Eventing highlights: Rushbrooke’s Always on time *H&H Plus*

  • An opinionated home-bred mare wins on only her second novice outing

    Frickley Park (1), South Yorks

    James Rushbrooke and Carol Smart’s Always On My Mind (Allie) were one of only two combinations in novice section M to finish on their dressage score. Their speedy trip across country bagged them a win at only their second attempt at the level.

    “Last year at Skipton we only made it as far as the third fence,” explained James of their novice debut. “She’s the sort of mare that if she gets out of bed on the right side then she’s lovely, but catch her getting out on the wrong side and you don’t want to be going near her.”

    The eight-year-old daughter of Mill Law, who was bred by her owner, Carol Smart, is one of seven eventers and three hunters stabled at 23-year-old James’ North Yorkshire base.

    During lockdown, the former Andrew Nicholson protégé, who has also recently taken on mastership of the Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hunt, turned his hand to some DIY, transforming one of his fields into an extensive cross-country schooling area.

    “Dad and I hired a digger, shifted some earth around and created a bank and some ditches,” said James. “Having the schooling facilities at home meant that I could carry on training and giving the horses the variety they needed to keep them happy and learning.”

    The project undoubtedly benefited his winning Frickley ride, who spent a lot of time honing her skills over natural fences.

    “She really started to enjoy her jumping, and her energies are now going in the right direction,” said her owner.

    In another novice section, Alanis Milner-Moore notched up a first win with her eight-year-old mare, Miss Maybell. The pair added 0.4 of a time-penalty to their dressage score of 32.8.

    “I was glued to the live-scoring all the way home and sure that I had come second behind Oliver Townend,” explained Alanis. “Later that evening when I was in the shower, my mum came running up the stairs shouting that the scores had been adjusted and that I’d won!”

    Alanis, 17, has spent the last few months working hard on Miss Maybell’s flatwork. “She’s 17hh and hard to manoeuvre around a small arena, but my trainer, Mel Chapman, has helped me improve her balance and it’s paying off,” she said.

    Frickley’s parkland setting provided the perfect backdrop for three full days of safe, socially distanced competition. Organiser Vanessa Fleming said: “A lot of the changes we had to implement actually streamlined certain elements of the competition and made the days run more smoothly.”

    “It has taken me long enough!” exclaimed Sarah Kranz, who recorded her first win aboard her long-term partner, Pictus Durian (Jack), in a BE90 at Frickley Park (1).

    Sarah, who is a director of the equestrian retailer Chelford Farm Supplies, bought the 18-year-old gelding as a two-year-old from Pictus Stud in Cheshire.

    “I evented him until about 2009, when work got in the way, I got married and then had a baby,” she explained. “I wasn’t sure I’d compete again and Jack had gone to a local rider to have some fun, but in 2013 I very slowly eased myself back into it.”

    The pair posted a personal best dressage of 21.8 and added four penalties in each of the jumping phases – one pole down in the showjumping and four time-penalties across country.

    The National Saddle Centre Offchurch Bury, Warks

    Optician Kirstie Wright steered her home-bred seven-year-old Mill House Kann Eye (Jack) to a first-ever win, in a BE100.

    Jack (by Kannan) is one of several offspring out of Kirstie’s mare Wimbleball Allegra, who sadly died giving birth to her last foal, who is now three. Jack’s half-sister, Mill House Prima Donna, was also competing at Offchurch, but rolled a couple of showjumps.

    “Jack is the most chilled-out horse you could ever have, but he’s taken a long time to grow into himself,” said Kirstie. “Everyone tells me that Kannans don’t mature until they’re eight, so I’m hoping he’ll carry on going from strength to strength now.”

    Kirstie juggles riding with working full-time for her family’s optician business. “At the start of lockdown everyone except my dad and I were furloughed, so I’ve been on call 24/7 for emergencies,” she said. “Even between phases at events I have to be near my phone.”

    Katie Strelczuk swapped hooves for wheels during lockdown, and credits cycling “up to 280 miles at a time” for improving her strength and fitness. “I had a knee operation at the end of last year, which meant I couldn’t carry on running to keep fit, so I bought a bike,” she explained. “I cycled every day during lockdown and really enjoyed it.”

    Katie fits in riding her Offchurch Bury BE100 winner, Aprils Royale Ruby, around working for a renewable energy company.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 6 August 2020