A Frenchman takes his first international victory on a horse who was written off by vets, while a promising seven-year-old claims a two-star in his first season eventing at South of England (2), Sussex
GASPARD MAKSUD took his first-ever international win in the South Eastern Equestrian Services Ltd CCI3*-S at South of England (2), on a horse who was written off by vets three years ago. Now eight, Anita Fergusson-Cunningham’s Spirit’s Gemini finished on his dressage score of 33.3, less than half a penalty in front of Tarka Abraham on Vamoose.
“When he was five, vets said he should never be ridden, because of his back issues,” said the British-based French rider. “But the more muscle and topline he gets, the stronger he is. With the right training, we’ve got over his issues. As a five-year-old he was very weak, but he’s turned a corner, and I think next year he’ll be even better.”
The win was also a first for the British-bred Templar Spirit gelding, for whom flatwork and building strength has been key.
“Someone else might get on him and think, ‘What the hell is this horse?’” said Gaspard. “But I know him so well, and every day, he gets better and better. He always tries, and you need a horse who tries for you. I’m so happy for Anita, who’s trusted me with him, and for the horse, because he’s got the result he deserves.”
Gaspard said Scott Brickell’s track was not the biggest or most technical, but there can be spooky elements here, and the time was tight, partly due to the hilly going.
“He’s a fast horse, and blood – he’s half thoroughbred – but I knew we’d have to attack from the minute we left the start box, and we did,” he said.
“He’s got the X factor”
IBBLE WATSON won the NAF junior CCI3*-S at South of England (2) with what she said was one of the worst dressage tests Aristoteles SZ has ever done.
The Arko III x Heartbreaker 10-year-old, whom Ibble has had since he was a yearling, has been a challenge to produce, but he led throughout, adding four cross-country time-faults to his 31.9 dressage, to finish just over two penalties ahead of DHI Chilli Start and Sophie Hodgson.
This is his biggest win yet, at only his second three-star.
“It’s good experience for him, but he has been awful today!” Ibble said. “It was one of the worst dressage tests he’s done, because of the whole atmosphere, but he loves cross-country.”
The combination produce a beautiful clear round in the showjumping; Aristoteles’ discipline before he moved into eventing last season.
“He’s always got your corner,” said Ibble’s mother Erica. “Sometimes a bit too much, as he anticipates in the dressage and starts giving you half-passes, tempi changes and piaffe. He’s got so much jump; he almost lands two strides out from where he should, but it’s been brilliant for her riding.
“He’s really clever and such a show-off; he’s got the X factor, but he’s also an idiot. He wears a seatbelt in the lorry [a harness to stop him rearing], he unties himself and haynets – it doesn’t matter what knot you use – he wears about eight headcollars because he takes them off, and his bridle. He’s very exuberant, and we’re trying to work on him to be calmer; I’m just surprised he’s not the one driving the lorry home.
“He’s an idiot, but in a good way – and he’s for sale!”
“Quirky” future star shines at South of England (2)
MOLLIE SUMMERLAND had not seen her Batcheller Monkhouse CCI2*-S winner Flow 7 until he stepped off the lorry at her yard last autumn – but she was pleased with her purchase.
The seven-year-old dislodged one showjumping rail but jumped clear across country to win at South of England (2) on 30 penalties, 0.3 of a penalty ahead of Harriet Colderick on Ashwey Laurenzo.
This is the German-bred gelding’s first season eventing, having been bought by Mollie, and Paula and Adrian Cloke, last October.
“I bought him off the internet; I saw a photo and video and thought, ‘He looks nice!’” said Mollie, who is very excited about the For Romance x De Niro youngster’s future.
“His showjumping is still building but he’s been knocking on the door,” she said. “We weren’t expecting any world-beating results this season so I’m so happy he’s had his first international win, and on his owners’ home turf.”
Mollie works with Olivia Oakeley and Carl Hester on flatwork, as the “quirky” 17hh gelding is green and needs to build strength – and Mollie thinks he has better marks to come.
“The dressage today was good enough but I made a couple of mistakes; it’s really exciting that he’s got more to give,” she said. “He was really good across country; the time felt a bit tight but Jenny [Nolan, the organiser] and the team here have done an amazing job. This is an event I always try to come to.”
Mollie will contest Flow’s second CCI2*-L at Osberton.
“I don’t know how he’ll cope with the atmosphere in the showjumping, but it’s all about experience,” she said. “I’m really excited about this horse; he’s one for next season and beyond.”
Kate Honey had intended to step Piccolo V up to intermediate this season, but breaking six ribs, lacerating her spleen and puncturing a lung in a fall in spring put something of a spanner in the works.
Not for long though; after a few weeks, she and the nine-year-old Pall Mall H gelding came back to contest five at that level, winning their sixth here at South of England (2). They added a showjumping rail and 9.6 cross-country time-faults, the least in their section, to their 28.2 dressage score.
“He’s quite a personality, and he really wants to do it,” Kate said. “Even if I’m a bit wrong, he tries his heart out.”
Sam Griffiths and Paulank Kings River took the open intermediate; their 5.6 cross-country time-faults was again the fastest round of their section, and one rail showjumping gave a winning total of 38.
The 13-year-old Kings Master gelding was bred by Frank and Paula Cullen, who also bred Sam’s 2014 Badminton winner Paulank Brockagh.
- This exclusive report will also be available in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 30 September
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