Some fiercely competitive and thrilling sport was guaranteed at the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, Gloucestershire, with top riders such as Christopher Burton, Tom McEwen and Francis Whittington defending their titles against the cream of competitors based in this country, as well as fantastic grassroots competitions.
The event certainly didn’t disappoint, here’s some of the highlights:
On day one leading British rider Tom McEwen made a dream start with his title defence of the Smith & Williamson British Intermediate Championship. He took an early lead in the dressage phase with the excellent score of 27.2 on Barbara Cooper’s Dreamaway ll and won the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse five-year-old qualifier on Mr and Mrs Fred Barker’s MHS Pop Star, described by judge Annabel Scrimgeour as “a big mover with a lovely loose, athletic movement.”
Francis Whittington gave Sarah Arrowsmith’s Brother Bertie a bold ride to defend his Dodson & Horrell British Novice title. The pair were fifth after the dressage and showjumping phases and produced one of only two rounds inside the optimum time.
A new record was set with both the British Intermediate and Novice Champions retaining their titles.
Tom McEwen was masterful when leading from flagfall on Barbara Cooper’s elegant grey Dreamaway ll to score a second successive victory in the Smith & Williamson British Intermediate Championship and Francis Whittington produced an accomplished performance on Sarah Arrowsmith’s Brother Bertie to defend his Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship title.
In The Pony Club showjumping, sponsored by Nags Essentials, Teme Valley and Clifton-on-Teme finished on the same score triggering a jump off, which could hardly have been closer as both teams finished with 12 faults, but it was the Teme Valley team that gave a fantastic performance to take the win.
Tom McEwen scored a back-to-back win in the Smith & Williamson British Intermediate Championship. Tom and Barbara Cooper’s elegant grey Dreamaway ll, an eight-year-old by Verdi, led the dressage and were never headed, putting up the third fastest cross-country time of 8.4 penalties.
“He’s a beautiful horse,” said Tom of the eight year old by Verdi. “I didn’t push him on the cross country too much as this is a big step up for him, but he is very balanced and can change his stride quite quickly.”
There was a particularly appropriate winner of the RoR/NTF Retrained Racehorse Event Championship when Tina Cook, who has converted numerous racehorses into eventers in her long and distinguished career, triumphed on David Cricket, having led from the start.
“He loves his new life,” said Tina. “I think the fact that he hasn’t run very much on the racecourse has meant he is much more straightforward. His only weakness is learning the correct showjumping technique, but that is only to be expected. I’m thrilled with him.”
Saskia Davies was bubbling over with excitement at her victory on her 14 year old gelding Singing Usk in the TopSpec Challenge for the Corinthian Cup, the hugely popular competition for amateur riders introduced by Captain Mark Phillips two years ago.
Saskia, 24, from Tibberton, Gloucestershire, works part-time in events management.
“I was pushing for the time and my horse just flew,” she said. “This means so much. It’s very special being here at The Festival, to gallop along the same track as the four-star horses. This competition really gives us amateurs something to aim for and look forward to.”
The Dodson & Horrell Arena Eventing at the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing gives amateur riders the chance to compete at the same prestigious event as their idols.
There were 47 competitors in the 90cm class with Anna Wiles riding Ryan winning ahead of Anna Dunford and My Spirit. Third place was Lily Clarke aboard Camills Muriel.
28 competitors took part in the 100cm class for the Dodson & Horrell Arena Eventing. The winner was Emma Horton-Smith riding All About Albert, second place went to Anita Brackstone aboard Ballylusk Star Rebel and third position was taken by Alice Sandiford riding Sandstone Scalpings.
Jonelle Price and Trisha Rickards’ brilliant mare Classic Moet powered to the top of the leaderboard in the Magic Millions British Open Championship CCI4*-S with a typically fast and fluent cross country performance that elevated them from seventh place after the dressage and showjumping phases to the top spot on the podium and a £10,000 first prize.
“I was kicking myself about having a rail down in the show jumping and I wanted to have a cut,” explained Jonelle. “I knew that fast riders like Oliver, Burto and Tim were coming next, so I had to crack on. Classic Moet feels better than ever – this has been the perfect preparation for Burghley.”
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