Eventing highlights: A one-eyed mare claims open intermediate glory and more *H&H Plus*

  • Sweden’s Therese Viklund steers her one-eyed mare to open intermediate glory as sporting action resumes after a four-month hiatus

    Barbury, Wilts

    From a starting line-up packed with household names, rising Swedish star Therese Viklund scored her first win on British soil with her jumping machine Viscera, who lost an eye two years ago after suffering from uveitis.

    Therese, 33, who is based with Swedish head coach Fred Bergendorff, admitted the open intermediate win surprised her. “It has been a frustrating year and to be honest I didn’t imagine we’d be back eventing at all, but I couldn’t have asked for a better restart,” she said. “There have been positives to come out of the situation – lockdown gave me the chance to work hard on my showjumping with Fred and it has really paid off.”

    Losing an eye has not, according to her jockey, disrupted Viscera’s progress. “She’s amazing – she never felt any different,” said Therese. “It probably helps that she thinks she owns the world. She’s small and feisty, and a brilliant partner.”

    Barbury put on sections from BE100 to intermediate, giving even more amateur riders than usual the chance to compete at Wiltshire’s flagship event.

    Holly Simms and Kalypso Du Buisson Z (Clipper) took BE100open honours on a score of 19.8. Holly, a convert to eventing from working hunters, only switched disciplines part-way through last season. “I felt it was time for a new challenge,” said the 17-year-old, who was a regular at Horse of the Year Show and the Royal International.

    Eight-year-old Clipper began his career with Tim and Jonelle Price, and was latterly with Izzy Taylor.

    “He’s the most easy-going horse who loves his job,” said Holly. “He was as happy to be back in the start box as I was.”

    The Musketeer team, led by organiser Alec Lochore, were applauded for their efforts to deliver a competition that adhered to all the coronavirus restrictions yet provided riders with a dose of “back to normality”. Beautiful, inviting cross-country courses coupled with glorious sunshine added to the feel-good factor that a return to eventing heralded.

    Tom McEwen, who topped the intermediate with Coilbri De Riverland, said: “It felt a bit odd to have no spectators or tradestands, but there were advantages [of the restrictions] – there was more space in the showjumping warm-up and having two collecting rings worked really well.”

    Ellie Fredericks and Britannias Mail (Marley) demonstrated how well they have gelled, winning on their debut together at Barbury. The pair headed an open novice section on a score of 25.5.

    The 12-year-old stallion is an embryo transfer son of Headley Britannia, who won the CIC3* (now CCI4*-S) here in 2008 – the year Marley was born – with Ellie’s mother, Lucinda. “Originally Mum had wanted to event him, but she broke her knee badly three years ago and so he had been with a couple of different riders before I took him on over the winter,” explained Ellie. “He’s a brilliant schoolmaster at this level and he was very pleased to be out again. My arms were killing me by halfway around the cross-country!”

    Aske, North Yorks 

    Wills Oakden and his team of Cooley horses burst out of the starting blocks at Aske with open intermediate (OI) and intermediate victories, plus two second places. His wins came aboard two full brothers, both owned by Ella MacGregor.

    The appropriately named AKD Cooley Lockdown topped OI section J. “I didn’t so much as have to squeeze him across country,” said Wills, who has been competing the son of Balou Du Rouet for three seasons.

    “All my horses had three weeks of downtime at the beginning of lockdown and then I spent a lot of time really focusing on the basics and it’s paid off.”

    AKD Lockdown’s full brother, Macgregors Cooley, also out of the Irish Sport Horse mare AKD Possession, romped home in the intermediate ahead of his stablemate, Hilton Cooley. “He’s not very experienced, so to come out and run like that after a three-month break is pretty good going,” said Wills, who rounded off the weekend with a second place in OI section I on Oughterard Cooley.

    Ireland’s Susie Berry was on blistering form at the North Yorkshire fixture, notching up three wins, a third and a seventh from six rides.

    She headed one of two open intermediate sections on Helen Caton’s 11-year-old Ringwood LB, with whom she finished 13th at Blenheim last year.

    “It was a relief to have him out again as it’s been hard work keeping him motivated at home,” admitted Susie. “I probably only schooled him in the arena once a month. The rest of the time he spent out hacking and in the fields.”

    After spending more than five years with Piggy March (née French), Susie flew the Badminton winner’s nest and set up on her own in January.

    “It’s great as Piggy’s still only 15 minutes down the road, and the silver lining of lockdown was more time to settle into the swing of things and get to know some of the new horses that had joined my team,” said the 24-year-old, who also piloted two exciting seven-year-olds to wins – Trevor Dickens’ mare, Carolines Air KM, headed the open novice, and Kilcandra Capitol, owned by Truckeast Ltd, completed Susie’s hat trick in a novice section.

    Tweseldown (3), Hants

    Tweseldown BE80(T) winners Katie Timberlake and Cousin Jack IV used their time in lockdown to improve their dressage scores.

    The pair have been competing in E-Riders online dressage competitions, where you can ride eventing tests and have them marked. “I’ve been doing BE90, BE100 and novice tests in my 20x40m arena at home. It’s been brilliant to have something to focus on and has kept me motivated while there’s been nowhere to go,” said Katie, who took over the ride on Cousin Jack IV, who belongs to her sister Eleanor, around five years ago.

    “Eleanor enjoys flatwork but not the jumping so much, and when my own horse, Mostyn II, picked up an injury over the winter, she let me carry on competing him this season,” said Katie, whose first-phase score of 28 was second best of the section.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 23 July 2020