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The Eventing season returns at Barbury

Barbury was one of three events to re-start the eventing season last weekend, albeit ‘behind closed doors’. The stunning Marlborough Downs location was looking its best after recent rain and all competitors performed under clear blue skies.

British team gold medallist Tom McEwen claimed the intermediate class riding his own and Alison McEwen’s eight-year-old Coilbri de Riverland, a horse now well established at this level. Tom almost made it a one-two, but had to settle for third place on his mare Cassiana de Riverland, both horses bought from France’s Riverland stud.

“I was happy with all my rides – they felt fit and well, pleased to be out. I think everyone there was pleased to be out,” said Tom. “Yes it felt a bit odd to have no spectators or tradestands but there were advantages. There was more space in the showjump warm up for starters, and having two collecting rings worked really well. 

“The cross country course might have been a little softer than usual but it was still educational and appropriate for a first run back after the break, while the ground was the best I have ever seen it at Barbury. 

“I expect the rest of the season will be a little bit last minute so I’m trying not to plan too much, but it’s been a good start for me.”

It was Georgie Strang who separated Tom’s rides, Red Hot Cooley leading the dressage phase but a rail down in the showjumping costing her the win.

In the open intermediate Tom was back in the money, finishing second on Bob Chaplin, a past runner up in the Six Year Old World Championships when ridden by co-owner Paul Tapner. However, the fastest round of the day from Therese Viklund and Viscera promoted the pair to the top spot in this class. Just 2.8 cross country time penalties was good enough to move the mare above Tom and third placed Tim Price on Spartaco.

Adding to his tally, Tom also posted a novice win and four more top four placings; he has definitely put his lock-down time to good use.

Hector Payne also came out all guns blazing, jumping double clears and finishing in the top 10 on all six of his rides. Hero RHF and Opposition Equites bagged a win apiece at novice and BE100 level respectively.

“Surprisingly it felt pretty normal, if a bit more relaxed with bigger gaps between competitors and everything more spaced out,” Hector observed. “The organisers did an incredible job and the owners appreciated having commentary, which is currently optional. The one way systems worked and there were lots of helpful, happy volunteers.

“Running BE100 classes at such short notice was a big success. Equine first timers really relished the open setting, and lots of riders who haven’t been able to compete at Barbury before were loving it.

“I had a great weekend. It was my first run on both Opposition Equites and her half sister Equites Mail (9th in a novice section) so great results for their owner Vanessa, and to win with such a good score on Hero was exciting.”

There were several ‘next generation’ riders competing. Lucinda Fredericks’ daughter Ellie won the open novice on Britannias Mail, an offspring of Lucinda’s multiple Five Star winner Headley Britannia; Tina Cook’s daughter Isabelle jumped clear in the open BE100 on Tina’s old Five Star ride Star Witness; and Paul Tapner’s daughter Madison only just missed out on a placing in a BE100 section.

Alec Lochore’s courses rode well with cross country clears the order of the day, although showjumping clears were harder to achieve. Alec commented: “I was very pleased with how the event went over the weekend. I firmly believe that all social distancing measures were adhered to, so credit to riders and owners for managing themselves in such a respectful manner.

“It was a great team effort from everyone involved, with quite a few new and unusual protocols in place – many of which were very well received and may remain. Lovely weather, good sport and excellent going made it a very positive experiment.”

Tom McEwen & Coilbri de Riverland  © Julian Portch

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