Kiwi eventer Andrew Nicholson has retained his four-star Barbury Horse Trials crown, winning at the weekend with Swallow Springs. It is the sixth time he has won there at the top level, earning him the title of the ‘King of Barbury’, and he added two other class wins to top off his winning weekend.
Nicholson, who lives just over the hill at Lockeridge, had nine rides as the weekend. “I love coming here. I like to support my local event and I’ve brought a lot of my nice novice horses this weekend.
“Swallow Springs has always been a very good horse, but he likes to look about – you can be coming to a difficult fence and his mind is on the bar or getting an ice-cream. Now, though, he’s very focused – he’s starting to feel like Avebury [four-time Barbury winner].”
Overnight leader Mollie Summerland, 21, was delighted to put the ghost of Bramham, when her saddle slipped, behind her. She finished second on Charly van ter Heiden, her 7.2 cross-country time penalties just pushing her below the speedy Nicholson, who is 36 years her senior.
“I really want to make eventing my career. The only thing holding me back is lack of horsepower, but I hope that perhaps someone might notice me now and send me a horse. You never know!”
Alex Bragg rode two horses into the top 10. He finished third on the mare Hester and seventh on King of the Mill.
He was full of praise for event director Alec Lochore’s track, which he has taken over from Capt Mark Phillips. “Alec built a super track. They were all decent courses, as they should be. If you’re trying to produce a horse for the top, you need these types of tracks to bring them on. The ground had super grass cover, too.”
Zara Tindall rose more than 30 places with the fastest time of the day, just five seconds over the optimum time of 6 minutes 33 seconds, to fourth on Watkins. She finished on the same score as Pippa Funnell riding MGH Grafton Street, but Tindall’s cross-country speed gave her the advantage.
Second after the dressage phase, Andrew Nicholson and the Spanish bred As Is claimed section B of the CCI3*-S, having showjumped clear and come home three seconds over the cross-country optimum time. As Is recently finished seventh in the CCI4*-L at Bramham so this was a relatively easy spin for the horse.
Dressage leaders Hannah Bate and Fanta Boy dropped well down the order with penalties in both jumping phases.
Piggy French was back in the money, this time riding Brookfield Innocent into second place. Disappointingly, French’s Calling Card dropped from third to fourth after picking up 3.2 cross-country time penalties when having to circle between fences in the second half of the course.
Completing the top three were Laura Collett and Sir Papillon who were faultless in both the jumping phases.
Piggy French rode Brookfield Quality to win the 3* section A, the partnership’s fourth win of the season. Dressage leaders Marcelo Tosi (BRA) and Starbucks had a hugely expensive showjumping round after which they jumped a steady cross country clear to plummet down to 58th place.
A single showjump rail down prevented Adam Harvey (GBR) and Picasso V from successfully defending the class they won last year, opening the door for French.
Sir Mark Todd completed the top three, finishing 0.2 of a penalty behind Adam riding Leonidas II, a five-star horse who is back competing after time off.
Andrew Nicholson also claimed a novice section on a full brother to As Is, Damaso, with their leading dressage score of 21.5 a big enough margin to have a rail down and still win – just. He finished on the same score as Vittoria Pannizzon (ITA) and Caraghs Royal Quality but with just 0.8 of a cross-country time penalty against Pannizzon’s 2.8 Nicholson had the advantage.
Libby Seed (GBR) was a comfortable winner of novice section G, enjoying an almost three point difference on Billy Alberto over Michael Jackson (GBR) riding PSH Lets Tango. Austin O’Connor was back in the ribbons, third on Silver Don.
Australian Bill Levett won section H with Dignified Hero, a horse belonging to one of his pupils, Moroccan rider Noor Slaoui, and he was delighted with the seven-year-old gelding’s dressage score completion. Michael Jackson was second with PSH Love Affair.
Austin O’Connor (IRL) won the Open Novice section with Calvin II, narrowly pipping eventing World No.1 ranked rider Tim Price (NZL) to the post. Price settled for second place on Happy Boy, who was having a non-pressured run after moving up to intermediate level earlier in the season.
Price was victorious in novice section E, winning on Emotion II‘s dressage score of 26 penalties and moving above Chris Burton (AUS) after Kiltown Sherlock had a showjump pole down. This was the mare’s second win on the trot.
Sue Benson’s Falco IV also gave Price another win, this time in an intermediate novice section. The 10-year-old had already won 108 British Eventing points, and was another horse stepping down a level for a consolidation run at Barbury. Gubby Leech (GBR) came closest to catching Price, finishing second – and well ahead of the rest of the field – on Timolin.
Whilst Timolin had to settle for second place, Leech was the clear winner in the remaining intermediate novice. Royal Harvest posted a 4.5 penalty advantage over Charlotte Rowe on Redbarn Lux Ury Biscuit.
The eventing classes for 2019 concluded on the final day with two novice sections, section K won by Matthew Glentworth (GBR) riding Forthright and Jesse Campbell (NZL) and Sportsfield Global Warrior took out section L. Campbell also finished second in section K with Global Candy Boy.
Shetland Grand National
Each year the Shetland Grand National raises money for charity, with this year’s beneficiary being the Bob Champion Cancer Trust. Fiercely competitive jockeys aged between eight and 14 years old, and a maximum five feet tall, contested a series of heats at impressive speeds, all hoping to impress the selectors who later in the year will select the lucky jockeys who will race at Olympia in December.
The first set of races provided a finals win for Sophie Newman-Moore who finished ahead of Alfie Daper and Lucy Aspall, while the finals winner of the second set of races was Lucas Murphy, son of the 2008 Grand National winner Timmy, with Alfie Daper in second and Lucy Aspall, daughter of back-to-back Grand National winner Leighton, third.