Top young eventing talent crowned at Osberton Horse Trials

  • Stephen Heal and Quidam De Lux claim the closely fought seven-year-old championship at Osberton, while an Australian rider has Olympic hopes for his three-star winner

    THE British Eventing CCI3*-S seven-year-old championship at Osberton Horse Trials, Notts, was nail-biting until the end, with 28-year-old Stephen Heal and Quidam De Lux winding up as the victors. They were second after the cross-country phase, but overnight leaders Kitty King and MHS Monbeg Junior lowered three rails, dropping them to 14th.

    “I never came here thinking I would win,” said an emotional Stephen. “This horse is very talented and he’s been amazing all year. It’s fantastic for Gemma Borkowski, who I jointly own him with, too.”

    The pair led after the dressage on a 26.3, but Stephen said it wasn’t a completely mistake-free test.

    “There are things in the dressage that aren’t perfect yet – his half passes are still green and it was quite windy so he was distracted by the tents,” he explained. “He’s a very natural mover, but he hasn’t always been the easiest in the mouth so it’s taken a while to get the scores he deserves.”

    Stephen credits Ian Woodhead for the progress in the son of Boswell Mr Heartbreaker’s performance on the flat.

    “Ian has transformed his way of going, but he’s always been a very brave, careful and scopey jumper,” said the rider who, following stints working for Oliver Townend, Alex Bragg and Alexander Whewall, has now set up on his own in Broadway.

    “‘Mario’ is a very genuine horse. I lost a stirrup and one rein at the final water and nearly fell off, which cost us our 0.4 of a time-fault and then dropped us to second going into the showjumping – but he looked for the flags and just kept going.”

    Hayden Hankey was second with his own and Catherine Witt’s son of OBOS Quality 004, Heads Up, finishing on their 28.5 dressage.

    “I was very optimistic coming into this week,” said Hayden. “I’m on a very good horse with very good form.”

    Heads Up has already enjoyed a very successful career, winning the working hunter of the year championship at the Horse of the Year Show in 2019, and also finished runner-up in the six-year-old eventing championships.

    “He’ll be an even better horse in a couple of years as he is quite big and a bit like a jelly bean at the moment, as he’s lacking core strength,” explained Hayden. “But he’s ridiculously talented and he heads to Le Lion D’Angers for the seven-year-old World Championships.”

    CCI2*-S six-year-old championship

    JODIE AMOS said that her British Eventing CCI2*-S six-year-old winner, Rubin Moon SB, “peaked at the right time” to secure victory on his 27.7 dressage.

    Jodie Amos rides Rubin Moon to win the six-year-olds at Osberton Horse Trials

    “He’s a real keen bean and I’ve managed him carefully in his prep runs with the bigger picture in mind, so I’m delighted that’s paid off,” Jodie explained of the gelding by Rocco Granata, who is owned by Sara Brown. “He thinks he’s invincible, but I think he’ll be a real three-day horse as he thrives on getting on with the job and is a careful, nimble jumper and really quick-thinking, too.”

    The final showjumping phase caused some problems and Jodie was surprised to rise from fifth after the cross-country, thanks to an immaculate clear round.
    Piggy March had been in the lead riding John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn’s Brookfield Future News, having led from the start on their 24.9 dressage, but four faults dropped them to eventual second.

    “It was a shame to have the fence down, but he’s a fun little horse,” Piggy explained of the son of Future Trend. “He goes along in a really cute way, but actually when you get into him, there’s a lot more under his bonnet than he lets on in terms of more movement and more jump.”

    John and Chloe purchased this horse after he won the four-year-old event horse class at the Dublin Horse Show, describing him as “very straightforward” and a “gorgeous animal”.

    Five- and four-year-olds

    JOHN-PAUL SHEFFIELD won a closely fought British Eventing five-year-old CCI* with Vanessa Garfoot’s son of Cathmor Florian, Cathmor Fusio, who has won five of his six starts this season. They completed on their 26.4 dressage with William Fox-Pitt and Cayiano in second on 26.9.

    “He’s a very nice horse and he’s one for me to keep the ride on, which is exciting,” J-P explained. “His owner bought him as a foal and then Ginny Turnbull produced him beautifully until I took over the ride in February this year – hopefully he’ll keep progressing and will be back here next year for the six-year-olds.”

    Flora Harris took the British Eventing four-year-old showcase on Anna Sims-Hilditch’s MGH Hildare (by Firkov Du Rouet), who was bought from his breeder, Irish team rider Padraig McCarthy, as an unbroken three-year-old.

    Stallion tops CCI3*-L

    AUSTRALIA’S Kevin McNab topped the Bede Events CCI3*-L with the striking grey German-bred stallion Scuderia 1918 Humphreys. The pair completed on their 27.6 dressage, beating Brazil’s Marcio Carvalho Jorge and Castle Howard Casanova into second on 31.1 after cross-country leaders Izzy Taylor and Carolines Air KM lowered two rails, dropping them to eventual 12th.

    Kevin McNab is in winning form on Scuderia 1918 Humphreys

    “He is one of those horses who very rarely has a bad day – he is consistent and makes my life very easy,” laughed Kevin of the eight-year-old owned by Scuderia 1918. “He’s very brave and doesn’t have a weak phase. He actually hasn’t done that much, but I think he will be a great horse to aim for
    the Paris 2024 Olympics.”

    Twenty-year-old Toots Bartlett was delighted to score her first international victory when taking the Investec CCI2*-L with her own 11-year-old Freestyle R. The pair completed on their 26.8 dressage, with Will Rawlin and The Dominator, a seven-year-old owned by Parkfield Breeding, finishing second on 27.8

    “I don’t feel like Freestyle R and I know each other very well yet, as I only purchased him from Toby Piggott, who produced him to intermediate level, earlier this year,” explained Toots, who is about to set up on her own, renting a yard from William Fox-Pitt.

    “He’s really nice on the flat, but I’ve only gone cross-country on him three times before this event and I’ve struggled to find the right canter in the showjumping, so to win is fantastic.”

    Toots Bartlett riding Freestyle R

    Toots Bartlett was delighted to score her first international victory in the Investec CCI2*-L

    Will said his CCI2*-L runner-up came of age this week. A great deal of that could be credited to Will’s patience in getting into this horse’s brain and working with him.

    “He lacks self-confidence and he isn’t always on-side and rideable, but this week he really knuckled down and fulfilled more than I expected, which was a top-10 finish,” explained Will. “He’s a very exciting horse for the future, but also a horse that needs the groundwork cemented. Hopefully in the long run, the patience I’ve given him will pay off.”

    • This exclusive report will also be available in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 7 October

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