Stunning weather, top class eventing action and spectators starting to return – there was much to smile about at the Saracen Horse Feeds International Horse Trials this weekend (27-30 May).
Those lucky enough to have tickets were able to enjoy a wide variety of equestrian sport, including the home leg of the 2021 FEI Eventing Nations Cup™. It was the opening round of the 2021 series and saw Britain take on teams from Ireland and Australia.
The British Team of Tom McEwen, Mollie Summerland and Georgie Spence put in an almost faultless performance to secure the win for the home team. Not one of them had a jumping fault or a time fault throughout the competition, leaving them on their dressage score of 98.5. The Irish team (Joseph Murphy, Susie Berry and Austin O’Connor) finished ahead of Australia in third (Kevin Mcnab, Sam Griffiths and Sophie Adams).
British team member, Mollie Summerland said, “I find the Nations Cup series invaluable. The more mileage and experience I can get under team pressure; I find it really useful, hopefully for Championships and things in the future. It’s always a great privilege to ride on a Nations Cup Team.”
The competition for the CCIO4* short individual title kept everyone enthralled, with a top-quality field of more than 100 world-class combinations. In the end, a brilliant double clear and a masterclass in cross country riding took William Fox-Pitt and Little Fire to the top of the leaderboard. Six time penalties on the cross country moved overnight leaders Alex Hua Tian and Jilsonne Van Bareelhof back to fourth.
“I’m very happy with him,” said William. “He’s had a good season so far and this is the first time that I’ve actually asked any questions of him and put my foot down a little bit.
It was also great to see people here enjoying it, having a very good time – I think life is coming back into the world now, which is great.”
The Young Rider National Championships returned once again to Houghton Hall and this competition, for riders under 21 years-of-age, did not disappoint. Less than one fence separated the top four combinations heading into the showjumping, with Oliver Jackson and Viktor Krum holding the lead.
Clear rounds from Georgina Wood (Coronel MCJ) in second and Jemima Stratton (Global H) in third put the pressure on Oliver but he kept cool and delivered a lovely clear to take the title. The performance also saw the combination take second place in CCI3*L Section B.
“He hasn’t put a foot wrong the whole weekend,” said Oliver of Viktor Krum. “It’s just so inspirational to be riding and competing alongside some of the top riders in the world and being side-to-side in the prize giving is really something else.”
It was a dream weekend for Ros Canter who led from start to finish in both CCI3*L Sections with two lovely young horses, Shannondale Nadia (Section B ) and Izilot DHI (Section C).
The duo look extremely exciting for the future, with Ros describing Izilot DHI as probably the most talented horses she has had in her yard.
“I’m really proud of my horses this week, they’ve both been stars,” she said. “They’re both quite young horses and have got a lot to learn still. They’ve done PBs in every phase this week, so I couldn’t be more delighted with them. It’s really exciting for my whole team and my owners that we’ve got some nice horses coming up through the ranks.”
Ros and Shannondale Nadia (left ) and Izilot DHI (right)
A lovely dressage test put Emily King and Imposant at the top of the leaderboard in the CCI2*L, a position they maintained for the rest of the competition with two stand-out jumping performances.
“I’m absolutely over the moon with him,” said Emily. “He was super. He did just what I asked. He’s quite an anxious horse and he’s never really jumped in a ring as big as that and with crowds, so I didn’t really know how he was going to respond, but he was super so I am so proud of him and so pleased for his owners, the Kerr-Dineen family, that he pulled it out of the bag.”
The event was a wonderful opportunity for the equestrian community to come together and enjoy some great sport in the most stunning of locations. Alongside the international sport, there was a wide range of classes and competitions for equestrians of all size and experience to enjoy.