Gemma Tattersall is the new British Open Champion.
Gemma fulfilled one of her great ambitions when becoming British Open Champion at The Festival of British Eventing, presented by the British Equestrian Trade Association, after riding a brilliant, bold cross country round on the ex-racehorse Arctic Soul.
Gemma, 32, is riding a wave of confidence – the win was also her second in the Event Rider Masters series, in which she now tops the leaderboard.
Gemma was only 11th after the showjumping phase but she set a blistering pace on the scopey Arctic Soul to finish just three seconds over the optimum time. None of the others could catch her and, to her delight, she was still topping the podium when the last combination, Marcio Jorg and Lissy Mac Wayer, set out.
The Brazilian doctor, who is taking a year out to concentrate on the sport, put up a spirited challenge but had never ridden Gatcombe’s testing undulations before and finished an honourable seventh.
Last year’s winner, Oliver Townend fell at the fourth fence with Note Worthy, and Bill Levett, lying fourth going into cross country, also had a fall with Shannondale Titan on the later part of the course.
Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal finished runner-up on Balham Mist, Somerset-based part time farrier Alexander Bragg was third on Zagreb, by far his best result at Gatcombe, and Sir Mark Todd was fourth on the grey Kilubrid Rhapsody.
“Gatcombe is such a special event,” said an ecstatic Gemma, who now sets off for the European Championships in Poland on a wave of confidence.
“It’s the home of British eventing and I’ve been wanting to win the national title ever since I finished third in 2010 and it really fired me up.
“Arctic Soul is the best cross country horse in the world. I put on my brave pants today and we saw every fence right and every stride. I’ve never been so fast in my life.”
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Happy times for Shane Rose
Australian rider Shane Rose, who has based himself with his great friend and compatriot Sam Griffiths in Somerset this season, had an unexpected boost with a win in the Neptune Advanced class at The Festival of British Eventing, presented by the British Equestrian Trade Association, at Gatcombe Park.
Sam had injured his neck in a fall, so Shane, holder of team silver and bronze medals from the 2008 and 2016 Olympic Games, deputised on his best-known horse, the 18-year-old Happy Times, one of the most consistent four-star horses of all time.
‘It’s a bit like being thrown the keys of a fancy sports car,’ joked Shane. ‘It was rather a treat. He’s very cool, very level-headed and all I had to do was steer.’
In an international line-up, Japan’s Toshiyuki Tanaka was second and Oliver Townend had some compensation for his British Open tumble with third place on Samuel Thomas. The new British Open champion, the in-form Gemma Tattersall, was fourth on Chillis Gem, by the 2015 Badminton winner Chilli Morning.
Ben Hobday secured his first national title when he led the prestigious Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship from start to finish with Jane Chambers’ and his own rising star Shadow Man II.
A dressage score of 27.3 left the pair at the head of the pack from the outset. They maintained this position throughout with a foot-perfect clear in the showjumping followed by an economical trip across country for just 6.8 time penalties.
“A lot of the riders were quite shocked when they heard I was in the lead,” joked Ben, who has been having help from dressage riders Matt Frost and Jess Dunn. “The test was everything I hoped it would be; he kept his concentration and I could ride him bravely forward.”
The chestnut son of Fidjy Of Colours was sourced in Belgium as a two-year-old for Ben’s business, Shadow Horses, which specialises in finding and producing top quality eventers.
“He’s everything you want in an event horse — athletic, intelligent and exceptionally kind,” said Ben. “He was nearly sold twice as a four-year-old — once to America — but luckily for me neither sale happened and Jane offered to step in [Ben still retains a half share]. At nearly 17hh he’s a big horse, but he’s incredibly light on his feet. This was his 10th win in 23 starts.”
William Fox-Pitt, so often a winner of this class, had to settle for second place this time with Catherine Witt’s classy-looking The Graduate.
Hayden Hankey and You’ve Got The Lux posted the fastest round of the section for 3.6 time penalties and eventual third place.
Oliver Townend wins 10th national title
Oliver Townend took his tally of national titles to an impressive 10 with victory on Angela Hyslop’s Khoi Traveler in the Smith & Williamson British Intermediate Championship at The Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, presented by the British Equestrian Trade Association.
The heavy rain stopped in time for Oliver to produce an inspired cross country round on the 11 year old flaxen-maned chestnut, clocking up just 4.4 time penalties to rise from only 33rd place after dressage and finish less than a penalty ahead of the runner-up, Matt Heath on Sportsfield Lord Livesey.
Only three riders finished with time penalties in single figures around Mark Phillips’s exciting cross country track. Tom McEwen, who is based here in the yard at Gatcombe, was third with 7.4 on Royal Roxy and speedy Irish rider Elizabeth Power was fifth and best placed female competitor with 6.0 time penalties on Mind Me.
“He was a racehorse so if any horse was going to cope it was him, although actually the ground has held up superbly,” explained Oliver, who has won the Intermediate title three times before, in in 2007, 2008 and 2015.
“Three days ago I wasn’t going to bring him here because he came late to eventing and I thought his dressage was a little bit behind, so this is quite a surprise!”
Khoi Traveler came to Oliver’s attention when his previous rider, an American, brought the horse over from the States to his yard. “I loved the horse at the time and eventually we managed to do a deal,” he explained.
Oliver stands to extend his brilliant Gatcombe record as he is also in the lead in the British Open, incorporating the fifth leg of the Event Rider Masters, with the excellent dressage score of 38.7 on Note Worthy, winner of the Intermediate Championship in 2015.
With a vastly improved weather forecast, a terrific competition is in store, as Oliver leads Australian Bill Levett on Shannondale Titan by on 0.5 of a penalty. Wiltshire-based Brazilian doctor Marcio Jorge (Lissy Mac Wayer) is third on 40 penalties and Somerset farrier Alexander Bragg is fourth on the 18hh Zagreb. The showjumping phase starts at around 9.30am tomorrow.
Collins clinches The Corinthian Cup
Lorna Collins and Blackrock Ricardo scored a pillar to post victory in the TopSpec Challenge for the Corinthian Cup, a National Restricted Novice Championship at The Festival of British Eventing, presented by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA).
Lorna last competed at The Festival of British Eventing 11 years ago, when she finished 43rd in the British Novice Championship on Benson, but the amateur from Melton Mowbray scored a career-best result when she returned this time with a precocious six-year-old son of Ricardo Z.
“I’ve not managed to ride him much this week as I’ve been to-ing and fro-ing to Pony Club camp with my eight-year-old son, Joseph,” admitted the stud groom, who is married to Quorn huntsman Peter Collins. “My only aim was to give him a nice experience; I was just hoping for a double clear.”
A lack of practise mattered not a jot as the pair turned in a dressage score of 24.6 and delivered one of the most polished showjumping clears of the section.
“He jumped beautifully considering how boggy the ground had become by the time I went,” enthused Lorna. “He went to Burghley for the Five-Year-Old Young Event Horse Final last year, so he is used to a bit of atmosphere, but even so he really surprised me with how he took it all in.”
The pair headed into the cross-country with a seven-penalty cushion and, in the final shake-up, they needed every last second, stopping the clock in a time of 4min57sec — some 17 seconds over the optimum for 6.8 time penalties.
“He went a little bit green on me at the two water fences and was mentally and physically very tired by the end, but I couldn’t be more thrilled,” continued Lorna, whose next target with the talented youngster will be the British Eventing Six-Year-Old Championship at Osberton in October.
Cornwall-based Katie Hancock and her own Coddstown Pet so nearly added the Corinthian Cup to the BE100 Mitsubishi Motors Cup they won at Badminton earlier in the year, but a rub of the second showjump meant they had to settle for second.
“The mistake was my fault,” rued Katie, a mother-of-one who juggles eventing with working part-time as a safety compliance officer.
The half-Shire mare, Coddstown Pet, only moved up to novice level in May.
“I’d always wanted to ride at Gatcombe, so when I found out we’d qualified I was really excited,” she said. “This was by far the biggest track she’s jumped and she answered every question.”
Third place went to another Katie — Katie Haimes and Shes A Million.
There were 38 clears from 48 cross-country starters; the most influential fence being the second water complex at 18abc, the TopSpec Comprehensive Challenge.
Arena Eventing Competition
The Festival of British Eventing hosted an Arena Eventing competition for the first time this year, giving amateur riders at BE90 and BE100 levels the chance to compete on Gatcombe’s hallowed turf.
The two-phase challenge comprising a mixture of showjumping and cross-country fences, proved exceptionally popular with nearly 200 entries across the two sections. Both classes were hard-fought and required skill, accuracy and commitment from horses and riders.
BE90 honours went to local rider, Anna Wiles and her 16.2hh gelding, Glen.
“He’s quite well-established at BE100 level, but he’s had a little holiday while my children have been off school, so it was great to be able to come here and have a go at this,” said Anna. “I thought it was a lovely course — very flowing, beautifully built and prepared — and the ground had dried out really well since yesterday. I will definitely be coming back next year.”
Victory in the BE100 went to Morgan Shelley and Cavandjo Silver Fox.