Yesterday saw a thrilling finale to the St James Place Barbury International Horse Trials CIC***.
The day commenced with BS showjumping before the final of the ROR Championship. The top 10 combinations from Friday’s Intermediate Novice qualifier faced a large SJ track that included the raised area in the main arena. Depsite having competed only two days previously, the quality of the horses was evident with strong performances from all the combinations. A special mention must go to Rebecca Godleman riding Magnifico II who despite being relatively inexperienced at the level compared to many of the competitors produced a great clear round which Rebecca was obviously understandably thrilled with.
Another clear came from Richard Waygood riding Luther II which put the pressure on Paul Tapner riding Inishmor. Paul had a pole in hand which he utilised but all the other poles reamined in their cups meaning he claimed the £2,000 first prize.
Edward Chanin and Laura Collett both performed dressage demos and it was great to see Kauto Star now looking very much a competition horse in shape and enjoying his ‘retirement’.
The CIC*** then commenced with the majority of riders starting in number order with the top 25 running in reverse order at the end. It was quickly apparently time penalties were going to be influential with the majority coming home with 15-20 plus. The course itself was as always influential. The double of open corners on a tight lefthand turn on 4 strides caught several as did the brush corner following the owl howl on 5 strides. Here many decided to take the alternative route.
The main water saw the hippos replaced with birch rails similar to those seen at Badminton this year, on a bounce distance with a triple skinny brush on a upward slope coming out. Many riders including Andrew Nicholson here took a time consuming alternative on the way out to avoid the brush fence.
Otherwise faults were evenly spread around the course. There were a few minor holds on course in addition to a lengthy 20 min hold for fence repair after the Trakhener collasped when breasted by a refusing horse early on. Again we must be thankful for modern fence design as the collasping log prevented the horse picking up serious injury.
Only Paul Tapner and Beanie Sturgis were able to get inside the optimum time which saw both rise up the rankings significantly, Beanie from 67th after dressage to 17th. A fast clear from Francis Whittington on Easy Target securing them 2nd place must surely have caught the selectors’ eyes – they are yet to announce the replacement individual rider for the WEG team.
Andrew Nicholson set off last knowing he had to go clear and fast to secure the win. He had a few penalties in hand from Mark Todd who set off before him, but not many. As mentioned he took the alternative at the water which always seemed on the cards rather than a last minute decision and produced a textbook round across country to pick up 4.8 time penalties and a clear win (over 8 penalties in hand). It was obviously an enjoyable round for Andrew who was seen smiling broadly as he went round, I can’t say we can blame him, being able to ride such a talented horse as Avebury.
The win for Andrew marked his 3rd in succession on Avebury in the CIC*** at Barbury which was made more notable for it being the 10th anniversary year of the event. The question now is can he make it 4 years in a row?