AUSTRALIAN rider Brook Staples continued his best season for some time by winning the Dodson & Horrell Novice Championships at the Festival of British Eventing on the six-year-old DHI Vitesse.

A 28.5 dressage put them in 14th place, but a show jumping clear elevated them to the top of the leaderboard. And there they stayed, adding nothing across country.

The 16hh Dutch-bred DHI Vitesse belongs to Charlotte Fendell, who has him at home and competes him herself as well.

“He’s a little toughie, and a very good mover and jumper,” said Brook. “He hasn’t even done an intermediate, but he was superb across country – it was nothing to him.”

The plan is to take him to the six-year-old championships at Le Lion d’Angers in the autumn.

Just 0.2pen behind Brook was Francis Whittington, who added nothing to his 28.7 dressage mark for second place on Catherine Witt’s seven-year-old grey, Easy Target.

Third was Nicola Wilson riding Clare Lambert’s Rich Rebel eight-year-old Pricewise on a score of 30. A mark behind them was Ruth Edge and the 17.2hh Kilkee, while Oli Townend and Mercator Du Ry were fifth. Ruth Edge also took sixth place on Carnaval Prince II.

Matt Ryan led the dressage on Maybee IV, but a rail down in the show jumping and 4.4 time-faults dropped him to seventh.

Bill Levett, who lives just 40min from Gatcombe, posted another win for Australia, taking the sole advanced class on Hippolyte. A good dressage of 27 left him 0.3pen behind Ruth Edge and PC Wilson, and when Ruth picked up 14 faults in the show jumping, Bill capitalised on his lead with a fast cross-country time to win.

“He’s very sensitive, but a straightforward horse who is easy to organise into a fence and economical,” said Bill, who bought Hippolyte from Philip Adkins. “This is his first advanced win.”

Bill is aiming the Selle Francais gelding at Blenheim, and possibly Luhmuhlen next year.

Second was Oliver Townend on the smart Carousel Quest, while Andrew Nicholson finished third on Nereo and also sixth on Henry Tankerville. Andrew is the only Olympic rider competing at Gatcombe — he is flying out to Hong Kong straight afterwards.

Ruth Edge leads the British Eventing Open Championship on Mayhem III with a mark of 27.1, ahead of American rider Buck Davidson and Bally Noe Castle RM (29.7) and Rodney Powell with Zinzan II (30.3). Polly Williamson and Madam Folie Bergere are in pole position in the EHOA-Martin Collins Intermediate Championship.

Stay in touch with all the action from Gatcombe on and don’t miss H&H’s full report in next Thursday’s magazine