‘Without Bramham, we’d be lost’ – a second generation winner scores in 50th anniversary year

  • Harry Meade scored his first British CCI4*-L win when he headed the Defender Bramham Horse Trials results this afternoon.

    Second after dressage and cross-country, Harry piloted Annaghmore Valoner to a clear to put the pressure on overnight leaders Tom Jackson and Ask For Manchier. When the grey hit the front rail of the oxer at fence one with his hind legs, it was all over. Tom dropped to fifth and Harry claimed top spot with the 12-year-old mare, owned by Dinah and Stephen Posford and their daughter Jules Carter.

    Harry said: “I don’t really look at the scoreboards – I just focused on my game plan. I was so pleased that we’d nailed it, in terms of the warm-up and the performance in the ring, that I came out and that was the success. I’d sort of forgotten about the competition.

    “I was with my wife Rosie and Jess Errington and Molly Parkin, my senior grooms, and then Oliver Townend came up and said, ‘You’ve won, Tom’s had the first fence down’ and my first words, were ‘Oh, no.’ I just try and focus on myself and particularly when it’s friends, you don’t like willing ill.”

    It was appropriate that Harry – the epitome of an old-fashioned event rider, for whom the long format will always be the supreme test – should win this class in this historic year, as Bramham celebrates its 50th anniversary.

    Much has been said this week about the fact the short format class had a much bigger entry and questions asked about whether the long format has a future – here and in the sport in general. But Bramham’s CCI4*-L is not only a prestigious class in its own right; it also remains a tremendously important preparation event for five-star, which every event rider still aspires to, and no one would value this victory more than Harry, whose father won here in Bramham’s second year, 1975.

    “It’s a special event that I grew up wanting initially to ride at and then to win. I think I first rode here 23 years ago,” said Harry.

    “Without Bramham, we’d be completely lost – how would we produce horses for the big five-stars without it? It is a fairly lone stepping stone. Maybe some people avoid coming here, whereas I like every horse to come to Bramham. We do the sport to be tested and this is a proper, meaty test where you can demonstrate how good your horses are.

    “But also it’s so fun, beautiful and horse and competitor friendly – I drive in, I find myself saying, ‘God I love this event’ And then I get out and I say, ‘God I love this event’ and then I keep saying it all day every day.”

    Bramham Horse Trials results - Harry Meade and Annaghmore Valoner win the CCI4*-L

    Harry Meade and Annaghmore Valoner showjump clear to win the Bramham CCI4*-L in June 2024. Credit: Peter Nixon

    Harry loves this mare, who he says is talented, a lovely person and a sensitive worrier. Having been third at Blenheim CCI4*-L last year, she will probably now go five-star.

    Harry elaborated: “For me, she has all the ingredients to be a five-star horse – the speed, the stamina, the bravery, the scope, her training in all three phases. The one thing is, she can get rattled very easily.

    “Cross-country, if you have to squeeze her somewhere or change speed that can slightly rattle her and it changes her breathing and heart rate and so I try and give her the smoothest possible ride. The higher you go up the grades, the more resilient horses have to be in terms of coping with things going slightly wrong. I’m conscious of that when she goes five-star; everything else I’d be happy with.”

    Bramham Horse Trials results: Warburton takes to podium

    Brit Max Warburton, 25, made a significant step up on his previous form at this level when he finished on his dressage score for second on The Paske Syndicate’s Deerpairc Revelry.

    “These are the sort of things you hope and dream for – I work day in day out and this is what all the hard work is for,” said Max, who also completed his first Badminton this spring, and learnt from that experience.

    “I think at Badminton I probably put myself under a lot of pressure. I wanted a big run and we had a completion, but actually we came away thinking just settle down, make a plan, don’t set out all gung ho. I was a bit more cool here and that definitely worked.”

    Ros Canter also showjumped clear on Lady Milnes Coates and Deirdre Johnston’s MHS Seventeen for third in the Bramham Horse Trials results. Both Max and Ros moved up one spot today.

    Ros said: “He is an amazing jumper, probably the best jumper I’ve ever had in the showjumping. The last upright I did just before I went in, I think everybody stopped to watch him. So he does fill you with confidence and he’s getting better and better. He used to be a little bit careful, a bit stiff, but now he’s getting really fluent as well.”

    Selina Milnes showjumped clear to rise one rank to fourth with the Ruckers’ Cooley Snapchat, the CCI4*-S winner here last year.

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