The ‘King of Barbury’, Andrew Nicholson (NZL), regained his crown today – making it the sixth time he has won at this level at Barbury, but the first time whilst riding Paul and Disy Ridgeon’s Swallow Springs. Andrew, who lives just over the hill from Barbury, at Lockeridge, said: “I love coming here. I like to support my local event and I’ve brought a lot of my nice novice horses this weekend.
“Swallow Springs has always been a very good horse, but he likes to look about – you can be coming to a difficult fence and his mind is on the bar or getting an ice-cream. Now, though, he’s very focused – he’s starting to feel like Avebury [four-time winner at Barbury].”
Overnight leader Mollie Summerland (GBR), 21, was delighted to put the ghost of Bramham, when her saddle slipped, behind her. She finished second on Charly van ter Heiden, her 7.2 cross-country time penalties just pushing her below the speedy Andrew Nicholson, who is 36 years her senior. “I really want to make eventing my career. The only thing holding me back is lack of horsepower, but I hope that perhaps someone might notice me now and send me a horse. You never know!”
Alex Bragg (GBR) rode two horses in to the top 10. He finished third on the mare Hester and seventh on King of the Mill. Alex was full of praise for event director Alec Lochore’s track, which he has taken over from Capt Mark Phillips. “Alec built a super track. They were all decent courses, as they should be. If you’re trying to produce a horse for the top, you need these types of tracks to bring them on. The ground had super grass cover, too.”
Zara Tindall rose more than 30 places with the fastest time of the day, just five seconds over the optimum time of 6 minutes 33 seconds, to fourth on Watkins. She finished on the same score as Pippa Funnell riding MGH Grafton Street, Zara’s cross-country speed giving her the advantage.
The eventing classes for 2019 concluded with two sections of novice. These were won by Matthew Glentworth (GBR) riding Forthright and Jesse Campbell (NZL) on Sportsfield Global Warrior.
Shetland Grand National
Each year the Shetland Grand National raises money for charity, with this year’s beneficiary being the Bob Champion Cancer Trust. Fiercely competitive jockeys aged between eight and 14 years old, and a maximum five feet tall, contested a series of heats at impressive speeds, all hoping to impress the selectors who later in the year will choose which lucky jockeys will race at Olympia in December.
The first set of heats provided a finals win for Sophie Newman-Moore who finished ahead of Alfie Daper and Lucy Aspall, while the finals winner of the second set of heats was Lucas Murphy, son of the 2008 Grand National winner Timmy, with Alfie Daper in second and Lucy Aspall, daughter of back-to-back Grand National winner Leighton, third.