This year’s Barefoot Estates Burnham Market International Horse Trials was possibly the most successful yet. As in previous years the world’s best riders travelled to North Norfolk, so competition was hot.
The headline CIC3* class, which this year formed the first leg of the new Shearwater Insurance Tri-Star Grand Slam, was yet again won by Oliver Townend.
The leading British Eventing points winner for the last two years has dominated this class over the years: he won in 2007 and 2009 on his future Badminton winner Flint Curtis; in 2008 on Coup de Coeur; in 2010 with Ashdale Cruise Master; Pepper Anne triumphed in 2012; he won twice in 2014 when two sections were held, riding Black Tie and Armada; and in 2015 it was Mr Hiho at the top of the leaderboard with Armada 0.2 of a penalty behind in second place.
This year Oliver not only won the class with Angela Hislop’s Cooley Master Class but also took the runner up spot with Andrew Cawthray’s Note Worthy.
“Cooley Master Class didn’t event last year but he could have. I was riding him at home but we just kept putting it back and I think the break has done him the world of good. He felt better than ever, I’ve always believed that he is a very, very good horse,” said Oliver.
“The Tri-Star Grand Slam is fantastic to aim for, and I’m lucky to have several horses at the right level, but I will still aim the horses at the best events for them and to suit their major goals for the year.”
Earlier in the day Australia’s Sammi Birch and The Court Jester claimed the CIC2*, keeping Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal and Master Ping back in the runner up spot with Germany’s Pia Munker, the dressage leader on Louis M, in third. Izzy Taylor was the best of the Brits in fourth, making it a truly international class.
Advanced riders wrapped up the day, with a win for Bettina Hoy riding Designer 10 ahead of Tim Price in second and fourth, his rides separated by Izzy Taylor who is standing in for Piggy French on Westwood Mariner.
Saturday was primarily Intermediate day, with the big story the return to competition for William Fox-Pitt after his serious fall last autumn. Crowds were out in force to see William back in action, and his first show jumping round prompted an enthusiastic burst of applause.
William admitted that he had chosen his first competitive partners carefully, opting to ride the experienced Cool Mountain and Parklane Hawk. “They are both old pros and literally carried me round – I only had to hold on,” he claimed, still the master of understatement. Always planning to take both horses steadily across country, he enjoyed two confident clear rounds, saying afterwards: “It’s a great relief to finish in one piece and feeling good.”
Ireland’s Meghan Healy proved herself an exciting up and coming talent, winning section J on her own Lui D. Meghan is based with Tiny Clapham and now rides full time, having just finished a degree in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology – not your run of the mill rider. This was her first intermediate win, and next time out she will tackle both her and her horse’s first advanced class at Belton Park.
Jo Ward won section K riding DHI Up Beat, while Oliver Townend posted his first win of the weekend with Lanfranco in open intermediate section L and Tim Price got his new partnership with OBOS Cooley, previously campaigned by Piggy French, off to a flying start with a win in open intermediate M. In the process Tim denied Oliver a second Saturday win, Oliver taking both second and third places in this section.
The day finished with novice competitors, Julia Norman on Joblesse van Bareelhof taking section N and Emily Llewellyn the Open Novice with Exclusive. The final winner of Saturday, in the Under 18 Open Novice, was Heidi Coy riding Forrests Foxy Lady.
Blue skies graced all three days, drawing in the crowds. BE100 competitors had been first out on Friday, and Ipswich based Leilia Paske claimed the under 18 section riding Fernhill First Friend. There were also wins for Eleanor Hope (Aylesbury), Simon Grieve (Tilton on the Hill), Jamie Atkinson (Langley Park) and Gaby Cooke (Oakham).
Friday’s two novice sections were won by Izzy Taylor from Banbury riding Legacy and Australian rider Andrew Hoy (Melton Mowbray) on Right To Plays Jack Sparrow.
Helen Millin, co-owner and director of new title sponsor, Barefoot Estates, commented: “We’ve had a fantastic three days at the event. We have met a lot of people and made some great new contacts. From our perspective this has been the icing on the cake for the launch and awareness building of our new boutique estate agency.”
“Barefoot Estates have been wonderful sponsors, and the whole weekend seems to have gone very well – sunshine always helps to bring in the crowds, and the riders love to be cheered on – particularly on the cross country course. I’m delighted that so many of the best riders in the world choose to bring both their top horses and their up and coming horses to Norfolk every spring,” added Event Director Alec Lochore.