A new face came to the fore at the Festival of British Eventing, presented by BETA, at Gatcombe Park this afternoon (6 August).
Alexander Whewall, who runs a yard of 13 horses near Bristol, piloted Lisa Coward’s Chakiris Star (above) to victory in the intermediate championship.
“I can’t believe it,” smiled Alexander. “This is my first big win — my family and friends are crying in the lorry park.”
Alex and the 10-year-old Chakiris Star lay equal fourth after the dressage and recorded a quick double clear for eight cross-country time-faults. This was good enough to pip Oliver Townend and Master Trump by 0.9 of a penalty.
“This course suits my horse because he’s little, nippy and not strong,” added Alexander, 28, who trains with Lizzel Winter. “When I heard all the time penalties that riders were getting, I knew if I could keep him moving he could do it. I tried not to take too many pulls.”
Gatcombe’s undulating terrain makes it notoriously difficult to achieve the optimum time, and Master Trump pulled off the quickest clear for 3.6 time-faults.
Oliver was also the fastest rider to navigate the advanced track, a class he won on Dunbeau and finished second aboard Samuel Thomas II. He also piloted Dromgurrihy Blue into third.
Two-phase intermediate leaders Caroline Harris and Billy Bumble finished fourth after picking up 18 time-faults, while Emily King and Dargun slipped one place to third with 14.8 to add.
Louisa Lockwood, lying third, retired Shannondale Quest after two run-outs across country.
Whittington’s a winner
Francis Whittington claimed the novice championship riding Sarah Arrowsmith’s seven-year-old Evento.
“I was disappointed when I saw that I’d got [cross-country] time-faults — I thought maybe I’m getting old! — but then I saw that we were the fastest,” said Francis, who climbed to the top of the leaderboard from fifth after dressage despite Evento tipping one showjump and accruing two cross-country time penalties.
“He naturally really gallops and his stride is amazing,” added Francis of the horse he started campaigning last season. “There were places [on the course] where I could have let him go on and he would have put in one less stride, saving a second. But he’s seven years old and he doesn’t need to be pushed like that yet.”
Selina Milnes finished second on Iron IV, ahead of France’s Arthur Duffort riding Oaklands First Time.
Sharon Hunt and Veyga led after dressage, but wound up 12th with 11.6 cross-country time penalties to add.
A Cheeky lead
The British Open championship, incorporating the fourth leg of the Event Rider Masters CIC3* series, kicked off today and Andrew Hoy (Cheeky Calimbo) are the overnight leaders.
It’s been a good day for Oliver Townend, who lies second with Cillnabradden Evo, while Izzy Taylor (Briarlands Matilda) is in third.
This class showjumps at 11.45am tomorrow, ahead of the reverse-order cross-country phase at 2pm. Watch live here.
The Corinthian Cup, a restricted novice championship for amateur riders, also takes place tomorrow. Rebecca Woolley currently holds the lead on Zeno Das Gluck.
For results click here.
Don’t miss the full Festival of British Eventing report in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound, on sale Friday 12 March. H&H is published on Friday next week to allow us to include the Olympic eventing report.