Camphire Showcases Irish Horses and Hospitality

Ireland's Sam Watson on Horseware Lukeswell on their way to first place in the CIC3* at Camphire international Horse Trials. Photo courtesy of Dan McGrath/Editorial Images. Ireland's Sam Watson on Horseware Lukeswell on their way to first place in the CIC3* at Camphire international Horse Trials. Photo courtesy of Dan McGrath/Editorial Images.

Camphire International Horse Trials had a milestone year, with a record number of entries from a record number of countries, a record number of spectators and four days of almost constant sunshine. With a truly international field this year, Camphire played host to competitors from Qatar, Hong Kong, the USA, Great Britian, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden. In fact, with a 30 percent increase in entries, Camphire had to begin a day early to accommodate all the dressage times.

“We received so many entries. We had to stop and think about what we were going to do,” Camphire HT organiser Paul Brady said. “We thought about balloting, but we really wanted to accommodate everyone. So we added the extra day of dressage, and we doubled the number of stables on-site, and it’s worked out really well.”

The event, set on the grounds of the historic Camphire House on a bend in the majestic Blackwater River, was blessed with a clear day on Thursday and almost too much sun and temperatures of up to 29 on Friday. Large numbers of spectators arrived in shorts and sat by the Camphire Bar tent, tanning. There was a run on ice.

Some competitors slipped down to the old ferry crossing to swim in the river. In the stables, there was a water shortage, and water had to be trucked in by Glanbia Agribusiness. Riders walked the course in preparation for Saturday’s cross-country and began to voice concerns about the ground.

“It was too hard,” Brady said. “So we asked Fergal O’Hanlon of Equine Acres Ireland to come water the course with his aggragator. But Fergal said to me — I need someone to show me where to go or I’m going to water places that don’t need doing. So I got on a quad and drove in front of him. We started at 9 p.m. and finished at 7 a.m. without stopping. It was a long night, but it worked — the ground was good and the riders were very appreciative.”

World-renowned course designer Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross-country course flowed over the naturally undulating grounds of Camphire House and the neighbouring farm of J. Browne along the Blackwater River, with several innovative fences, including one made from an enormous fallen tree. The fallen tree’s trunk was so large that a ramp had to be built to make it jumpable.

Other jumps included bog oak and spire, the native thatching rushes from the Blackwater River. The course rode very well, but the time was tight in the CIC3* class, and no one was able to complete within the time allowed.

“There’s a push to make the course natural and in keeping with the beautiful natural environment here,” landowner Marie Browne said. “We use what’s on the ground. And there are three sisters who come to dress the fences. They’re very creative, and they do a great job making the course look fantastic.”

Ireland’s Sam Watson won the Castleacre Insurance Brokers and Chubb Insurances CIC3*, Camphire’s showcase class. It was a week of highs and lows for Watson, who has been selected to represent Ireland in the World Equestrian Games in Normandy this August and whose second son Toby was born just days before Camphire began.

Watson had a difficult start to the weekend, with minor injuries to his horses, including his top horse, Horseware Bushman. Left with only his upcoming 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse Horseware Lukeswell in a highly competitive field of 41 that included silver medalist Australian Lucinda Fredericks and British Flora Harris, the odds looked stacked against him.

However, Horseware Lukeswell and Watson put in a beautiful dressage performance on Friday to earn the high score of 42.3, which put him in the lead, almost 10 points ahead of second-place winner Flora Harris on the stunning bay gelding, Bayano. A clear round in the showjumping by Watson followed by the fastest cross-country added only 4 points to Watson’s total, garnering him the winner’s place on the podium.

In the TRM CIC2*, Ireland’s Ciara Glynn and the 7-year-old Guidam gelding Gee Que bred by Mary Quinlivan won, while the Horse Sport Ireland CCI2* was won by Great Britain’s David Doel on Miss Caruso. Doel was on form at Camphire, also winning a second in the TRM CIC2* on Billy Pastime.

The West Waterford CCI* class went to another British rider, Heidi Woodhead on DHI Bruce Almighty. The Eventing Ireland CIC* was won by the USA’s Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp, the American LeMans race car driver and television presenter who traveled over from her home in England to Camphire in a bright orange private plane and matching orange shirt. She also had a respectable eighth-place finish in the Castleacre Insurance & Chubb Masterpiece CIC3* on another Irish-bred horse.

The Bucas Young Rider CIC2* went to Great Britain’s Sophie How, riding Bojangles HRS. She also earned a fifth placing in the Castleacre Insurance & Chubb Masterpiece CIC3* with Pebbly Aga Khan, the horse she rode to individual gold in the FEI Junior European Eventing Championships in Poland in 2012. The Bucas CIC* Young Horse class was picked up by British star Laura Collett and Mr. Bass, a 6-year old gelding by the Holstein sire Carrico.

Emma Jackson, of County Down, won both the Horse Sport Ireland 4- and 5-year-old master classes, adding to her third placing in the West Waterford CCI*. The Masterclass was held on Sunday morning, and featured a new Skylighter Trophy, cast in solid bronze and presented by Joe Craig, who sponsored the trophy. The young horses were assessed on their confirmation, flatwork, a short showjumping course and an inviting short course of cross-country obstacles.

“The objective is the find the horse with the most potential as an event horse, not necessarily the finished product,” said FEI Judge Judy Bradwell, who helped establish a similar class at Badminton Horse Trials. The class is intended as a showcase of Irish event horse breeding, and Horse Sport Ireland provided a prize fund of €1000 for each class.

[Camphire International Horse Trials]

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments