It was a fantastic five days of competition at this year’s NAF International Hartpury Horse Trials with British women winning all three classes.
Leading from start to finish, Kitty King and Vendredi Biats stormed the Superflex CIC*** to take top spot. With a dressage score of 39, King jumped a lovely clear round in the second phase to set off across the country in first place.
The new look and feel cross country was the talk of the competition but the big, bold tracks rode well. Proving no problem for the pair, they added just 3.2 cross country time faults to finish top of the field on a final score of 42.2.
King said, “I’m delighted with Vendredi’s performance. He’s only eight years old and has just moved up to this level. I nearly withdrew him a week ago as he can really pull through my hands however I have had a lot of support and found a new bit combination for him that’s really worked. It was my birthday on Thursday so this is a great belated birthday present!”
Moving up from 10th spot after the dressage, Willa Newton and Neelix took second place on a final mark of 48.2. Ludwig Svennerstal and El Kazir SP put Sweden on the podium, clinching third place just behind Newton on 48.5.
Renowned names of the eventing world filled the rest of the top ten as Paul Tapner took 4th with Bonza King of Rouges. Tapner also bagged 6th place with Yogi Bear VIII in the pair’s last competition together before the horse’s retirement. Jeanette Brakewell and Forever Red took 5th whilst Lauren Kieffer rode Landmarks Monte Carlo and D A Duras into 7th and 10th respectively.
The success didn’t stop there for Willa as she went on to claim the Magic CCI** title on the Sunday, riding The Sandpiper Syndicate’s Moonlight Dance S.
“I’m so excited for my first ever three day event win,” said Newton.
Retaining her lead from the start, the pair finished on a mark of 42.0 after adding just 0.4 cross-country time faults to their dressage mark of 41.6. With less than a fence in hand over second-placed Roberto Scalisi, it was all to play for, but Newton kept her cool to jump clear.
Second place after the cross country, Amelia Walker and Director General had 12 faults in the showjumping to drop to 8th place. Roberto, riding Ros Haywards’s Topaze Du Plain for Italy at the first ever two-star event for both horse and rider, stepped up to finish second, staying on his dressage score of 45.2. After also jumping clear, Alicia Hawker and Nankin Des Ruettes completed the top three.
The final phase proved to be very influential in the Recover CCI*, with only 25 combinations jumping clear of the 64 pairs that got through to the final phase. Stepping up to the mark, overnight second placed Amelia Walker and her own E Boy jumped clear to put the pressure on leader Chloe Lynn riding Calzini. Unfortunately, the pair had three fences down, dropping them out of the placings to finish on a mark of 55.4.
This left Amelia to take the top spot, finishing on her dressage mark of 45.3. Mark Ford, riding Mintridge Larkspur, jumped a lovely clear, holding his dressage mark of 45.8 to take second place, whilst Lizzie Baugh and B Exclusive were hot on their heels. The pair also had nothing to add to their dressage mark, finishing on a score of 45.9.
Returning course designer Eric Winter (CIC***) was working with a new team this year in designer Angus Smales (CCI**&*) and course builder Dominic Moore. The result was three revitalised cross-country courses, all of which were well received by riders.
The Hartpury team is now looking forward to next year’s event. The flags are only just down but work has already started on the new tracks for 2018’s competition. With some big plans in place rolling out over the next few years, it’s an exciting time at the college and university centre.
With the event finishing in beautiful sunshine Hartpury’s Equine Director Phillip Cheetham said: “We had a wonderful five days of competition with horses and riders enjoying the very best of International competition here in Gloucestershire. We cannot thank the officials, Hartpury staff and volunteers enough. Without them and our sponsors NAF, it would not have been as successful as it was.”