Event riders dream of competing at Badminton and once again, International event rider Louise Harwood will fly the flag for Herefordshire in the International 4* Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. Louise, from Eardisley, has 2 rides, Roy Baker and Emma Baker Jones’s Whitson and her mother Jackie Skelton’s Mr Pott’s.
The 16.3hh 14 year old Whitson was bred by owner Roy Baker. He’s an IDxTB by Cameos Reflection, out of Castle Weir Rebel (Coosheen Liam ). In 2014 Louise (aka Wiggy) and Whitson were 13th in the four-star at Pau and he was BE’s top scoring horse of the year as well as best British-bred horse. As a result, they were short-listed for the British squad for the World Equestrian Games in France. In 2016, Whitson was 8th at Luhmuhlem CIC4*.
The 15 year old Mr Potts is by the Irish Sport Horse Old Leighlin. Mr Pott’s dam, Much of a Muddle, is by the ID sire Roma Diamond Skip. Much of a Muddle is half-sister to Louise’s previous Badminton rides, the full brothers Bit of Barney and Partly Pickled who both completed Burghley and Badminton. Mr Pott’s was 12th at Burghley in 2014.
Mr Potts was an enormous foal and his delivery wasn’t easy but Three Counties Equine vet Graham Potts helped heave him out and upon arrival, Jackie Skelton, Louise’s Mum, announced the foal would have to be named ‘Mr Pott’s!….. There’s more to this story, but you’ll have to ask Graham or Jackie to fill you in!
Before the International Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials get underway with the trot up on Wednesday 3rd May, amateur riders get the fantastic opportunity to contest the Mitsubishi Motors Cup which is the championship for BE90 and BE100. Horse and rider combinations qualify for the MMC at regional championships held each autumn.
The MMC begins on Tuesday with dressage for the first half of each section and concludes on Wednesday with the rest of the dressage, the show jumping and cross country phases. Whilst the dressage and show jumping take place just over the road from the main event, the XC course is in the parkland alongside the main XC course. What a thrill for riders to gallop through the lake in front of Badminton House and jump fences built alongside the huge 4* fences.
I can’t mention everyone in the region who’s qualified for MMC, but here are a few of the local riders I’ve heard about:
Fern Taylor-Wrighton, from Bromyard, Herefordshire has qualified for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup BE100 Championships. She rides Tilly – Tillyochie Attraction, a 14 years old, grey Connemara x TB (by Accondy), bought from Malvern sale as a 4 year old! No stranger to success, Fern and Tilly came 6th at Badminton in the BE100 Championship last May with a double clear inside the time and also came 2nd at the Intermediate Pony Club Championships.
Fern says there have been so many funny moments with Tilly, one of which was at Badminton last year during the mounted presentation in front of Badminton House. Tilly had heard the hounds and so thought they were off hunting. She was bouncing about and wouldn’t go near the rosette basket at the prize giving much to the crowd’s amusement. They also had a very hairy moment on the XC at Badminton when Fern lost her stirrup after the 3rd fence and had to do a few fences, including the water complex without it! Tilly just kept going and, as Fern said, it’s the best feeling galloping round Badminton grounds on your partner in crime even if she does take out strides unexpectedly! Fern’s Mum is clearly indispensable being Fern’s trainer/groom/supporter and agony aunt as well as being Mum!
Another rider to qualify for the the BE100 Championships is Molly Williams, from Kingsland near Leominster. She rides Axel, an 18 yr old, chestnut gelding apparently bred by mistake, but obviously turned out to be a good mistake! Axel is a Welsh Sec D x TB and Molly has owned him for 5 years. Previously they have competed at the Pony Club championships – Novice 2013 and Intermediate 2014 – in eventing and dressage. They’ve also been in Molly’s school SJ team and competed at Hickstead, they’ve competed in BE events up to Novice and done the BE Voltaire finals at Blenheim BE100 2016 resulting in 3rd place. Molly is a student at the Royal Agricultural University in her second year studying Real Estate and is as yet undecided of her future career! She also works in a Building Society part time, but her ambition at the moment is to go clear round Badminton and to keep eventing this season! Her mum is a vital part of the team as she drives her everywhere and Jane Jessop, a family friend, does an amazing job of keeping Axel happy, healthy and fit whilst Molly is at uni!
Kate Ebery, 21, from Michaelchurch Escley in Herefordshire, rides the 10 year old Whichway Over (Millie) in the Mitsubishi Motors Cup BE90 Championship. Kate, who recently graduated from Hartpury college with a BSc (Hons) in equestrian sports science has owned Millie for 4 and a half years but it hasn’t been an easy ride! Millie is very quirky and 6 months after buying her Kate thought she would never event. She could hardly get her over a pole on the ground let alone a cross country fence. Kate says she has been eliminated or fallen off more times than she can remember and despite a good 9th place at the Pony Club Intermediate Dressage Championships in 2014, Kate ended up with a ruptured AC joint as a result of Millie’s antics eventing. However, when she’s good, she’s very good and after all, the pair qualified for a regional final which is everyone’s aim! Last season, Kate and Millie were based with International event rider Louise Harwood and Kate can’t thank her enough for her help prior to and at their regional final which they won, thus giving them qualification for the MMC at Badminton. Last year Kate groomed at the MMC for her auntie Sarah Mitchell so knows what to expect at this prestigious and exciting event. Sarah, also from Herefordshire, was delighted with Puzzel in 2016 finishing with just 0.4 time penalties to add to their dressage, so no doubt Kate will be hoping for a similar result and if all goes well, will aim at novice level after Badminton.
Steph Lynn, from Gorsley, Herefordshire, has qualified for the BE90 Championships. Steph works full time as a groom and rider for a private yard in Herefordshire and is a freelance riding instructor regularly teaching the local Pony Clubs. She has qualified her own Crystal (BE registered Crystal VII) a 12yo skewbald mare of unknown breeding (Cob X!) who she’s owned since a 3yr old. Crystal is well known as the ‘pocket rocket’ as she is only 15.1hh. They have had lots of top 10 placings at BE90 level but this will be their first crack at Badminton. Crystal and she qualified for a regional final back in 2012 but 2 days before, she injured her stifle in the field which led to a year off work. The vets were not sure if she would come back into full work, but by taking it really steadily day by day Crystal has come back better than ever which makes qualifying extra special! Steph’s ambition is to get a double clear around the championships and she gives a big shout out to boyfriend (and farrier) Jack Harper who is always there to give me her kick up the backside as well as to do Crystal’s studs!!
Holly Chivers is 26 and lives just outside Upton-upon-Severn. She rides her own 8yr old piebald sports horse gelding Jester (Dripshill Dream Maker), by the sire Greenbank Harlequin.
Holly has owned Jester for nearly 3yrs but previously backed and schooled him for the previous owner. People who knew him as a 3yr old can’t believe the difference in him now as he was barely 14.2 at the time of being backed and when friends heard Holly had bought him they were confused as to why! But now they see the reason as he has turned into a little powerhouse competition horse and has grown to 15.2, although he’s still often known as ‘lil man’!
2016 was a good year! They kick started the season with 13th place at the JAS series final, then continued the season with 5 top 10 placings, including 3 seconds and a win at Llanymynech in the BE100. On Holly’s birthday Jester gave her the best birthday present ever with 2nd place and qualification for Badminton’s MMC BE90 at the Dauntsey Park Regional Final, finishing on their dressage score of 26! “Great way to spend a birthday”, Holly said and went on to add: “Where else would I want to be!… out competing with Mum and Oscar (the Labrador), Mark Todd was there helping with the showjumping ring and then at the prize giving getting my qualifying ticket for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton for May 2-3 2017!”
Holly wants to give a huge shout out to mum Alison Chivers who always supports her at events, usually on camera and dog duty (Oscar doesn’t like the lorry leaving without him!) Not being a horsey mother at all she’s come a long way and will now happily hold Jester when ever needed and even walk him off after the XC once he’s been washed down. Alison’s main worry about Badminton was the sleeping arrangements, as she didn’t fancy sleeping in the lorry, but thankfully she has booked a camper-van, so all should be well now !
Holly and Jester are sponsored by Gemma Hobbs of Ocean Blue Equine who provide printed and embroidered equestrian clothing for both horse and rider to your own personal requirements. Holly is trained by Bryony Wilson and also has flatwork sessions with Lucy Farrer who works with Bryony. Being on the same wave length with their training ideas they can cross notes with each other for the jumping and dressage training.
Saffron Cresswell, 16 from Malvern, is no stranger to success having already won medals with the GB Pony eventing team but this time teams up with Up Mulberry Street (by Primitive Proposal) for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup BE100 at Badminton.
Saffron is aiming high with her eventing career, hoping to be an Olympic event rider one day. It looks to be going to plan so far having ridden Cuffesgrange Little Ric at the European Pony Eventing Championships and helping the GB team win Gold in 2015 and Silver in 2016 as well as being placed 5th individually both years. She produced her first horse to finish the 2016 season with a win in the CIC* young horse class at Aldon and qualified for the young horse equine talent pathway with the BEF. She was also 5th at Aldon in the BE100 3 day event with ‘Up Mulberry Street’ where she gained her MMC Badminton qualification. She rides 7-10 horses a day despite still being at school and after her forthcoming GCSE’s will be going to Hartpury Equine College to study equine business. She is sponsored by NAF, Sam Snow Farrier, Harry Dabbs Saddles and Hayley Marsh Physio.
Good luck to all riders competing at Badminton.
You can keep up with the main competition by visiting www.badminton-horse.co.uk
and the MMC www.mitsubishimotorscup.badminton-horse.co.uk