There’s nothing like getting bucked-off in warm-up and still going on to win. That’s exactly what happened to Hannah Sue Burnett in this morning’s CIC3* show jumping warm-up at Red Hills International Horse Trials, when Harbour Pilot couldn’t quite contain his boisterousness and dumped her on the ground.
Fellow competitor Lisa Barry caught him, Hannah hopped back on, and then went in the ring to jump a clear round. “Sometimes he needs to be a little bit crazy, and then he’s really well behaved,” Hannah said. And isn’t that the hallmark of a good event horse?
“We’ve really been focusing on show jumping over the last year,” Hannah added. “It’s nice for him to have a bit of a disturbance in the warm-up and then go in the ring and jump fantastic. He was really trying.”
Hannah and Harbour Pilot retained their lead with a clear show jumping round and then sealed the deal with a clear cross country trip to win on 54.9.
“He was nice and easy and fun on cross country,” Hannah said. “In the cross country warm-up, where he’s usually really nervous and excited, he was really quiet. And then he cantered around really nice, so I was happy with him.”
Last year Hannah took a lighter approach in her preparation for a spring CCI4*, and this year she’s decided to run Harbour Pilot once more in the CIC3* at Carolina International before going on to Badminton Horse Trials.
As for their run today: “He’s an experienced horse, and I got to cruise around on him and enjoy it. I had a blast.”
Jennie Brannigan and Tim and Nina Gardner’s Cambalda hadn’t competed in an FEI event since 2015, and he looked back to his old self this weekend, easily jumping around to finish second in the CIC3* on 66.9.
“I honestly have to say that it’s great to have Ping back. He’s been a really wonderful horse for me and my career. The last year and a half has been about focusing on the future and producing other horses, and I feel very lucky that I can still focus on the other horses and have Ping come out and do well at this level,” Jennie said.
“He felt a little bit rusty this weekend, but he felt great cross country. It’s honestly probably one of the best rounds he’s had. It’s like riding a good old friend.”
Cambalda will next go on to Carolina International, and then Jennie said she will decide with the Gardners what’s next for his future. “He’s a horse that doesn’t owe me anything, and all I care about really is him being happy, and that’s all they care about as well.”
Bentley’s Best jumped around like a little warrior today in a super impressive performance that saw him finish third on 69.6, and Jessica Phoenix agreed that “Benny” has stepped up his game this year.
“All weekend long, he was just so much fun,” Jessie said. “I love riding him, and he just feels like a new man this year. He’s strong and he’s playing at the level, which is so cool when you have a horse like that.”
All three ladies agreed that Mike Etherington-Smith’s course wasn’t an easy ask by any means, and especially when jumping into the combinations your game plan could change in a split second.
“With the distances you had to seriously wait to see how your horse jumped in and make a decision, so you had plan A, B, C and D and sometimes you ended up further down the list,” Jessie said. “I think it was just riding off of your instinct, and my horse came out and jumped really well and felt confident.”
Click here to catch up on the full report from the CIC3* action at Red Hills, and stay tuned for more. Go Eventing.