New Zealand rider Jonathan Paget has won the British Open Eventing Championship at Gatcombe Park, riding Clifton Lush to victory.
The 2013 Badminton winner added just four time faults to his dressage score of 37.3 to finish just ahead of Britain’s Oliver Townend and Andrew Nicholson’s former ride Armada.
Reigning champions Andrew Nicholson and Nereo, who were third after the showjumping, had an uncharacteristic stop at the water in the cross country so retired. But there was some consolation for the 2011 winner, when he finished sixth on Avebury after picking up 10.8 time faults on the cross country. Nicholson also withdrew Viscount George on the cross-country, while Paget did not start Clifton Promise. Mark Todd and Ravenstar finished 13th on 62, and Craig Nicolai and Just Ironic were 16th with 65.6.
Paget says the event was one of his season targets.
“Lush’s owners Lucy Allison and Frances Stead wanted to win here as well, so it’s great to come here and do it … and even more special on such a great little horse like Clifton Lush,” he said.
“He is a fantastic little horse and knows his job now. He was ready for this event and we were in the right place going into the cross country. I knew I had seven seconds to Andrew and about 15 to Ollie, and once Andrew had his unfortunate mishap I knew I could slow down a little, stop taking risks and cruise home.”
The cross country proved more than just a little challenging for most, with just four making it home clear and inside time – fellow Kiwi Craig Nicolai and Just Ironic one of those.
“That cross country was very fast. I was flying and felt on the verge of out of control!” Paget said. He said the testing track, coupled with the terrain and strategically place fences, made for a tough discipline.
“This is the one day event championship of Britain, so is very prestigious. People come here with their good horses and try and win it – you win this and you are champion for the year … so it is a nice feeling,” Paget said.
British Open Championship:
Jonathan Paget (NZL) Clifton Lush 41.3 1,
Oliver Townend (GBR) Armada 43.1 2,
Sam Griffiths (AUS) Happy Times 54.2 3,
Andrew Hoy (AUS) Cheeky Calimbo 54.2 4,
Wills Goodhew (GBR) Trefilan Quicksilver 54.4 5,
Andrew Nicholson (NZL) Avebury 54.8 6,
British Intermediate Championship: William Fox-Pitt (GBR) Fernhill Pimms 27.5 1, Oliver Townend (GBR) Cooley Master Class 29.7 2, Andrew Nicholson (NZL) Teseo 39.2 3.
Advanced Section A: William Fox-Pitt (GBR) Chilli Morning 32.8 1, Oliver Townend (GBR) ODT Ghareeb 34.3 2, Emily King (GBR) Brookleigh 37 3.