It was all change at the top in a dramatic final to the Spillers 80cm class at the H&H Festival of Eventing as Serena Allery and Pocket of Silver produced a faultless clear round to claim victory.
Management accountant Serena, 34, sat in third place overnight on a dressage of 28.5 after a clear cross-country round. An unfortunate three poles down slid overnight leader Clare Drury and Kingsleypark Panther to seventh place, clearing the way for Serena.
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Serena told H&H it felt amazing to win with her 10-year-old Irish sport horse Silver, who she has owned for nearly two years.
“I’m so excited to win, but I’m really sorry for the rider who had the amazing dressage and dropped three poles [Clare Drury]. Everyone has done so well all weekend,” she said.
“Coming into the showjumping I was a bit nervous knowing we were in third as I know Silver can drop a pole.”
Serena said Silver’s dressage was “pretty good” for the excitable gelding.
“In the cross-country we were doing fly-bucking in the warm-up which was interesting. In the round he was a bit strong to start with so I like to settle him. He can go very green on you, very suddenly, and goes from ‘I know what I’m doing’ to ‘no I don’t’! I was a bit worried with the water he might go ‘what’s that?’ so we trotted through so we didn’t have a silly stop.
“I’d rather he was sensible and learning. He got a bit strong coming out of the arena at the end of the cross-country so I brought him back and said ‘stop running away with me’ – I wanted a nice jump at the end.”
Serena tries to keep Silver’s focus by talking to the gelding throughout their rounds.
“It helps him concentrate on me. I’ve found he can forget he has a rider on his back if you’re not careful so I have to talk to him in the showjumping and cross-country – that’s a strategy of ours, and it helps me breathe a bit.
“We’re going to do a bit more training and work on the napping. He needs to be a bit more confident; although he’s strong and bold, he’s not the most confident horse. He’ll whinny out on cross-country and that’s him telling you he’s worried. I want to aim for the British Eventing (BE)80 championships this year if we can.”
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Serena said winning the event is Silver’s biggest achievement so far.
“It’s been a really friendly atmosphere, I’ve made some new friends who have been cheering me on. We’ve had so much fun,” she said.
Deborah Burrell and Imperial Tangle, who produced a clear round showjumping, finished in second place on their dressage of 28.5. Melanie Gatt, a former 70cm H&H Festival of Eventing winner, came in third place finishing on her dressage of 30.5 after clear rounds cross-country and showjumping.
Don’t miss the full report from the H&H Festival of Eventing in Horse & Hound magazine — on sale Thursday, 6 June.