Irish Olympian Aoife Clark swept to victory on Sunday at the three-star Bramham International Horse Trials in England, climbing ten places from her opening dressage score.
Riding the Irish Sport Horse mare Fenya’s Elegance, Clark made up lost ground during Saturday’s CCI3* cross country phase after trailing British rider Izzy Taylor’s remarkable dressage score of 28.1, and was in second place before the final show jumping phase in Yorkshire, where she narrowly snatched victory with a zero score against Taylor and Orlando’s four faults.
World No. 1 William Fox-Pitt settled for third place with Freddie Mac .
Oxfordshire based Clark lay 11th after dressage with the PJ Hegarty owned and bred mare and finished just two seconds over the optimum time on Saturday’s cross country in testing conditions to climb to second. A clear round over Di Boddy’s coloured poles then put the pressure on overnight leaders Izzy Taylor and Orlando. They dropped a rail which dropped them to second and gave Aoife her second CCI3* with the horse having won at their local Blenheim last September. As well as the Sugden Perpetual Trophy, Aoife takes home an Equi-Trek Sonic horse box for a year.
“I’m over the moon! I was hoping she’d jump well as she finished full of running yesterday,” Clark said. “I knew Izzy (Taylor) and Orlando are good jumpers so the pressure was on. I’m so thrilled with her, she’s such a superstar. I’m shell-shocked; to win at Blenheim and now here is amazing.”
Horse Sport Ireland’s Eventing High Performance Manager Nick Turner said: “This was another sterling performance from Aoife. She was remarkably consistent through all three phases at Bramham, and this was a great result for her, especially after her victory at Blenheim last year. The owners are very important to us, and it was great to see Fenya’s Elegance’s owner PJ Hegarty here to see her win today. Irish riders all turned in very good performances at Bramham, and overall it was a great day for Irish sport.”
Third spot went to William Fox-Pitt with his exciting prospect, Freddie Mac, owned by Lady Best and Jane Keir. Freddie Mac climbed from 15th after dressage with a good cross-country and faultless show jumping. Local heroine Nicola Wilson also made a significant rise up the leaderboard as one of only two riders to finish on their dressage score with Mary and Barry Tweddle’s Annie Clover from 20th to fourth. A fence down for Jodie Amos dropped her from third to fifth with Wise Crack.
Ireland’s Mark Kyle with the Irish Sport Horse Coolio also turned in a clear jumping round at Bramham, lifting them from overnight 12th to a seventh-placed finish.
Despite having three fences down, Clark also claimed 12th place with Vaguely North.
Ben Hobday (Ramilo) and Angus Smales (It’s a Jackpot) will have each share the George Lane Fox Memorial prize as the riders who most improved on their dressage position. So the beautiful three-handled tankard will sit with them for six months each.
The Angela Cotton Memorial Trophy for the highest placed mare went to PJ Hegarty, whose Fenya’s Elegance is by Ricardo Z.
The Horse Health Pro-Am pairs competition was claimed by Izzy Taylor and Brazil’s new star Gabriel Cury.
Images below © Mike Bain