Eventing 2019 nostalgia: best of April – breakout stars, double wins and Jonty Evans rides in public again

  • Do you miss the eventing season? We do too. So, to brighten up your coronavirus lockdown day, we have looked back at H&H’s April 2019 eventing reports to bring you the big winners, an emotional story and the controversy we’d almost forgotten…

    The breakout stars

    The equine sensation of April was Figaro Van Het Broekxhof, who scored his first major international win when he took the Lycetts Grantham Cup at Belton for owner Barbara Cooper and rider  Tom McEwen. “I didn’t come with this result in mind – I wanted him to go as well as he could, but in a section of more than 100, I wasn’t really expecting this,” said Tom.

    On the rider side, Mollie Summerland caught the eye when she was third in the Grantham Cup on her 2018 young rider Europeans horse, Charly Van Ter Heiden. The then-20-year-old said: “He’s only 18% thoroughbred and I learnt from Pippa Funnell all about hacking up the hills to get them really fit and how to get more foreign horses up to speed.”

    Quote of the month

    “My job is very boring, so I need an exciting hobby,” said Italian amateur eventer Paolo Belvederesi after winning an intermediate at South of England (1). And his job? He works in asset management as an investment advisor. No, we don’t know what means either…

    Impressive doubles

    Nicola Wilson won both advanced sections at Weston Park, on Yacabo BK – a relatively new ride for her who had joined the Yorkshire rider the previous summer after being produced by Andrew Nicholson – and Bulana, with whom she took individual bronze at the 2017 European Championships.

    And Oliver Townend extended his winning tally in the CCI4*-S sections at Burnham Market to an extraordinary 12 since 2007 when he landed both sections, riding Cillnabradden Evo and Ballaghmor Class. “It’s the first event of the year I set out to be really competitive at,” explained Oliver. “The ground here is very honest; you know what you’re getting and it’s very consistent going. When you’ve been to an event for many years you have a good feel for how the horses will come out of it, and they always come out of this well. It comes at the perfect time of year and sets them up for their big five-star runs.”

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    The theme

    One recurring aspect of this month was wins for those providing maternity cover on world champion Ros Canter’s horses. Tom Jackson took the open intermediate at South of England (1) on Pencos Crown Jewel, while Tom McEwen had a win at the same level at Belton on No Excuse.

    An emotional win

    Morven Pringle scored an emotional win at Dalkeith (1) when she partnered Miss Contender to win a novice section. Morven took over the ride on the mare when her previous owner and rider, her best friend Natasha Galpin, was tragically killed in a racing accident at the beginning of 2019. “Her parents approached me in January and asked me whether I would take her on. Of course I was honoured to,” explained Morven. “It was an emotional day as Natasha’s father, Richard, came to watch – as he always used to when Tasha was competing. We had a wee drink and there were a few tears shed in the evening.”

    Controversy of the month

    The FEI flag rule. Protests, scoreboard changes and commentary on the issue by H&H columnists abounded. At Bicton Arena (1), eventual winners Chris Burton and Lawton Chloe were initially penalised under the new rule before the faults were removed.

    And also…

    Jonty Evans rode Cooley Rorkes Drift (“Art”) in public at Belton, for the first time since his cross-country fall at Tattersalls in June 2018, which resulted in a serious head injury and left him in a coma for six weeks. “What people have done for me is off the scale,”, Jonty told the crowd, adding his biggest thanks were for his children, Mia and Charlie.

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