This year proved no different with both the Equex China Advanced and Martin Collins Novice Championships running on the Saturday.
First up was the advanced. Heavy rain fell during the morning session for about an hour making conditions difficult for riders though the ground held up really well. Tina Cook looked in amazing form piloting three horses round into the top ten including her WEG horse De Novo News who made a course which was causing a few issues look easy. Bill Levett was an unfortunate victim of the water jump on his ride Improvise. Andrew Nicholson had a tough ride on the Mary King ride MHS King Joules picking up a 20 and having a few sticky moments on a horse who looks to pull very hard and make life tough for the rider. Its not often you see a cross country master like Andrew Nicholson having to work so hard. Nicola Wilson had two cracking rides on Annie Clover and Watermill Vision going in some of the worst weather. For a while she held first and second on both horses.
Overall the problem fences were the BETA Lane Crossing which was a step up with a couple of strides to corner, the Equibuild complex with a big table fence to corner to corner. This needed to be jumped in control and those who jumped the big table conservatively tended to make the corners look fine. The water was the final fence which claimed a few scalps including that of Paul Sims on his Badminton horse Glengarnock. For some reason, lots of the horses had a real look while jumping the hanging log into the water. Those who made it look easy included eventual winner Aoife Clark on Fenyas Elegance who was super bold through it (watch a video of her on our Facebook page by clicking here).
Simon Porloe looked class with new jockey Padraig McCarthy and if they can continue to build on this relationship might be a possible for the Irish Team next year. Bay My Hero looked in good form with William Fox Pitt and finally Fernhill Highlight with Francis Whittington. Nobody made it round the hilly course inside the time with Aoife Clark going the quickest for just four time faults.
The final results were:
1st Fenyas Elegance – Aoife Clark, 2nd Watermill Vision – Nicola Wilson and 3rd De Novo News – Tina Cook.
Full Results can be found here http://www.bdwp.co.uk/gat/14/
The afternoon consisted of the Martin Collins Novice Championships.
This is always an exciting competition to talent spot the future stars. Previous winners and runners up have on the whole have gone onto to be pretty special horses (Bendigo, Cool Mountain, Easy Target, Avebury etc)
Despite it being a Novice Championship the course is definitely an Intermediate level test. Fence 9, the Vetoquinol Steps which consisted of house to two steps down to skinny house caught a few out. Those steps at Gatcombe seem to be pretty imposing and some horses hesitate. Jason Hobbs was lucky at this fence when his horse Lux de Lux hesitated but he did not step back and thus finished his round un-penalised for eventual 17th place. Even William Fox Pitt admitted his ride Topaze Du Plain was surprised by the steps and he is a bold galloping horse. The other fence which claimed a few scalps was fence 15 the Tow & Farm Coombe.
The winner was William Fox Pitt on Top Biats. It has been a while since William Fox Pitt last won this championship with Cool Mountain back in 2007. Top Biats by Corofino, comes from the same stud as William’s 4* winner Oslo where William was told by the horses breeder that he was ‘a horse for him’. Top Biats was sold to William’s long standing owners Jeremy and Judith Skinner in his 5th year. As a 4yo he did not do very much and only stood at 16.1hh. William very nearly rang Harry Meade to offer the horse to him as he was too small but now thankfully the horse is 17hh! He was described by William as ‘a lovely horse, a great allrounder and easy’ but he did add that he had plenty of character. Apparently Top Biats is more serious about his work than his illustrious compatriot Oslo and ‘possibly has more class (famous last words!)’. Top Biats has won his last four events so really nothing more can be asked of the horse.
Andrew Heffernan was second on Lawless Lil who is by the stallion Mill Law and is owned by Mrs Wendy Penny. Lawless Lil is a first homebred and is part Shire through her dam. The horse looked quite strong in places round the course and would not have been the most experienced coming to these championships having done only one Intermediate. Lawless Lil was a horse who Andrew Heffernan thought ‘could do well but its always great to actually do it’.
Sharon Hunt finished in third place on the impressive Loughnastousa Fabio. A horse we highlighted earlier in the week as being one to watch. He is a really fabulous horse and one who looks very exciting for the future. Fabio is by the Irish Sporthorse stallion Temple Clover and is owned by Sharon, Sharon’s parents Terry and Janice Hunt, and David and Sue Howard.
Full results can be found here http://www.bdwp.co.uk/gat/14/
Tomorrow sees the Smith & Williamson Intermediate Championships and the British Eventing Open Championships.
Francis Whittington currently leads the Open Championships with Easy Target followed closely by Andrew Nicholson on Avebury and Paul Tapner with Kilronan.
If you are at a loose end tomorrow then seriously get yourself to Gatcombe to see the conclusions of these exciting competitions.