Gloucestershire-based Canadian Olympic rider Michael Winter won the British Eventing Five-Year-Old Championship – sponsored by The Howden Way – on Happy Time today at Cornbury House Horse Trials.
Michael finished on the same score – 26.1 – as second-placed Gemma Gurvidi (Nistel O), but Michael was closer to the optimum time of 4min 48sec on the cross-country and therefore took top spot.
Michael and his wife Emma own the Dibadu L-sired Happy Time with Hazel Thompson and her son Josh. The Winters usually produce horses to sell, but after the Thompsons – long-time owners with Michael and Emma – bought a half-share, they plan to keep this exciting youngster, whom they bought from Belgium during Covid after seeing a video of him.
“He was super,” said Michael. “I thought he would back off a little at the more decorated fences, but he’s really brave – he’s really, really good.”
Only a fraction behind Michael and Gemma in third on a score of 26.8 was Max Warburton, riding Norway Van De Haar, owned by Miranda Lucey, Hazel Livesey and Sue Ruddock.
The Howden Way Young Horse Championships for six- and seven-year-olds conclude tomorrow (Sunday, 10 September). World champion Yasmin Ingham is in the lead in the seven-year-old class on Gypsie Du Loir, owned by Janette Chinn and the Sue Davies Fund. The pair added a few cross-country time faults to their dressage mark of 21.9, but their overnight score of 26.7 keeps them at the top of the leaderboard.
Yasmin said: “I think the cross-country track was super-educational. Young horses are learning all the time and they need to have a positive experience, which is the most important thing. I was especially pleased with Gypsie Du Loir – this was quite a decent step up for her. I didn’t really know how she was going to cope with it, but she took it all on and fought like a lion the whole way round. There were times where she got a little bit too keen, but it was so nice – she felt like she was attacking everything and building in confidence the whole way round.”
The mare, by Herald, has come from the same stud in France (Elevage du Loir) as Yasmin’s world champion Banzai Du Loir – as does Goliath Du Loir, who is in 13th place currently with Yasmin.
Kitty King and Kantango are in first place after cross-country in the six-year-old final. The pair stormed round David Evans’ track to stay on their dressage mark of 22.7.
Kitty, who won team gold and individual silver at the European Championships last month on her top horse Vendredi Biats, bought the Tangelo gelding last winter from Harry Horgan. He is now owned by Penelope Holley, Joanna Jones, Kitty’s mother Jane Boggis and Jane Tolley.
“He’s quite cocky – his dam is by Winningmood, who is Vendredi Biats’ sire, and they do have a certain amount of cheekiness and cockiness about them!” she said. “He’s always naturally a very jolly, happy chap; he got a bit feisty today across country and was very full of himself.”
Tomorrow (Sunday) is the final day of Cornbury 2023. All the cross-country action will be livestreamed for free on the event website and on Horse & Country TV.
Tickets for Cornbury House Horse Trials, which features far more than “just” the international horse sport, can be bought online via the website or on the gate. “Field Food” celebrates a wide variety of delicious, locally-produced food and drink, including from the Cornbury estate, while at the weekend “Wildings” is a shaded, interactive area full of children’s activities.
Visit www.cornburyhousehorsetrials to buy tickets, watch the livestream and for more information.