Osberton at Thoresby eventing report: ‘Sensitive’ Hartacker beats big field *H&H plus*

  • Izzy Taylor’s promising ride sets the record straight, as the jumping phases prove influential across all classes at “Thoresberton”, writes Sue Polley

    Osberton at Thoresby and Young Horse Championships, Notts, 7–11 October

    Izzy Taylor and Hartacker protected their dressage score of 25.7 to win the 113-strong CCI3*-L at the penultimate British international of the season.

    Camilla Behrens’ eight-year-old Hartacker, still only in his second year of eventing, has been knocking on the door in all his runs this season, so the Italian-bred son of Spartacus and Izzy were always going to be a force to be reckoned here.

    A copybook performance across country saw the pair hold the advantage going into the showjumping, albeit with less than a fence between them and the chasing pack of the next 13.

    In winning, Hartacker set the record straight after he was denied victory in the young horse class at Burnham Market by a run-out cross-country, having led the first two phases.

    “He’s very sensitive and very much needs a security blanket around him, but he has a beautiful brain and wants to do everything right which is what makes him so lovely to work with,” said Izzy. “He’s so much stronger than he was 12 months ago and he finished well here in tough conditions, so I’m delighted.”

    Piggy French piloted last year’s Osberton seven-year-old winner, Sportsfield Top Notch, into second place in his first CCI3*-L. The pair also kept a clean sheet and completed on their dressage score of 26.6. By Harlequin Du Carel, the Michael Hanrahan-bred gelding looked to have grown in confidence since last year’s win.

    “He’s one of my favourite horses,” confessed Piggy. “He’s a lovely character and has got the limbs, scope and heart to be a five-star horse. He can have a pole here and there as he can still be quite suspicious of what he sees as scary-looking showjumps so I was delighted to go clear here.”

    Third went to 2018 national pony champion Oliver Jackson and Viktor Krum on 28.5. They were slightly off the pace after dressage on 28.5 but, with no added penalties, the pair crept up the leaderboard at their first CCI3*-L.

    The cross-country phase in this section got off to an eventful start with three out of the first four combinations incurring glance-offs at fence 10b, the middle corner element of the Investec Cubes. This three-part combination comprised a large white box to the corner, followed to another white box, all on a curving, slightly downhill line.

    It proved to be the most influential complex on the track, with a total of 20 horses picking up jumping penalties. A further dozen blotted their copybooks at each of the pair of offset brushes at fences 13 and 14 and the arrowhead coming out of the water at fence 23.

    Harry Meade had a fall at fence three with Merrywell Tradition and was dragged when his foot got caught in the stirrup, suffering repeated kicks to the head. He suffered lacerations and significant bruising to his shoulders, neck and face, as well as a suspected fracture to his jaw and a broken right arm, which was operated on on Monday.

    Debut success

    This was Thoresby Park’s inaugural British Eventing (BE) event. Its usual slot in the BE calendar will be the Spring Carnival, organiser Bede Events’ replacement for Belton Park, but the landowners kindly stepped in to host the classes scheduled to take place at Osberton as a “one-off” for 2020 after the latter closed its gates as a result of Covid-19.

    “I was in two minds about running here this autumn,” confessed organiser and cross-country course-designer Stuart Buntine. “I didn’t want to damage the ground ahead of next year’s spring event, but the estate talked me into it and I’m glad they did.”

    Indeed, the stunning venue received positive feedback from riders, as did Bede Events team’s heroic efforts to manage the ground in the two jumping phases following approximately 40mm of rain over the week leading up to the event. This included ongoing ground maintenance, shortening both the cross-country courses for the young horse classes and removing and relocating some portable fences on the CCI3*-L and CCI2*-L tracks when patches of ground became untenable.

    “The loop didn’t feel natural”

    The biggest talking point on the CCI2*-L cross-country track was the nine combinations who were eliminated for an error of course after missing out the 360-degree loop required to jump fences 11 and 12 after negotiating the Investec Cubes.

    Instead they headed straight to the pair of influential brushes at 13ab which, in turn, also caught out several combinations who failed to get their line right to the b element.

    “Turning left and almost circling inside yourself to jump 11 and 12, rather than heading straight on after jumping the Cubes didn’t feel like the natural thing to do,” commented Jamie-Lee Day, who came agonising close to winning the section but for rolling the final showjumping pole, which ultimately dropped her and Hanleem Didjeridoo down from first after cross-country to eventual third.

    “When you’re in the zone and have just jumped a difficult combination and know you have another to come, you focus on what’s ahead of you and maybe that’s why so many riders forgot to complete the second loop.”

    Fence 23, a skinny arrowhead coming out of the water, also proved to be the undoing of 15 combinations who suffered frustrating glance-offs when in sight of the finish.

    Sian Davies-Cooke and the Dutch-bred Van Gogh son Intentie W ultimately won the section, posting a clear showjumping round as many of those above them faulted. The pair completed on 27.8, a hair’s breadth ahead of a delighted Serena Kullich and Cognac Des Iris on 28.1.

    “I had a fair bit of luck in there,” admitted Sian after her showjumping round, “but I’m so pleased. My trainer Tuffy Tilley told me I had to win and it’s the perfect birthday present for his co-owner Jane Davies.”

    Serena Kullich, 20, and her French-bred eight-year-old Cognac Des Iris also rose several places up the leaderboard as a result of their clear round. She now plans to target young riders and a CCI3*-L next season.

    First-phase leaders Emily King and Imposant had an unfortunate fall on the flat after fence 19 on Saturday’s cross-country.

    “Cheeky teenager” shows promise

    William Fox-Pitt and Under Oath headed the dressage leaderboard in the British Eventing seven-year-old championship, which was run as a CCI3*-S, but five rolled showjumping poles dropped them out of contention and opened the door for Tom Jackson and the German-bred HH Moonwalk to take the win.

    The pair added just 0.4 of a time-fault in the showjumping and two across the country to complete on 28.4.

    “He’s a bit of cheeky teenager but he’s very consistent as he tries really hard,” admitted Tom. “He covers the ground well so I’m hoping he’s one for the future.”

    Owned by May-Britt Wedd and JC and Lexi Hambro, “Olaf” has Holsteiner papers and is by Invento.

    Surrey-based French rider Gaspard Maksud, moved up the ranks to second with Zaragoza II. The pair posted one of only seven fault-free showjumping rounds in the section and also added nothing across country to complete on their dressage score of 29.3. The seven-year-old mare was home-bred by owner Jane Young and her partner Martin Thurlow, by Cevin Z out of Jane’s mare Saracens Pride.

    “Zaragoza’s a good jumper,” said Gaspard. “She’s good at shortening herself and is easy to turn so I can keep riding her to her fences, but she’s very hot so keeping her calm before the dressage is our biggest challenge.”

    Piggy March and I Diablo Joe finished third on 30.9.

    The British Eventing six-year-old championship at CCI2*-S was also won by Piggy and long-term owner Susie Wood’s Cooley Goodwood. The pair led from pillar to post, adding nothing to a smart dressage score of 24.6.

    “He’s another one who makes my life easy,” confessed Piggy. “He’s a simple character, a nice mover and easy to work with, so fingers crossed for the future.”

    Both Cooley Goodwood and Catherine Witt and Hayden Hankey’s runner-up, Heads Up, are by OBOS Quality 004. Heads Up completed on his dressage score of 27.1.

    Another Cooley horse, this time one with German Holsteiner showjumping bloodlines via sire Clarion and damsire Calato Z, Cooley As Ice, took the final podium place on 31.3 under Bubby Upton.

    Story behind the name

    Geoffrey Burton unashamedly admits his KWPN gelding I Diablo Joe, third in the seven-year-old championship, is “the nicest, kindest, most loving animal and my best friend. I originally bred him for me to ride at unaffiliated events but Ginny and Will Turnbull, who broke him in, basically told me he was too good for that!”

    He also explained the story behind Joe’s name: “I’d always wanted a horse called Diablo, which means devil in Spanish. However, this was around the time War Horse was out and my niece and nephew wanted to name him after Joey, so that’s where the Joe part comes from. Finally, the year I registered him all KWPN horses’ names had to start with ‘I’, so he became I Diablo Joe.”

    Ref Horse & Hound; 15 October 2020

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