Rider bounces back from Badminton disappointment to win Barbury: ‘I deleted all my social media apps’

  • Mollie Summerland and Charly Van Ter Heiden proved they have put a disappointing Badminton behind them by topping the CCI4*-S in the Keyflow Feeds Barbury Horse Trials results.

    The pair, CCI5* winners at Luhmühlen Horse Trials last year, posted such a stunning dressage mark – 18.7, the best at the level by a British rider since 2014 – that they were able to afford a showjump down and 14 cross-country time-penalties and still maintain a cushion of 3.1 penalties over Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On.

    The Italian judge at C, Nice Attolico Guglielmi, awarded Mollie and the elegant black 13-year-old Charly Van Ter Heiden a 10 for their entry and first halt, setting the tone for the test, and did the same for their final centre line and halt.

    “I knew it was a good test, but I didn’t expect a record-breaking mark!” said Mollie.

    “I’ve been working really hard on the showjumping, because it’s something I need to get more confidence and ring-practice in. He jumped out of his skin here – the only fence he touched the whole way round was the one coming out of the combination, where I just got a bit tight myself. I should have trusted him, but it was one of the nicest rounds he’s done.”

    Their Badminton came to an end with refusals at the jump into the Mars water complex, and Mollie admitted that she was “a little bit nervous” about the similar question at the main arena water at Barbury. They popped in happily, however, and nothing on Alec Lochore’s cross-country track appeared to ruffle their feathers.

    “He prefers attacking riding – he’s a nervous horse, and the slower I go, the higher he jumps. We have our best rounds when I am really positive, but I wanted to take enough time to make the turns smooth,” said Mollie, who also admitted she had found her retirement at Badminton hard to deal with after her win at the level last year.

    “I felt a lot of pressure in the run-up to Badminton, and when it went wrong I took quite a long time to come back from that. I deleted all my social media apps for a while and that was really refreshing – to take a step back, focus on myself and take some time back in my own little bubble.”

    She dropped Charly Van Ter Heiden down to intermediate level for three runs, resisting the temptation to tackle anything bigger until Barbury.

    “Initially I wanted to go straight out and redeem myself, but giving ourselves the chance to regroup was the right decision. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and I felt that his confidence was knocked as much as mine was,” Mollie said. “The feeling that he is enjoying his job again is what I am most happy about.”

    Barbury Horse Trials results: Funnell in second

    Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On’s Badminton had ended prematurely at the same jump into water as Mollie and Charly Van Ter Heiden’s, and successful negotiation of the similar question at the Keyflow water here was probably as satisfactory as their second place overall.

    A dressage mark of 23.4 meant they were runners-up at that stage, and their showjumping round was impeccable.

    Barbara and Nicholas Walkinshaw’s Billy Walk On is a big, strong model of a classic three-day event horse, and not the most obvious candidate for nipping round Barbury’s tight turns and twisting undulations. However, 16.8 time-faults and a finishing score of 40.2 allowed the pair to hold off third-placed Fiona Kashel and Creevagh Silver De Haar by just under a penalty.

    “He felt very good this week – it was nice that he wiggled his head and bucked and felt very happy, as I didn’t have any of that at Badminton. He felt flat all week there,” said Pippa.

    Billy Wonder, on whom Pippa was third after dressage with 24.7, retired after an early cross-country stop.

    Fiona Kashel has made her mark on Barbury in recent years – she had three horses in the top 12 in this class in 2021, and Creevagh Silver De Haar also finished sixth in 2018.

    “Because he isn’t strong, the undulations here suit him as I can keep bowling on, up and down,” she explained.

    A first-phase score of 31.5 left them just outside of the top 20.

    “He has kissing spines, which we medicate, so he’s always a bit tight in the canter, but he’s very level-headed and stays with me,” she said. “He’s a pleasure to ride – not uber-talented, but so easy.”

    Their 9.2 cross-country time-faults were only undercut by Wills Oakden on Arklow Puissance’s 8.8, which elevated them from 52nd after dressage to sixth. Felicity Collins (RSH Contend Or) and Zara Tindall (Class Affair) filled fourth and fifth places.

    The cross-country caused its problems, with several riders, most of whom didn’t manage sufficient control over the first drop element, caught out by a subsequent frangible corner off a turn at the base of the quarry. There were a couple of unexpected stops at the upright rails into the final water, including French championship combination Christopher Six and Totem De Brecey.

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