Today was cross country day at the Naf Hartpury International. A jam packed day of cross country with CCI1*, CCI2* and CIC3* all being held on the same day.
The ground on the cross country was great with a serious effort made by the organisers after criticisms a few years ago, combined with great weather the conditions were perfect for a great day of action.
The 1* started at 8.30am but was marred by the first rider on course having a rotational fall at fence 12 and needing to be airlifted off to hospital. Speaking to the fence judges they said the horse was fighting its head and got too close to an table type fence coming downhill with brush at the back. The last report was that the rider was in Frenchay Hospital with several injuries including a partially separated shoulder. The 1* caused problems throughout the course with fence 10 causing the most issues which was a roll top with drop to a skinny arrowhead. Speaking to several fence judges, they were not sure why the problems were occurring but poor riding was mentioned. Out of all the penalties given seven were for falls. With the good going, on the whole the time was not hugely influential.
Currently leading the 1* is Danielle Dunn with V Zermie 51 and closely followed behind by 1.6 penalties is Helen West riding Foxdon Sunny Jim with all the play for in the show jumping tomorrow.
The 2* started an hour later than planned due to hold ups. On the whole the course seemed to ride well. Several horses took a dislike of the fence into the water which was a brush with a small ditch into the water. The frangible pin was rattled several times on the second water and I watched an impressive pin change in less than one minute. There was one very scary moment between fence 8 and 9 on the cross country when an official started crossing in their Land Rover into the path of an oncoming horse. Tom Rowland and his horse hit the vehicle which caused them both to fall. Luckily both horse and rider were not seriously injured. Poor Leonard Goerens who followed Tom Rowland was in the unfortunate position of being held up in the middle of the water fence and just before a very tricky combination out of step up to skinny arrowhead.
Borough Penny Z and Vittoria Pannizon were in the 2* due to needing to regain qualifications after two recent horse falls, and were the leaders after dressage. Penny Z looked tricky on the cross country in places fighting for her head and in a not listening to her experienced rider. They came home clear and inside the time to retain their lead. They are followed closely by Lucinda Fredericks on the experienced The Navigator. The show jumping should hold no fear tomorrow for Penny Z.
The CIC3* was the culmination of the days events. The time looked quite tight and there was a mixture of hugely experienced horses along with those with less experience. The first question was that of the double of skinny brush arrowheads at fence 4, this jumped well if on a forward stride and experienced combinations made it look easy.
Janine Jansen survived a scary moment before retiring at the square box to corner fence. The experienced pair of Drivetime and Emily Baldwin unfortunately became trapped in a fence and it had to be dismantled before the horse could be removed. On the whole the experienced made the course look easy. The eventual winner was Chris Burton on Temperanillo and they were the only pair to come home inside the time. Chris Burton seems on fire at the moment following several other wins. He was followed closely by busy rider
Tim Price and Wesko, Tim’s partner Jonelle Richards was hotly on his tail less than one point behind on The Deputy.Both Tim and Jonelle had several horses running in the 2* and 3*. Andrew Nicholson was in 4th with Mr Cruise Control, who looked fantastic. Mr Cruise Control is entered at Burghley and must be a serious contender for the title following his Luhmuhlen 4* win. My horse of the day is Aphrodisiac ridden by Coral Keen, who looks seriously impressive and came 11th and would look like a strong contender to go to Blenheim.
Hartpury is a great viewing course and combined with favourable weather it was a pleasure to be able to watch all three levels of cross country action on one day. It is definitely an event I will return to next year and armed with a decent picnic having had severe picnic envy on the side of the hill.