Gatcombe horse trials 27th September 2015
Gatcombe park was bathed in sunshine this autumn, and there was a nice cut in the ground. A great venue and fantastic conditions always provides the best way to enjoy eventing, for horse and spectator alike.
I had four horses competing across the weekend, and to kick us off was Duke of Axbridge in the Intermediate class.
We’ve worked incredibly hard on Dukes flat work, playing around with different training methods and regimes, and it seems to be paying off. He put in a great performance putting us in a very competitive position.
The show jumping was not over big, but was still catching its fair share of people out. Duke had a couple rubs around the course, but left all of the jumps up for a welcome clear round.
The cross country was jumping fairly well but the time appeared quite tight to achieve. I decided with the going being so good, and Duke positioned in a competitive place after show jumping that we would pin our ears back and have a good crack at the optimum time.
Duke enjoys galloping, and the introduction to the course offered a good opportunity to do so, and settle in to a strong rhythm. I have to say, Duke gave me a super ride, he boldly took on the big fences, and sensitively listened to me through the combinations, especially through the woods where you have to nimbly work your way along a narrow path in and out of the trees.
We jumped through the water fence well, and Duke had plenty of petrol left in the tank to gallop home. With one eye on the clock I pulled back the throttle, and we didn’t waste a second in the last stretch of the course. We crossed the finish line having incurred 4.8 time penalties, one of the quickest rounds of the day.
Duke was rewarded for his bravery, winning the class by a fair margin. This was a huge achievement for Duke as it was his first win of his career, and it also gave his owner and breeder, Liz Scott her first win.
Saturday was Novice day, and I had three horses to compete.
Storm Blue was doing his second Novice, and once again he put in a good performance in the dressage for a 31.5.
Blue caught sight of the cross country whilst in the show jumping warm up, and gave me an exuberant ride around the course. He was jumping everything massive, which felt great, but he jumped the planks so big in front, he tapped them with his hind legs for 4 faults. I’m sure as he settles in to his new eventing career, these little mistakes will disappear.
To say that Blue enjoyed the cross country would be an understatement! I set off fairly steady so he could pick up a confident rhythm, and increased the pace as we commenced. He gave me a fantastic foot perfect round which put the biggest smile on my face as I crossed the finish line. This horse is such a star for the future, he is officially a total ‘Dude’.
EWW’s 5yr old, LVS Stonehavens Quebec was contesting her first Novice. This was intended to be an educational experience, with our main attention focussed on the 5yr old championships next month at Osberton.
Once again, she produced an elegant dressage test for an impressive 26.8.
She popped around the show jumping for an unlucky 4 faults. She jumped big over the oxer in to the double and left herself a little flat footed to jump out. This was a total green mistake where to much effort can get you in to a muddle, but who can be disappointed with someone being over enthusiastic, I’d rather that than not.
I don’t think I even noticed that we had stepped her up a level here. She cantered around the course as if she had been eventing all her life. This horse has such a brilliant attitude towards life, it’s a pleasure to be producing her.
Spypark Ferro XS performed a fantastic dressage test to put us in pole position with a score of 24.
He warmed up for the show jumping well, but the atmosphere seemed to excite him when he went in the main arena. He was clearly feeling very fit, and slightly took control at times around the show jump course. He definitely proved what a careful jumper he is by producing a super clear round from what was not one of my most stylish performances.
Well. Being in the lead going in to the cross country, there was only one thing on my mind, WINNING! It was only his third Novice, but the ground was good, and he was feeling great. I set off confidently, and Spypark Ferro was well on-board with my intentions. He flew around the course, showing fantastic agility through the twisty combinations, and bravely taking on the big bold fences.
I think this was a huge step for this horse, showing us that he has got all the attributes to be successful. He is going to be a huge contender in future seasons, and I’m thrilled to be riding him.
Whatley Manor hotel kindly sponsored this class, and the winners received a complimentary spa day for. Spypark Ferro’s owner Sarah Boon very generously gave this gift to us in return for all the hared work involved in producing these results. Thank you very, very much Sarah.
What a great show. All is happy at Team Bragg!