Andrew Nicholson is on form, while Lauren Innes holds her nerve in a competitive three-star section and an Irish rider makes a worthwhile journey to Bicton Arena (3), Devon on 22–25 October
DESPITE battling rainstorms over the weekend, riders in the international classes at Bicton Arena Horse Trials (3) were full of praise for the undulating cross-country course, including Rathbones CCI3*-L section B winner Andrew Nicholson.
The New Zealander steered nine-year-old Monbeg Exclusive to victory in the long-format class, adding 1.2 time-penalties across country to their dressage of 28.2.
“I have been competing him since 2019 and he came from my friend and Italian rider Stefano Brecciaroli,” said Andrew. “He got him as a three-year-old from Ireland; we often swap around horses and I go over every year and work with him.
“Monbeg Exclusive has gone up the grades really well. We did the CCI3*-L at Lignières at the end of last season, he went well but it was probably a bit too early for him. He’s a straight-forward horse with a great mind and is a good galloper, which suits Bicton.”
The son of OBOS Quality 004 is up for sale.
“I am buying to sell more these days, as I am not getting any younger,” Andrew quipped. “He would be a nice one to keep, but I will try to sell him first.”
Frenchman Gaspard Maksud and Zaragoza II finished 1.9 penalties adrift, with Heidi Coy (Carrigsean Tigerseye) in third.
“Gaspard was at my yard when he first came over from France and he has now built up a strong team of horses,” added Andrew. “He had beaten me in a few one-day events leading up to Bicton, so I thought I can’t let him also beat me in an international class!”
The cross-country in the CCI3*-L produced 76.7% clear rounds.
“I JUST WENT AS FAST AS I COULD”
RECENTLY qualified chartered accountant Lauren Innes secured AJ’s Equestrian Boutique CCI3*-S section C with her own 10-year-old Global Fision M.
It was tight at the top in this section, with the leading trio – including eventual runner-up Tom Jackson (Ask For Manchier) and third-placed Will Rawlin (Ballycoog Breaker Boy) – all posting 25.7 dressage scores. They headed into Sunday’s cross-country having also produced clear showjumping rounds, so the pressure was well and truly on.
“I was last to go in the section, but I knew what I had to do – it was all down to which of us three could be the quickest across country,” said Lauren. “I just went as fast as I could, but fortunately ‘Flipper’ is naturally quick.”
Lauren picked up just 0.4 of a time-penalty to take the honours.
“I was just so shocked to win because it was such a competitive field. It was all so surreal.”
Lauren and the son of Flipper D’Elle had rerouted to Bicton after withdrawing from Burnham Market and then losing a run when Dutch horse trials Kronenberg was cancelled.
“Bicton organiser Helen West was a great help allowing us onto the wait-list at such short notice. Flipper blew up in the dressage at Burnham Market, so we pulled him out. Because of Covid, he hasn’t been out much but he was much more relaxed at Bicton on a surface,” added Lauren.
“I got him as a five-year-old from Ireland and we know each other very well. He’s a quirky horse and was a nightmare in the cross-country warm-up. I had to get off him to calm him down. The anticipation was all too much for him, but once he’s in the start box, he’s a professional.”
“I’M NOT GIVING HIM BACK!”
GEORGIE STRANG dominated Symonds & Sampson CCI2*-L section A on Jakzent Tren, a former ride of her partner Jesse Campbell. They finished on their impressive dressage score of 24.9.
“His owner, Sarah Moffat, is a great owner for Jesse and I, and she backed him herself as a three-year-old. He is called ‘Sharpy’ at home because he was known to be a sharp youngster,” said Georgie. “He went hunting as a four-year-old before Jesse started riding him.
“We swapped the ride at the beginning of 2020, after Jesse thought he would suit my style of riding. I got on with him straight away; I’m not giving him back!”
She added: “He’s a tall, narrow horse and bred to showjump by Harley VDL. He doesn’t find dressage the easiest, so I was very proud of his dressage mark.”
Georgie believes the long-format particularly suits “consistent” Sharpy because it gives him an extra day to settle.
“He’s naturally talented and has an amazing brain, he’s improved so much over the past year. It was his first long-format event so I thought he might tire up the Bicton hills, but he felt great. He tries so hard – if in doubt, he just jumps higher.”
Tom Jackson also played bridesmaid in this section aboard HH Moonwalk, with Georgina Herrling (Kilpatrick Knight) third.
“WE’RE COMPETITIVE FROM THE START”
YOUNG Irish rider Alex Power made a fleeting visit across the Irish Sea to the Devon venue, returning with silverware courtesy of his win aboard Lord Seekonig in Bond Timber CCI2*-S section D.
“He’s been slow to mature but he’s really come into his own this year,” said Alex, 21, of the German-bred seven-year-old gelding who has been with the rider since he was four.
“He is a kind-natured horse, who always tries hard and enjoys his dressage. Being good on the flat means we can be competitive from the start, and it always puts us in a good position.”
The Co Kildare-based rider is studying business and law, while also having a keen interest in buying and selling racehorses alongside eventing.
The pair finished on their dressage of 30.2, with Jemima Upton (Centre Stage) in second and Saskia Davies (Singing Usk) in third.
Katie Burton and Cornish Cabochon topped the leaderboard in Bond Timber CCI2*-S section E, staying on their 28.8 dressage and beating Polly Schwerdt (Jackpot) by 0.6 of a penalty, with Toots Bartlett and Candyman Leanorth in third.
Report also published in H&H magazine, on sale 5 November 2020
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