Oliver Townend is novice champion at Festival of British Eventing

  • Oliver Townend and Jeepers Creepers win the Dodson & Horrell Novice Championship at Gatcombe, while Mary King leads the Open Championship and Ruth Edge the intermediate, reports Catherine Austen

    Dodson & Horrell Novice Championship

    Oliver Townend won the Dodson & Horrell Novice Championship at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe today on Olivia Tappin’s Jeepers Creepers. Eighth after dressage, the pair added nothing to their score of 30.8 and finished 3.6pen ahead of Sharon Hunt and the seven-year-old Azeb.

    Olivia evented the nine-year-old Jeepers Creepers herself until this time last year, when she handed the ride to Oliver.

    “He’s not the easiest in his mouth, which can make him difficult to steer, but he’s a good mover and is very genuine to a fence,” said Oliver, for whom it was a second win in the novice championship after Best Of Spirits’ victory five years ago.

    Listen to Oliver Townend’s interview

    Jeepers Creepers jumped one of just nine clear showjumping rounds in the novice championship, which none of the first three after dressage — Lucinda Fredericks on Flying Finish and William Fox-Pitt on Fernhill Highlight and Bay My Hero — could emulate. Vicky Tuffs was the only other competitor to stay on her dressage score, rising from 31st to third on Sir Robert Hayman-Joyce’s Nothing Ventured.

    Fourth was Angus Smales, riding the Puissance mare Chanterelle, who was unlucky to have the final fence down after jumping an excellent showjumping round. Ruth Edge and Master Zero were fifth, and Vittoria Panizzon (Borough Pennyz) was sixth.


    The two advanced sections went to Louise Skelton and Dan Jocelyn. Louise, on her trusty four-star campaigner Bit Of A Barney, capitalised on a clear round showjumping by racing round Gatcombe’s undulating track for the second fastest time of the day and a final score of 39.2.

    “He’s my favourite horse!” said Louise who, along with her mother Jackie, bred the 15-year-old bay out of her Pony Club mare. “He’s quite nippy up and down hill because if you stop kicking him he stops going, which means he is easy to turn, much more than a hard-pulling horse.”

    New Zealander Dan also won on a four-star regular, the Criminal Law-sired Special Advocate, who also jumped a rare double clear with just 8.4 time-faults. Dressage leader William Fox-Pitt didn’t rush Seacookie for 19.2 time-faults and second place.

    “He’s always been a very strong horse, which is why I never had the balls to let him run — it could be quite frightening,” said Dan, who has dressage help from Laura Bechtolsheimer and was competing a horse she owns and rides in the novice championship. “But this year he’s been far better. It’s only taken until he was 16!”

    Both Special Advocate and his full-brother, Special Attorney, who was 10th in the other advanced section, now head to Burghley.

    British Eventing Open Championship & Smith & Williamson Intermediate Championship

    Mary King leads the British Eventing Open Championship, lying first on Imperial Cavalier and second on Kings Temptress on 28.9 and 29.7 respectively. Oliver Townend and Ashdale Cruise Master are third, but Oliver doesn’t plan to run the grey across country. Paul Tapner’s two rides, Inonothing and Stormhill Michael, are fourth and sixth, split by Sam Griffith (Happy Times) on 31.9.

    “Archie [Imperial Cavalier} did a beautiful test with just two little mistakes,” said Mary, “and Tessa [Kings Temptress] was faultless for her.”

    Mary is hoping for more rain overnight after heavy showers today, but says that Mark Phillips has “tried very hard” with the ground.

    Listen to Mary King’s interview

    Ruth Edge and Applejack II are top in the Smith & Williamson Intermediate Championship with a mark of 26.9. Lucinda Fredericks nipped into second late in the day on Prada with the only other scores in the 20s — 29.4 — while Oliver Townend is third on ODT Sonas Roviato with 30.1, just ahead of Rodney Powell (Happy Go Lucky) on 30.6.

    Stay in touch with all the action from Gatcombe on Horseandhound.co.uk throughout the weekend, and don’t miss H&H’s full report on all the action from the Festival of British Eventing, on sale Thursday 12 August

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