Mark Kyle and Drunken Disorderly retained their British Open indoor cross country title, thrilling the crowd with a beautifully executed and exceptionally fast round.
As favourites for the class, their draw as last to tackle the cross-country and showjumping hybrid kept the crowds’ enthusiasm and cheering ever increasing throughout the competition.
“The rounds just kept getting quicker and quicker, and ‘Carl’ revels in the atmosphere,” said Mark, a previous winner in 2009 and 2006. “He thinks that the crowd are there just for him.”
The competition’s course consisted of six show jumps, with penalties added for knockdowns, followed by 14 cross-country fences, with time lost for refusals or run outs.
None of the first 16 of 23 starters was able to complete in less than 60sec, then Lauren Shannon, whose horses are based with Mark and his wife Tania, smashed the minute barrier by 5sec with her 15-year-old mare Quixotic.
“I’d come a different way to Mark and Tania to get to the show and I ended up arriving late. I wasn’t able to walk the course,” said Lauren, competing here after winning a wildcard at Addington Manor EC. “But it meant I didn’t have to think about it.”
Mark joked: “I thought, typical, she gets here late, doesn’t walk and is going to end up winning the class, she was so fast. I really didn’t think she could be beaten.”
However, the 20-year-old Drunken Disorderly, who competed at the Athens Olympics and is a winner of Hickstead’s eventers’ grand prix, still had a lot more to give.
After following Lauren’s tightly angled turn to a wishing well, easily curving over corners and galloping over the final two brush fences, Mark and the grey gelding snatched 1sec back to take the class.
“He only does three classes a year, this, Hickstead and a warm up at Addington at the wildcard show,” said Mark. “He’s ridden by working pupils at home, and teaches them a lot, but when I get on him he wakes up because he knows he’s going somewhere. He’s more switched on than me about that!”
Drunken Disorderly, who was bought by Tania 16 years ago, will again contest the Hickstead event this summer.
“These classes are excellent for older horses,” said Mark. “It means they don’t have to be left in a field and forgotten about. And Carl’s become a bit of a specialist now.”
Don’t miss H&H’s full report on all the action from the British Open Show Jumping Championships, on sale Thursday 15 April