Early riders react as they finish Bicton cross-country course: ‘There’s a lot to ask out of them’ *H&H Plus*

  • Find out what the first riders round the Bicton Horse Trials cross-country course said after they finished and where the main problems are

    The Bicton Horse Trials cross-country course for the CCI4*-L is causing plenty of problems, an hour into today’s competition supported by Chedington.

    The first rider out, Tom McEwen on Barbara Cooper’s Braveheart B, had one run-out at the arrowhead at fence 24b, the HTSG Brush Dilemma (pictured above; wrong fence numbers because this fence was re-numbered). He finished with 24.4 time-faults, having also taken one long route at the Course Designer’s Conundrum, the rail-ditch-corner combination at fence 15abcd.

    “There’s a lot to ask out of them,” said Tom. “I had a really stupid 20 penalties and probably should have gone for five strides rather than the forward four, but I’m delighted with how the horse went. He was on it and straight, he just never saw it.”

    Tom said he thinks the time is achievable for a rider with a more experienced horse, a view backed up by Laura Collett, who put in the first jumping clear with Dacapo, finishing with 12 time-faults. Her ride, who was sixth after dressage, is owned by Diana Chappell, Gillian Morris-Adams, Alison and Michael Smedley and Carolyn Taylor.

    “He wouldn’t be the fastest galloper but he doesn’t waste any time setting up, but if you’ve got a horse that gallops a bit quicker in between, the time is do-able,” said Laura. “He hasn’t ever done a hilly course before so I didn’t push him until I’d jumped the combination at fence 23 and 24ab. I think it’s gettable but you’ve got to jump all the fences – I don’t think you can take too many risks, because there’s no margin for error.”

    Laura had a dodgy moment at the second offset brush at fence 10, where she jumped the high bit of the brush shoulder.

    She explained: “He jumped into the water big and I didn’t get my reins – I was nowhere near the line I wanted to be on. Luckily he’s scopey, but honest as well. He had every reason to run out at the first part, and then even to consider jumping where he was aimed at… but he was awesome.”

    Laura said Dacapo tired around fence 21 in the arena because the course was so intense mentally, but he picked up again and “luckily, after the last combination [fence 23 and 24ab] you can nurse them home”.

    Helen Witchell and her own My Ernie have had the fastest round so far in this Chedington CCI4*-L, coming home with 6.8 time-faults. They were held around fence 11, the T on the Mound, because Logan Duffort and Voltage De La Nouee broke a frangible device in a fall at the corner at fence 12b, the Chedington Complex.

    “I actually turned my watch off after I was held and thought, ‘Let’s just enjoy it’ – my maths wasn’t going to work!” she said.

    “He was an absolute hero – he’d be very green at this level as it’s not even two years since his first event, but he’s older [12] and had done a bit of jumping. I had a scary moment coming out of the second water where we had a bit of a flyer and slither. But he was just magic and just locked on all the way. I was delighted with the way he came up the last hill considering he’s foreign bred.”

    Among other riders who have tackled the course so far, Ros Canter and Pencos Crown Jewel have the best finishing score after 7.6 time-faults to add to their 32.4 dressage. Nicola Wilson and Erano M finished clear with 15.6 time-faults and Sophie Jenman (Lordana VH Leysehof Z) also had no jumping penalties but 9.6 time-faults.

    Kirsty Chabert and Opposition Loire have 15 penalties for missing a flag in the combination at fence 24ab and Wizz Leyland had 40 jumping faults on Cruise The Town. Will Rawlin (The Partner) and Charlotte Rowe (HHS Leacourt Cavalier) both also finished with jumping faults.

    Eight combinations have failed to finish the course, including Emilie Chandler and Gortfadda Diamond, who had a good dressage score of 31.7 but retired after a couple of early jumping problems.

    Ashley Harrison received medical attention after a fall during her ride on Zebedee IX at the Bicton College Monkey Puzzle (fence 19), leading to a hold on course, but the commentators report she is conscious and talking to paramedics.

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