confident coming here. Badminton did him the world of good – I rode him there with time faults very much in mind and didn’t try to make the time, and that approach has really brought him on. Here, I found that he didn’t empty on me.”

Gemma Tattersall and Pamero 4 celebrate a fruitful first year together. Photo by Ben Clark.

Pamero 4 has created something of a management quandary for Tattersall and her team, who have tried a plethora of tricks to try to get the poor-doer to eat and maintain condition. But, says Tattersall, he seems to have turned a corner since his spring four-star.

“He’s eaten all week here, and even ate his breakfast this morning, even though it’s cross-country day,” said Tattersall. “He lives out now – he and Arctic Soul go out next to each other on quite a steep hill, and it sounds mad, but I really think being on that hill has helped. He has to walk up and down it, which helps the fitness, he’s relaxed because he’s out, and he just eats grass all the time.”

Chris Burton and Polystar finish on the podium yet again. Photo by Anna Franklin.

It was another weekend on the podium for Arville leg winners Chris Burton and Polystar I, who recorded the only clear round inside the time across the country. The ‘fastest man in the world’ was full of praise for the thirteen-year-old Westphalian, who he produced to CIC3*, claiming the non-Masters CIC3* at Barbury in 2016 on the horse’s first attempt at the level. Despite this, Burton wasn’t interested in keeping the ride on the sales horse, and he passed the ride over to Irish show jumper David Simpson, who competed him in CSI2* and CSI4* classes throughout 2016. Then, in 2017, Trisha Rickards – perhaps best known for owning Jonelle Price‘s CCI4* winners Classic Moet and Faerie Dianimo – stepped in to secure the horse.

After taking 2017 out, Polystar has been back with a vengeance this year, and as the excitement unfolded in the ERM class, it looked as though he’d set an unmatchable precedent. In the end, they would finish third in the hotly-contested section.

Chris Burton and Polystar I. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“I’m really excited about Polystar, because he really feels like a cross-country horse now – he knows the job and he looks for the flags,” said Burton. “It was a privilege to be on a horse like that – everyone says I’m a fast rider, but it’s all about the horses. I’ve been lucky to sit on some incredible horses.”

With three top-ten ERM finishes under his belt so far this season, Polystar is proving a worthy purchase for Rickards: “he was bought to do the ERMs with, and what a horse he is for it,” said Burton.

Flora Harris and Bayano log one of the few clear showjumping rounds of the day. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Flora Harris and Bayano climbed four places to finish fourth, adding just 8.4 time penalties to their dressage score of 29.1, while Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night, joint leaders after the first phase, dropped to fifth after adding a pole and a handful of time faults.

“He just ran on a bit with me in the ring, so we had that pole – although I’d rather an enthusiastic pole than time penalties in there,” mused Halliday-Sharp.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The showjumping proved the most influential phase of the weekend, with only seven clear rounds out of 36 starters. The Barbury showjumping is always tricky – with its sharply-angled hill, it rides almost like a Derby course – but this year was particularly challenging, with a tight time of 84 seconds and a serious of variable distances that meant riders had to think on their feet at all times. Cricket scores abounded; Jonelle PriceTom McEwenGinny Thompson and Louise Harwood each racked up more than 30 penalties over the poles, while a further eight competitors added more than 10.

Oliver Townend and Cillnabradden Evo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Some of these took everyone by surprise, such as clear round machine Cillnabradden Evo, who, with rider Oliver Townend, had been sitting third after dressage. A totally uncharacteristic 20 showjumping penalties dropped them right out of contention, and they withdrew before cross country.

Laura Collett and Dacapo on their way to eventual ninth. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

In fact, the field thinned considerably before the final phase began, and only 22 of an original 38 starters went forward to cross-country. High-profile withdrawals included Mark ToddSam GriffithsWilliam Fox-PittSarah Cohen and Blyth Tait, who opted to save their horses for another, perhaps less sweltering, day.

Andrew Nicholson and Swallow Springs jump through the Devoucoux Stonehenge fence. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The cross country proved to be less influential than its predecessor, with six of the 22 starts picking up jumping penalties or failing to complete the course. One of these was Andrew Nicholson, the King of Barbury, who took a surprise tumble late on course from Swallow Springs. Elsewhere, time faults abounded as horses and riders criss-crossed the bowl in sweltering temperatures.

The Barbury 2018 ERM podium: Chris Burton (3rd), Tom Carlile (1st), and Gemma Tattersall (2nd). Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The final leaderboard shook up the current series standings – leader Laura Collett‘s ninth-place finish wasn’t quite enough to hold the top spot, and Chris Burton becomes the series leader going into the fifth leg at Jardy. Laura slips just one spot into second, while last year’s series winner, Gemma Tattersall, moves up into third place.

Gemma Tattersall douses Tom Carlile with champagne atop the podium. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Nicola Wilson and Bulana claimed the win in the non-Masters CIC3*, heading a British top-three and enjoying a return to form after their Luhmuehlen campaign ended on course.

“It’s been a difficult spring,” she said. “Just as the weather started to improve and we could actually get out competing, I fell off and injured my knee. I tried really hard to get back in time for Luhmuehlen, but Bulana is a very sensitive horse, and I’m the one who does all the work with her at home, so it just didn’t work out.”

Nicola Wilson and Bulana take Barbury. Photo by William Carey.

Wilson, who has been long-listed for the World Equestrian Games with Bulana, knew that a good result here would boost their chances of selection, but “I’m quite good at compartmentalising, so I don’t really think about the pressure. Instead, I just thought about what I needed to do in each phase, and did it. With cross country, my aim was to go out a little bit steady, and if she was polite, then she could run on a bit. And that’s what happened, so long may it continue – it’s a huge relief to be back.”

And so the sun set on another glorious Barbury, resplendent in its endless sunshine and open skies and REALLY BAD SUNBURNS. Stay safe out there, kids. Use suncream. Don’t be an idiot.

Lots of love,

Your faithful UK correspondent, currently drowning in a vat of aftersun, and whinging heavily.

The Barbury ERM top ten.

The Barbury non-Masters CIC3* top ten.

Barbury links: Website, Live Scores, ERM Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

St James’ Place Barbury CIC3* Course Preview

The Devoucoux Stonehenge fence at 16. Photo courtesy of CrossCountryApp.

Captain Mark Phillips’ Barbury course is a spectator favourite — set in a sprawling natural amphitheatre, it’s possible to see the entirety of the course from one spot, and with its thoughtful touches (a jumpable Stonehenge, anyone?!) it makes for fantastic viewing. For horses and riders, it offers plenty to do — set on a camber, and with plenty of twists and turns, the time is always influential here.

This year, Phillips has reversed the course, which will now finish in the main arena for the ERM class. Due to the rather spectacular heatwave that England has been experiencing, the ground crews have also been hard at work, ensuring that the footing will be in great nick for today’s competitors.

The Keyflow Water Splash at 24. Photo courtesy of CrossCountryApp.

Scroll down for a full preview of the CIC3* cross country course, courtesy of CrossCountryApp and Event Rider Masters. Non-Masters cross country begins at 11.00am BST/6.00am EST, while the ERM cross country begins at 2.15pm BST/9.00am EST. Don’t forget that you can follow along with all of the ERM action through their free livestream, beginning at 11.00am BST/6.00am EST.

Go Eventing!

Barbury links: Website, Live Scores, ERM Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Barbury ERM: Liz-Halliday Sharp Ties for Dressage Lead

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night take joint ownership of the top spot in Barbury’s ERM class. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Fresh off the back of last month’s Arville ERM leg, at which Liz Halliday-Sharp withdrew the 15-year-old Fernhill By Night, the pair produced a top-class test at Barbury to joint-lead the Event Rider Masters class after the dressage.

“We went from what was probably our worst score to one of our best,” said Liz after her final score of 24.9 was confirmed. “I’m so thrilled – ‘Blackie’ can be a very lazy horse, and since our test at Arville, which wasn’t great, I’ve worked very hard to get him in his happy place. He really enjoyed himself in there and deserved the score. This is where we’d like him to be all the time.”

Tom Carlile and Upsilon. Photo by Ben Clark/ERM.

The pair were followed into the ring by France’s Tom Carlile and his stallion Upsilon, with whom he won this leg last year and set the ERM dressage record of 20.5. Hot favourites for the top spot, they produced a typically expressive test, but some minor errors precluded them from matching last year’s score. Instead, they landed on a final score of 24.9 – tied with Liz, and creating a match-race for tomorrow’s jumping phases.

“I suppose, if I have to tie with anyone, Upsilon will do,” laughed Liz.

Tom Carlile and Upsilon hold the joint lead in the ERM. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The Anglo-Arab, like Fernhill By Night, comes to Barbury after a disappointing Arville, and Carlile was pleased to finish the first day in a competitive position, despite the dropped marks.

“He got a little too relaxed in the ring and had a little mistake,” he explained. “He warmed up quickly and was really swinging through his back, and then I went in and he felt a bit casual but I didn’t want to kick him along like a pony.”

Upsilon’s work improved throughout the test, and Carlile even enjoyed a loud cheer from the crowd during the horse’s extended canter – although even the Frenchman was forced to admit that the cheer was actually for England’s football team, merrily trouncing Sweden metres away on the big screen.

The final rider into the ring was one of the class’s hot favourites. Oliver Townend and Cillnabradden Evo are something of ERM specialists, winning two legs and finishing runner up once together since the series’ inception. They, too, had come home from Arville empty-handed after retiring on course, and breaking a six-strong streak of first- and second-place finishes in international competitions.

“He’s allowed a blip occasionally. We know each other well, and he’s normally reliable and consistent, so he’ll be back to that,” said Oli. Today, they delivered a 25.3, missing out on the top spot by less than half a point.

“I was very pleased with him. He did pretty much his best job; he’s obviously not as flash as Upsilon, so coming in right after him, we just did the best we could.”

Nicola Wilson and One Two Many’s boldness is rewarded with a great score. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Already a leader in the non-Masters CIC3* aboard BulanaNicola Wilson held the ERM lead for the early part of the afternoon with One Two Many, on a score of 26.4.

“I’m thrilled with him – he was such a good boy,” she enthused. “He has so much ability in the dressage arena, but sometimes he can just say, ‘ooh, look what I can do!’ Now we just have to look ahead to the jumping – there’s always a lot to do at Barbury.”

Sarah Cohen and Treason deliver the goods. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Sarah Cohen and Treason delivered one of their best-ever scores at the level to round out the top five overnight. Sarah, who downsized her operation from eventing professionally to campaigning just her top horse ‘Mr T’, focuses on ERM classes and won 2017’s Wiesbaden leg. This helped to earn her a place on the end-of-series podium.

“When I went down the centreline, I felt I really had him with me,” she said of her test today. “When he’s with me, he’s very good at dressage. We changed our warm-up routine today, too – because it was so hot, I didn’t do more than 15 minutes, but it seemed to work for us.”

It wasn’t to be a day of top marks for everyone – mistakes and moments of tension could be found amongst many of the tests, with only nine combinations scoring sub-30. There was also a surprising early end to the competition for one pair – Izzy Taylor and Director General were eliminated for prolonged disobedience after the horse began to spin and rear at length in the arena.

Tomorrow, both the ERM and the non-Masters CIC3* move into the jumping phases, with each class taking to Barbury’s famous banked main arena in the morning, before heading out to the amphitheatre. We’ll be bringing you all the action as it happens – stay tuned!

The top ten in Barbury’s ERM CIC3* after dressage.

Barbury links: Website, Live Scores, ERM Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Friday Video and UK Notes from World Equestrian Brands: Barbury and Beyond

Alex Hua Tian and Don Geniro in the Barbury CIC3*. Photo by William Carey.

Welcome to the (almost) weekend! It’s a seriously exciting one no matter which side of the pond you find yourself on — Stateside, the Great Meadows Nations Cup kicks off tomorrow, and over here, we’re stuck into Barbury CIC3* and ERM. Spoiled? Yes. Grateful? Always. Writing a Barbury report to the dulcet tones of an ABBA tribute band? Okay, maybe just me.

UK Weekend Preview:

St James Place Barbury International Horse Trials [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores] [EN’s Coverage]

Buckminster Park [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Tweseldown (3) [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Bicton Arena (2) [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Kirriemuir (2) [Website] [Ride Times]

Events Opening this Weekend:

7th: Bold Heath – BE80-N – [EnterCheshire (August 11-12)

7th: Dalkeith (2) – BE80-I – [EnterEdinburgh, Scotland (August 11-12)

Events Balloting this Weekend:

6th: Calmsden (1) – BE80-BE100 – [EnterGloucestershire (July 28-29)

6th: Chilham Castle (2) – BE80-N, CIC1*, including 4/5yo classes – [EnterKent (July 28-29)*

6th: Frickley Park – BE80-CCI1* – [EnterSouth Yorkshire (July 27-29)

7th: Cholmondeley Castle – BE90-I – [EnterCheshire (July 28-29)*

Friday Video: 

 

 

 

Nicola Wilson and Bulana Are Best in Barbury CIC3* Dressage

Sunshine, Stonehenge (sort of), and top-class sport – welcome to Barbury. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The St James’ Place Barbury Horse Trials CIC3* is hot. In every sense of the word. In the middle of (apparently) sub-Saharan Wiltshire, the popular event attracts some of the world’s biggest names — and their celebrity-status horses — while the mercury reliably rises until the venue is awash with spectators, draped woozily over the viewing banks like Salvador Dali’s overcooked brainfarts. Perhaps that doesn’t make it sound quite as undeniably delightful as it is — but it really, really is. Artfully placed in a natural amphitheatre in the rolling countryside, its criss-crossing course can be viewed in full from any spot (including, as it happens, the bar), and the entire event fairly beams in the sunshine. It’s English summer at its finest and rarest, and it never disappoints.

Nicola Wilson and Bulana hold onto their first-day lead. Photo by William Carey.

Today, as Novice competitors on course created a vibrant and ever-changing backdrop, the CIC3* dressage came to its conclusion in the main arena. Leading the way by the tiniest margin of 0.1 penalties are Great Britain’s Nicola Wilson and her WEG long-listed mare Bulana, on 25.2. The talented 12-year-old finished second at Luhmühlen in 2017, before claiming individual bronze at the Strzegom Europeans, but their spring season has been slightly less consistent: the pair finished 16th at Houghton CIC3*, before leading after the first two phases in Bramham’s CIC3*. They then withdrew before cross country in preparation for Luhmühlen CCI4*, where the historically strong horse picked up 40 penalties before Wilson opted to retire on course. This weekend’s result will be crucial for their team selection chances — a top placing would make them a formidable option for Great Britain.

Alex Hua Tian and Don Geniro. Photo by William Carey.

Narrowly behind them is China’s Alex Hua Tian, who rides top horse Don Geniro. ‘The Don’ produced a 25.3 after a settled and accurate test, devoid of some of the tension that has earned him the joking moniker of ‘Psycho Don’ in the past. This is to be his second international of 2018 — his first, in Tattersalls CCI3* in May, ended with a retirement on cross country day, but he’s finished in the top 20 here before.

Secondary to the actual competition leaderboard is the high-speed tanning leaderboard. Team GB performance manager Dickie Waygood, right, is set for some seriously uneven arms. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

William Fox-Pitt and Fernhill Pimms sit comfortably in third place going into the jumping phases on a score of 26.4. The 14-year-old gelding, one of Fox-Pitt’s ‘classic’ string, has had an early season of mixed fortunes: he failed to complete Badminton earlier this year, but then went on to finish 4th in Chatsworth’s CIC3*. His Bramham was somewhat less successful — a missed flag dropped the pair right out of contention, and they finished 48th despite an otherwise impressive performance — but Fox-Pitt won this class last year aboard Clifton Signature, poignantly marking his return to form after his serious head injury in 2015, and a return to the top of the leaderboard would be a boon for his stalwart campaigner.

The #WearGreenForJonty campaign hits Barbury. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Our turbulent sport is often defined by its heady mix of ups, downs, and emotional comebacks, and as the action unfolds, Jonty Evans is never far from anyone’s mind. Though it might create a logistical nightmare for stewards and fence judges alike, it’s been a heartening sight to spot a sea of green in the crowd and across the course, as the community embraces the #WearGreenForJonty campaign. The campaign doesn’t just aim to show support as Evans recovers from a head injury sustained at Tattersalls, it’s also raising funds for the David Foster Injured Riders’ Fund, which offers funding and support after debilitating accidents. If you’re on site at Barbury, you can pick up a wristband, car sticker, polo top, or belt from Eventing Worldwide’s table by the main arena, or you can show your support online.

Are you ready for Leg 4 Barbury? Series Leader Laura Collett is! 💪🏻Tune in from 09.35am BST Saturday 8th July LIVE and for FREE on www.eventridermasters.tv 🙌🏻

Posted by Event Rider Masters on Friday, July 6, 2018

The weather isn’t the only thing heating up this weekend. Tomorrow brings us day one of the fourth leg of the Event Rider Masters series, with a suitably star-studded line-up competing for valuable points toward a spot on the final podium. Current series leader Laura Collett returns with Dacapo to defend her position, and last years’ winners Tom Carlile and Upsilon go head to head with Oliver Townend and Cilnabradden Evo. Each will be looking to add a third ERM win to their tally. Elsewhere in the line-up, stalwart superstars Happy Times, ridden by Sam GriffithsBay My Hero, ridden by William Fox-Pitt, and One Two Many, ridden by Nicola Wilson, prepare to challenge for a place atop the leaderboard. We’re excited to cheer on our two U.S. representatives, too — Liz Halliday-Sharp brings forward Fernhill by Night, while Tiana Coudray rides Under the Clocks, with whom she scooped seventh place in the CIC3* here last year.

The ERM dressage kicks off at 10.07am BST/5.07am EST, with all of the action livestreamed on the Event Rider Masters website as well as on their Facebook page. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved, too — make sure you download the SAP Judging and Stacks apps to play along, make predictions, and compete for fantastic prizes as the competition unfolds. Need any more mental preparation? Check out this whirlwind preview of all the excitement yet to come….

Beautiful Barbury ✨Where will you be watching?www.eventridermasters.tv

Posted by Event Rider Masters on Friday, July 6, 2018

We’ll be back with all the latest from the St James’ Place Barbury Horse Trials tomorrow — in the meantime, Go Eventing!

The top ten after dressage in Barbury’s CIC3*.

Barbury links: Website, Live Scores, ERM Live Stream, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

Friday Video and UK Notes from World Equestrian Brands: The Cavalry On Tour

#WearGreenForJonty CALLING ALL EVENTING FAMILY PLEASE TAG AND SHARE Whilst we are all still taking in the news of @jontyeventing stable but non changing condition this week, we at Eventing Worlwide thought we would do something positive to show our support by asking all of our eventing family to please wear something green. Starting this Saturday 30th June and throughout July. Whether you are out competing XC or just out supporting the sport – put on something green and get into the Irish Spirit!! Headed up by our very own blogger Alice Dunsdon – Alice hopes that during the month of July, we all show our support for Jonty and go green on the course. “We all know the eventing community is such a close family group, and when anyone has a fall or an injury we all feel it, so when it happens to one of our Sports legends we must all get together and show our support for him and his family. Change your hat silk, change your base layer, put a green numnah or browband on, it doesnt matter what, just 'Wear Green for Jonty" Please also post up pictures so his family can feel the support with the hashtag #WearGreenForJonty

A post shared by Eventing Worldwide (@eventingworldwide) on

The plight of Irish eventer Jonty Evans is never far from anyone’s mind at the moment, and we all want to show our support in any way we can. That’s why we’re excited to join in with Eventing World Wide’s #WearGreenForJonty initiative. The idea is simple: swap your regular cross-country colours for something green while you’re out competing over the next month. Or, if you’re spectating, volunteering, or grooming, add a bit of the luck o’ the Irish into your wardrobe. We’d love to see your photos, and will have cameras at the ready at next weekend’s Barbury International to catch the movement in all its glory.

UK Weekend Preview:

Great Witchingham International [Ride Times]

Chepstow [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Aske [Ride Times] [Cross Country Videos]

Brightling Park International [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores] [Cross Country Videos]

Eland Lodge (2) [Website] [Ride Times]

Off church Bury [Ride Times]

Hopetoun [Ride Times]

Events Opening this Weekend:

30th: Skipton (2) – BE80-N – [EnterNorth Yorkshire (August 4-5) *

Events Balloting this Weekend:

29th: Warwick Hall (3) – BE80-N – [EnterCumbria (July 21-22)

29th: Aston-le-Walls (3) – N-A – [EnterNorthamptonshire (July 20-22) *

1st: Little Downham (2) – BE80-N – [EnterCambridgeshire (July 21-22) *

Friday Video: Cavalry Horses on Tour

There are a few classic harbingers of summer: crisp, slightly wonky tanlines, evening drinks awash in golden light, early eventing mornings, and, if you live in the east of England, the Household Cavalry’s annual sojourn to Norfolk’s Holkham Beach.

The Household Cavalry undertakes a seriously demanding day-to-day job: stationed in central London, they take part in regimental parades, guard duties, and ceremonial processions (yes, including the Royal Wedding). This means that they have to be able to cope with busy city traffic, sudden noises, crowded streets, and the attentions of interested tourists, as well as – in some cases – genuine threats to their safety. As such, it’s incredibly important that a high level of trust and communication is fostered between the horses – known as Cavalry Blacks – and their riders.

A month-long summer trip to coastal Norfolk is the making of these relationships. Each year, horses and riders descend upon Holkham Beach – one of the UK’s most popular beaches – to ride, play, and enjoy one another’s company, on the seashore and in the waves. The trip not only builds confidence for both horse and rider, it also provides a hugely beneficial way of improving fitness without the stress of roadwork. When the troops return to London, they do so happy, healthy, and ready to tackle any challenge. If it works for them, it must work for us mere mortals!

We know you'll love this video just as much as we did when we received it this afternoon!•Visitors to the museum have been loving seeing the horses and @household_cavalry on the beaches in Norfolk•Videos like this help us inform the public about where the Cavalry are when the hordes of tourists come and expect to see the red or blue tunics and shining breast plates on duty at Horse Guards!

Posted by The Household Cavalry Museum and Shop on Thursday, June 28, 2018

 

Friday Video and UK Notes from World Equestrian Brands: Danger Mouse Delivers

Alright, gang, hands up if you’re still bopping around in a delirious haze of #girlpower glee, after that serious lady takeover at Luhmuhlen last weekend? I took a break from horsey life the night before cross country (commonly known by muggles, apparently, as ‘Friday night’) to go see Beyonce and Jay-Z in concert in London, and you’d better believe I was thinking about sassy gals storming around four-stars during Who Run the World. I know that some might argue that the fixation on girlpower is a trite one, considering our sport is so fantastically progressive – as we all know, it’s only in the equestrian disciplines that Olympic athletes of any gender compete on equal terms, and women are every bit as successful as their male counterparts. But I, for one, won’t stop shouting from the rooftops about their successes – our gender equality sets an enormous precedent for the wider sporting world, and I want them to see just how tough, and talented, and capable women are. Who better to demonstrate that than fierce, feisty icons of the sport like Jonelle Price?

We’ve got another jam-packed weekend of eventing coming up in the UK, and this week, we’re excited to have teamed up with An Eventful Life, who travel around the country filming competitors’ entire cross-country rounds. We’ve included links for the competitions they’ll be at this week, so check back after your event to find your video! You’ll be able to spot forthcoming AEL events in the opening/balloting lists, too – these are marked with a cheeky little asterisk.

UK Weekend Preview:

Keysoe (2) [Website] [Ride Times] [Competitor Videos]

Skipton [Website] [Ride Times] [Competitor Videos]

Treborough Hill [Website] [Ride Times]

Farley Hall [Ride Times]

Alnwick Ford [Ride Times]

Events Opening This Weekend:

21st: Burgham – BE90-N, CIC1*, CIC2*, CIC3*, including 4/5yo classes – [EnterNorthumberland (July 27-29)

22nd: Frickley Park – BE80-CCI1* – [EnterSouth Yorkshire (July 27-29)

22nd: Chilham Castle (2) – BE80-N, CIC1*, including 4/5yo classes – [EnterKent (July 28-29)*

22nd: Calmsden – BE80-BE100 – [EnterGloucestershire (July 28-29)

23rd: Wilton – BE100-I – [EnterWiltshire (July 28-29)

23rd: Cholmondeley Castle – BE90-I – [EnterCheshire (July 28-29)*

Events Balloting This Weekend:

22nd: Stafford (2) – BE80-BE100, including 4/5yo classes – [EnterStaffordshire (July 13-15)

22nd: Forgandenny (2) – BE80-N – [EnterPerthshire, Scotland (July 14-15)

23rd: Northallerton (2) – BE80-BE105 – [Enter] North Yorkshire (July 14-15)

Flashback Friday Video: Team USA Shows Houghton Who’s Boss

Speaking of girlpower, we’re all still revelling in the amazing performances the Team USA girls put in at Houghton International last month to scoop second place in the Nations Cup, despite fielding just  a three person team. One of those rounds was delivered by the formidable Caroline Martin, who fairly flew around the testing track on Danger Mouse to help secure the podium position. Check out how they did it, courtesy of An Eventful Life:

Whether you’re in the saddle or on the sidelines this weekend, Go Eventing!

 

Friday Video and UK Notes from World Equestrian Brands: Eventers Take Bolesworth

Where has this year gone? It feels like just yesterday that we were moaning endlessly about the million-and-one event cancellations that effectively precluded any early-season runs, and now we find ourselves smack in the middle of the third four-star of the year, and what we Brits unanimously refer to as ‘Pimms weather.’ If you don’t know what that is — Americans, I’m looking at you — I suggest you find a specialist booze distributor and find out. Your life — and your approach to going eventing — will never be the same.

We’ve got an enormously busy weekend ahead of us here in the UK, with six events taking place around the country — fortunately, if there’s one thing eventers are great at, it’s multitasking, so the Luhmuehlen live stream will be getting a jolly good workout despite some pesky fences getting in the way.

UK Weekend Preview:

Nunney International [Website] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Rackham [Ride Times]

Catton Park [Ride Times]

Stratford Hills [Ride Times]

Warwick Hall (2) [Website] [Ride Times]

Burgie [Ride Times]

Events Opening This Weekend:

15th: Aston-le-Walls (3) – N-A – [EnterNorthamptonshire (July 20-22)

15th: Launceston – BE80-BE100 – [Enter] Cornwall (July 22)

15th: Warwick Hall (3) – BE80-N – [EnterCumbria (July 21-22)

16th: Little Downham (2) – BE90-N – [EnterCambridgeshire (July 21-22)

Events Balloting This Weekend:

15th: Kirriemuir (2) – BE80-N, with 4/5yo classes – [EnterAngus, Scotland (July 8)

15th: Buckminster Park (2) – BE100-N, plus 5yo – [EnterLincolnshire (July 7-8)

16th: Tweseldown (3) – BE80-IN, with 4/5yo classes – [EnterHampshire (July 7-9)

Friday video: Eventers steal the limelight at Bolesworth

Luhmuehlen isn’t the only high-profile competition taking place this weekend — in the (contentious) north of England, the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show is in full swing. Known for its top-notch showjumping and dressage, sideline extreme motor sports entertainment, and, um, ‘Club Boles’, the exceptionally cheeky on-site party, it’s one of the UK’s best, and most luxurious, horsey getaways. This year, they’ve invited the eventing fraternity along for the party too, with the Eventers Grand Prix relay challenge. Top eventers paired up with the best in the showjumping business to lay down some lightning fast rounds in and out of the international arena — check out how it played out!

We are live from The Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show with CMH.TV Great Britain!Watch the Cazenove Capital Eventing Grand Prix here or the rest of the show at https://bolesworthinternational.com/live-streamorwatch.clipmyhorse.tv/bolesworthTickets are still available on the gate!#BIHS2018 #Bolesworth #Dressage #Showjumping #Family #Cheshire #eventing

Posted by The Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show on Thursday, June 14, 2018