Sam Griffiths wins Gatcombe Express Eventing

August 9, 2011

Australian rider Sam Griffiths jumped his way to victory in a spectacular final qualifier for the Express Eventing Series 2011 at Gatcombe at the weekend.

Sam Griffiths and Real Dancer. © Al Crook
Griffiths takes home £3000 in prize money after his Express Eventing debut at Gatcombe's Festival of British Eventing, as well as qualifying for the Express Eventing Final at the Horse of the Year Show at Birmingham's LG Arena on October 4. Joining him after winning a qualifying place in the final is Sienna Myson-Davies as the highest placed Young Rider. Oliver Townend came a close second to Griffiths with just 0.8 penalty points separating the two. Townend had an incredibly busy weekend at The Festival of British Eventing running nine horses in total and Griffiths ran three.

Griffiths rode a breathtaking freestyle dressage to music test on Saturday evening which left the huge crowd of spectators stunned. Artistic Judge, Amanda Birch of Amanda Birch Dressage Writing said: "Spectators here have truly witnessed something very special."

He led from the outset and was closely followed by Olympian Alex Hua Tian on Grafenstolz until the showjumping phase. Griffiths produced the lowest dressage score of the entire Express Eventing Series 2011 qualifiers, being awarded a 7.9. He then jumped clear in his Cross Country phase, and led into the final show jumping phase. The show jumping proved tricky for some with only two clear rounds, and Griffiths had two poles down, meaning that he had to jump and clear the eraser fence (which is optional but if cleared knocks 4 points of the total score) which he did with ease, clinching the top spot.

"I have loved every minute of this competition. It's been very exciting and winning has topped it off," Griffiths said.

"I think it's a great concept and one that really suited my horse, it has been my first time competing today and I wish I'd done the others [previous 3 qualifiers]"

As Myson-Davies was the highest placed Young Rider, she earns a place in the Express Eventing Final.

From four qualifiers, there are eight qualified riders: Matthew Wright, Fiona Hobby, Harry Meade, Sam Griffiths, Paul Sims, William Murray, Alex Hua Tian and Sienna Myson-Davies. All will ride at the Express Eventing Final at Horse of the Year Show. These riders will be joined by eight runners up, who are yet to be announced.

"We are really pleased with how the competition ran today. We have had an incredibly strong field of competitors here at the Festival of British Eventing and all have enjoyed the event," said Express Eventing Equestrian Director Stephen Renouard. "It was a very exciting and nail-biting finish for the 2011 Express Eventing Series and well received by the audience here at the Festival."