‘He gives me goosebumps in every phase’: Laura Collett and London 52 in winning ways in ‘mini Olympics’ at Aston-le-Walls *H&H Plus*

  • Laura Collett and London 52 continue their winning ways at this “mini Olympics”, and the world champion wins on her dressage score

    LAURA COLLETT and her five-star winner London 52 continued their run of blistering form with victory in the Dassett Eventing CCI4*-S section A (pictured), while reigning world champion Ros Canter claimed the other section aboard rising star Lordships Graffalo.

    Laura and the 12-year-old gelding, whom she co-owns with Karen Bartlett and Keith Scott, added nothing to their leading 20.5 dressage to win by a 2.4-penalty margin. The pair’s record now stands at five wins from six starts since October 2020, including Pau CCI5*-L and Little Downham CCI4*-S.

    “He gives me goosebumps in every phase,” said Laura. “He’s lush to ride on the flat, because he’s such a show-off, then when showjumping you feel like you could jump the moon, and across country he is so confident – he’s just like, ‘Come on Mum, let’s go!’ He is more than the horse I thought he was. He’s unbelievable.

    “There are so many competitive combinations that coming here felt like a mini Olympics in that section. You just know they are not going to make any mistakes behind you, so I felt like there was quite a lot of pressure today. But as soon as I was on him, I just enjoyed him as he is so special.”

    In second was Izzy Taylor and Monkeying Around, who added 0.4 of a showjumping time-penalty to their 22.5 dressage, with Tom McEwen and his Pau 2019 and 2018 world team gold medal-winning ride, Toledo De Kerser, in third.

    Tom McEwen and Toldedo De Kerser

    Captain Mark Phillips’ international course, which replaced cancelled Chatsworth and served as a pre-Olympic trial, was met with widespread acclaim from riders, as was the ground.

    The course opened with long, galloping stretches, before an intense midsection run over a new 800-metre loop, funded by the Horse Trials Support Group and Event Horse Owners Association. This made use of Aston’s arenas, water complexes and man-made undulations, and featured a rapid-fire sequence of accuracy questions.

    The double of brushes at 21ab, followed by the cannon brush at the bottom of the slope, added frustrating late penalties for some, including Tom McEwen and his second ride, Dreamaway II, who was lying third after dressage in section B.

    “It was a bit of a green mistake, the rest of the round he was top class,” said Tom. “As Andrew Nicholson’s comment said in Horse & Hound [22 April], at times you need these [moments] – if everything is perfect, you think everything is perfect.”


    Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo

    ROS and nine-year-old “Walter”, owned by Michele Saul, produced fault-free jumping performances to win Dassett Eventing CCI4*-S section B on their first-phase score of 21.8. Their clean jumping sheet pushed the pair ahead of dressage leaders Piggy March and Brookfield Quality, who picked up 1.6 cross-country time-faults to finish second.

    “It was probably the first time I’ve pushed him along speedwise and I was really impressed at how fast he is,” said Ros. “He took it all in his stride, he’s a lovely horse to ride across country because he can accelerate away from a fence and come back really quickly. The time felt relatively easy because even on the fiddly bits, I could push on for a few strides and then get him back again. He seems well suited to the short-format competitions.”

    Kitty King and her Burnham Market winner Cristal Fontaine were third, while her 2019 Europeans ride Vendredi Biats pulled a shoe so took it steady. Fourth went to Gemma Tattersall and Jalapeno III. This was the first international run for Chris Stone’s mare since sustaining a leg injury at Pau 2019.

    “She had all of last year off. We brought her back slowly, with lots of strengthening work,” said Gemma. “I was absolutely over the moon with how she went. She was a new ride for me in 2019; we had a full season together and some great results, but I always felt I was riding someone else’s horse, which I was as Karin [Donckers] had done an amazing job with her. Now she feels like she’s my horse and just felt incredible across country – she purred along.”

    Bubby Upton is establishing herself as a rider to watch in the senior ranks as she makes the step up on her first season out of young riders. The 22-year-old multiple youth medal-winner added another two top-10 placings to her four-star record, with fifth in section B on Cannavaro and seventh in section A on Cola III.

    “I was looking back through the results and I had to pinch myself. They have really shown their potential this week,” said Bubby, who finished on her dressage score on both rides.

    She added she has spent the winter focusing on how to get the best out of Cannavaro on the flat and has also been working on Cola’s showjumping with the help of Tina Fletcher.

    “I feel so lucky to ride these two horses; it’s been an amazing journey and we’ve learnt everything together,” she said.

    Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstål on Balham Mist and China’s Alex Hua Tian and his Rio 2016 Olympic ride Don Geniro were the highest-placed non-British riders, taking eighth place in section A and B respectively.

    The three advanced section winners all finished on their dressage scores: Tom McEwen (Class Affair), Fiona Kashel (Drumhowan Black Magic) and Tom Jackson (Forrest Gump 124).

    Tom Jackson also claimed an intermediate section aboard HH Moonwalk, while Laura Collett added an intermediate victory with Moonlight Charmer to her Aston haul.

    The Cadenza Eventing CCI2* proved a happy hunting ground for Eliza Stoddart, who won with De Pleasure and finished third and fifth with Idonna W and Codebreaker.

    Piggy March (I Diablo Joe) and Adam Harvey (Picasso V) were the open intermediate victors. The remaining intermediate sections were won by Kevin McNab (Vidalgo), Sian Davies-Cooke (Harthill Storm), Khia Cadney-Moon (Cooley Exchange), Gemma Tattersall (Johan-Some), Harry Meade (Russeljacket) and Tom Rowland (Quintilius).


    Sarah Bullimore COROUET

    SARAH BULLIMORE’S tiny talented home-bred Corouet (pictured) is blossoming from a young horse star into a serious top-flight contender. The “cocky” 15.2hh is the eldest offspring of Sarah’s five-star mare Lilly Corinne and by Balou Du Rouet. The 10-year-old gelding fits an enormous personality and ability into his pint-sized package.

    “There were some good bits in the dressage, but it wasn’t as good as it can be,” said Sarah, explaining a horse napping on the walkway next to his arena resulted in a bit of a “wibbly wobbly” first centre line as he shouted to his new friend.

    They followed up with an enthusiastic double clear to add nothing to their first phase score of 27.4, climbing 14 places to finish fifth in four-star section A.

    “He has always oozed class,” said Sarah. “He is getting better and better all the time. It’s so lovely that we’ve had him since day one, so it’s really special.”

    You can also read this report in the 20 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine.

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