Cornbury House Horse Trials: a first-time international winner, plus riders bounce back from season-ending injuries

  • Laura Schrøter breaks her international duck, while riders seal their recoveries from season-ending injuries at Cornbury House Horse Trials in Oxfordshire

    LAURA SCHRØTER landed the first international win of her career, heading the massive CCI3*-S section A at Cornbury House Horse Trials on Willem Van Wup.

    This flashy mover led from the dressage, securing victory with a clean sheet on 24.4. The 12-year-old Dutch-bred gelding has been competing at four-star, but was rebuilding after a virus.

    “He’s an established horse so I was hoping he’d run well, but he had a flat period in August and bad blood tests,” said Laura, 26. “I felt out of practice and wanted a good prep run before Lignières. I felt a bit of pressure not to mess up, but he was pretty perfect. He’s cheeky and knows he’s the top boy, but just loves the job.”

    Brand-new five-star winner Gemma Tattersall took second on her promising seven-year-old Johan-Some, with Georgie Spence and Feloupe third.

    The top four finished on their dressage scores and there were 34 double jumping clears, but there was plenty of trouble in the jumping phases of this 99-strong section. Seventeen retired or were eliminated, with three failing to complete the showjumping.

    The event proved very popular with competitors, with no expense spared on ensuring excellent ground in every phase, as well as beautifully built and dressed tracks.

    Cornbury House Horse Trials CCI3*-S elite

    Cornbury is clearly a four-star in the making, and among the event’s innovations was a CCI3*-S elite (section B), for riders ranked in the world’s top 200.

    Piggy March took an early lead with a 24.4 dressage on I Diablo Joe, but lowered three rails and withdrew. The dressage runner-up, world number 98 Tom Jackson (Capels Hollow Drift), seized the advantage, banking the £2,500 winner’s cheque with a double clear inside the time.

    The 10-year-old grey, owned by Milly Simmie, Patricia Davenport and Sarah Webb, has been knocking at the door of a big win all season, finishing eighth at Bicton CCI4*-L.

    “He’s a super horse and we have high hopes for his future,” said Tom. “It was nice he performed in the way he was supposed to.”

    Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift at Cornbury House Horse Trials

    Bubby Upton passed her self-imposed test to be ready for Blenheim Horse Trials this weekend, jumping three cross-country clears in this section and finishing runner-up on Cannavaro. Bubby broke eight vertebrae and her collarbone six weeks prior to Cornbury and this was her second comeback event.

    “I am now riding five horses a day at home, but I need rests, so I’m relieved I felt back in my groove competing three,” she said. “At Wellington, I was not quite myself, a bit indecisive, but I was pleased with how I rode today.

    “Cannavaro is the most rewarding horse. I only got him when he was 10, and he’s a phenomenal jumper, a machine cross-country, but the dressage has only come right this year.”

    Phoebe Locke – another younger rider making a comeback after a serious fall in the summer – caught the eye on Pica D’Or in third. They were eighth after dressage, but the 18-year-old bay skipped round David Evans’ big, bold track to move up.

    Cornbury House Horse Trials young riders’ CCI3*-S

    Another rider returning from major injury headed the young riders’ CCI3*-S. Tom Woodward, 19, suffered a compound leg fracture in a “horse-related, but non-riding accident” in March, two days before the first young rider trial. Following an operation, he was told his season was over, yet he was back competing in mid-July. Riding Low Moor Lucky, he finished on his second-placed dressage of 31.7.

    “When I look back to how the season started, I can’t believe this,” said Tom. “I have good days and bad days, I’m still icing the leg and may need another operation. But this horse is so consistent – he’s flashy and has a scopey jump, and I have huge faith in him.”

    Low Moor Lucky, is so-called because he is lucky to be alive. He was so dangerous as a young horse that his breeders feared it wasn’t safe to keep him.

    “He was only backed aged nine, and started eventing the following autumn,” said his rider Tom Woodward. “He was so wild that it took them four years to back him. He’s so calm now, you’d never know. He’s very friendly when he knows you and he digs so deep for me.”

    Tom believes the 14-year-old will step up to four-star.

    “He doesn’t have much blood, but he keeps surprising me; he’s strong and has the heart of a lion. I hope the fact he’s so low-mileage means he’ll have extra years at the top of his game.”

    The runaway dressage leader, Millie Juleff (All We Need), broke a frangible pin but still wound up third, just behind Ellie Fredericks on the “special” stallion Britannias Mail, son of her mother Lucinda Fredericks’ treble CCI5* winner, Headley Britannia.

    Two-star sections

    Finn Healy, 17, won the two-star equivalent on Michelle Pritchard’s Fathers Compromise on their leading dressage of 26.7. Finn kept his cool in a tight tussle for victory with Harry Finch (Great Guy), 3.2 penalties adrift. Keeva Johnson and Cornasaus Lad were third.

    This is 2019 European pony champion Finn’s second season on horses, and it was a big step up to this 17hh mare.

    “She’s come on a long way this year, and I feel we’re hitting top form,” said Finn on the pair’s third win this season. “She did a great test and was smooth across country. We had a heavy rub in the showjumping but Lady Luck was on our side.”

    Aussie Isabel English headed CCI2*-S section D riding her home-bred Cil Dara Dallas, ahead of Caroline Harris (Pepper Poldark). The top six were bunched within a rail, with eventual fourth Mollie Summerland forfeiting top spot after her dressage leader Flow 7 knocked one down.

    “Dallas’ dam is a mare my parents bought as a yearling from Wendy Schaeffer’s base, Koyuna, with thoroughbred lines,” said Isabel, who is based with Kevin McNab. “The mare is quirky and so is he. He has the odd blip, but when he does it all well, he’s great.”

    Tom McEwan and Brookfield Braveheart win CCI-S 2 Star Sec C

    Tom McEwen won the remaining CCI2-S* section, riding Brookfield Braveheart on a brilliant score of 23. Europeans-bound Kitty King was second on RSH Monbeg Marshall.

    Intermediate sections

    Kitty’s Europeans team-mate Piggy March piloted Brookfield Inocent to top open intermediate (OI) section R on the horse’s final prep run before Avenches.

    Two other European-bound horses ran in the OIs: Allstar B (Ros Canter) went steadily cross-country for 13th in section P, while Monkeying Around (Izzy Taylor) was withdrawn when leading after showjumping on 22.7 in section O. However, Izzy won OI section P on the Pau-bound Fonbherna Lancer, rerouted after retiring “a bit green” at Bicton. Laura Collett and Mr Bass won the remaining OI on their dressage of 25.9.

    The intermediate sections went to Lizzie Baugh (Carlingfords Hes A Clover), Stephen Heal (Quidam De Lux) and Selina Milnes (Cooley Snapchat).

    Sadly, Victoria Palmer’s mare Szanel, ridden by Lucy Robinson in the CCI3*-S, fractured a foreleg at the penultimate fence, 20c, a skinny house on a dog-leg, and was put down. The fence was later removed. Lucy was not injured.

    • This exclusive report can also be read in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 16 September

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