Four Star, including FEI Eventing Nations Cup
Germany did it again, claiming the first leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup for the fifth year in succession. Christoph Wahler, Jerome Robine, Ingrid Klimke and Felix Etzel posted a team score of 90.6, with Felix the discard score.
Chef d’Equipe of the German team, Hans Meltzer, commented: “We always enjoy coming to Houghton. Alec Lochore builds good courses which are very different to the ones we have at home. Here the riders can gallop much more and I think they all learn from it.”
Sweden held on to second place with a score of 91.2, while Great Britain moved up to third on 99.2.
Philip Surl, British Chef d’Equipe, declared himself, “chuffed. We had three first timers in our team; admittedly reasonably experienced riders, but never having been selected for the Nations Cup before. For all the team to jump double clear is a great result, I couldn’t be happier. I’m also delighted that the class fielded nine teams – that’s a good start to the series this year.”
British pathfinder and Derby University student, Richard Coney, admitted, “It was nice to be chosen, there are plenty of riders who would like to be selected. Kananaskis is pretty consistent so I knew he had it in him to put in a good performance, but you never know if it is all going to come together on the day.”
France moved up the rankings to fourth and the Netherlands to fifth, but Belgium dropped down the order to sixth, from third overnight.
The individual winner of the four-star was established before midday when the overnight leader, German team rider Christoph Wahler came home clear and inside the time from the cross country course. Carjatan S, a 10-year-old grey gelding, has been well placed this season and was foot perfect here. “I liked the cross country course – the combinations were good and the ground rode well. It’s not my first trip to Houghton, and I always enjoy it.”
Sweden’s Louise Romeike and Waikiki 207 climbed from eighth after dressage to take the runner up spot ahead of Newcastle University student Rosa Onslow. “This is my best result ever,” said Rosa. “I missed an exam to be here, but it was worth it – I’ll just have to do well in next week’s exams to make up for it.”
Holly Woodhead claimed the three-star class riding Scuderia 1918 Future. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more. After a difficult year last year, I’m a bit overwhelmed. My horse really pulled it out of the bag.”
Dressage score completions by both Gideon and Mosstown Prince gave Harry Meade second and third places in what was a very close scoring section.
Three Star Young Rider British Eventing National Championship
In a repeat of 12 months ago, Bubby Upton’s hopes of taking the Young Rider title were dashed in the closing seconds when a miscommunication between horse and rider resulted in something of a crash through a fence for four penalties.
This moved Phoebe Locke and Union Fortunus to the top of the table, with Bubby having to settle for second and third places on Cola III and overnight leader Eros DHI respectively.
“I never thought that Bubby would have a pole down,” said Phoebe, through a mass of tears. “I didn’t ever imagine I might win – I always finish second. My horse tries so hard for me, I absolutely can’t believe it.”
Heidi Coy finished fourth, fifth and sixth.
Norfolk-born Piggy French led from pillar to post in the two-star, on board Lancer Stud’s First Lancer. “This is such a reward for the owners’ patience, bringing ‘Tokyo’ back from serious injury,” said Piggy. “He’s a totally genuine horse. It doesn’t matter if the fences are big, small or spooky, he just wants to jump them. To win here with Emma Craggs, his owner, watching… she’s been poorly recently and he spent over two years in rehab being cared for by the family – hopefully they will remain healthy together.”
“That made me cry,” an emotional Emma Craggs admitted. “Tokyo won last weekend at Rockingham and I thought hoping for two wins was plain greedy. Just to be here is so exciting – Tokyo had never done a three-day event before, and we didn’t know how he’d be after the cross country; would he be sound, how would he showjump today [in one-day events, horses showjump before they go cross country]? I can’t quite believe it.”
Belgium’s Stephanie D’Andrimont and Casperelli retained the runner up spot they held throughout the competition, but an expensive rail down for Willa Newton dropped Cock A Doodle Doo seven places to 10th. Kitty King and MHS Fernhill Finale were the beneficiaries of this, completing the top three.
Photo credit: FEI Eventing Nations Cup prize giving © Sophie at SEH Photography