Fabulous Flora flies to Bramham win

Wiltshire rider Flora Harris made it a day of start to finish maiden victories when she won the Equi-Trek CCI3* with Bayano.   The nine year old gelding, owned by Caroline Harris and Rebecca Salt, finished on his dressage score of 36.8 under Flora’s expert guidance.

FLORA HARRIS riding BAYANO winner of the CCI***
FLORA HARRIS riding BAYANO winner of the CCI***

William Fox-Pitt, who had been on Flora’s tail in pursuit of a record eighth win, sadly fell foul of Di Boddy’s technical show jumping course to finish in fifth with Fernhill Pimms. Kitty King took full advantage with a clear with Mr and Mrs Frank Inns’ Persimmon to put the pressure on Flora who could afford a single fence down but nothing else for victory. It was clear all the way and Flora’s first ever three day event victory.

Day one dressage leaders France’s Gwendolen Fer and Romantic Love, pulled themselves up the leaderboard with an all-important clear to secure a place on the podium. Fourth went to Sarah Ennis for Ireland with Horseware Stellor Rebound who put in a gutsy performance to rise from 15th after dressage to eighth after a faultless cross country and a clear show jumping round promoted them a further four places.

“It’s just amazing to reach this first milestone in my career!” beamed Flora. “We’re a young partnership; he’s just nine so you never know quite what to expect. We had a blip last week at Tattersalls (three day event in Ireland) as he was quite ‘cheeky’ so we re-routed her and formulated a new plan to manage him differently here and it’s all paid off. I’m so lucky to have such an amazing team to help me. All this is quite overwhelming really!”

Flora travelled to five countries before she settled on buying the Dutch-bred horse which had been show jumping with an amateur as a five year old.  “He’s gone from BE90 to winning a CCI3* in three seasons so I couldn’t be more proud; I just love him!” exclaimed Flora.

The £5,750 first prize will help but Flora was most excited about taking ownership of an Equi-Trek Sonic horse box for the year, saying; “It’ll be so handy!  I’ve just got a new lorry which I struggle getting in and out of the yard for the little trips so it’s perfect! What an amazing prize – thanks Equi-Trek!”

So another Bramham chapter is written; it’s been a great year with three amazing eventing spectacles plus great action from the other rings.  We hope to see you in 2016 – date for your diary 9 – 12 June.

For full results – click here

Rider interviews – click here

Woodhead wows for first win

Yorkshire born and bred Holly Woodhead made it a second win for a ‘native’ at this year’s Equi-Trek Bramham Horse Trials when she won the Bishop Burton u25 CCI3* title.  Riding DHI Lupison, the Wiltshire-based rider lead from start to finish; adding nothing to a spectacular dressage score of 33.0, a winning margin of over 11 penalties.

HOLLY WOODHEAD riding DHI LUPISON winners of the CCI*** Under 25
HOLLY WOODHEAD riding DHI LUPISON winners of the CCI*** Under 25

The win is Holly’s first ever three day victory and Bramham is now confirmed as her favourite venue which will always hold a special place in her heart having been a visitor since the age of nine.  Victory is also poignant as the horse was owned by her grandfather who sadly passed away last week.

A stunning performance in the dressage set her up well but the rider has a strong grounding in the discipline having represented Britain at the Pony European Championships in pure Dressage.  A faultless cross country round yesterday extended her advantage.

When nearest rival Dani Evans riding Smart Time lowered a pole, Holly was given the luxury of a two fence cushion; “I cantered in and just knew I wanted to jump clear,” Holly said.  And that’s indeed what she did.  DHI Lupison showed no signs of the rigors of yesterday and jumped an immaculate round, giving every fence plenty of room.  As the young rider cantered to the finish, the crowd erupted to signal the victory.  Dani also secured third place with her 2013 runner-up, Raphael II.  Millie Dumas and Artistiek pulled up to fourth spot went to Emily King and Brookleigh.

A surprised Holly said; “Yesterday I admitted that I’d never felt so nervous but today I was surprisingly calmer today.  I was really please with him; he jumped exceptionally and felt like he wasn’t going to touch a thing.  He tried his hardest and now we have our first three day win; I still can’t quite believe it and I think it will take a long while to sink in.  It’s my grandad’s funeral on Monday and I can go there with a smile on my face. He was certainly looking down on me today.”

Dani was proud of her two rides having had a tough start to the season when her yard was essentially locked down due to an outbreak of the highly contagious equine virus Strangles and the 23 year old thought her season was at an end before it had even begun.  Even when she was cleared, she found herself struggling for form at the big occasions so to have two horses in the top three shows her resilience.

Dani commented; “Both the horses have been ‘on it’ all week which makes my job easier and I couldn’t be happier with them. I walked the (show jumping) course and it was big, square and technical…which didn’t suit me!  But they both jumped really well; I’m cross with the two time penalties on Raphael and the fence down on Smart Time was totally my fault.  If it was going to be anyone to beat me, I couldn’t be happier that it was Holly!”

Both riders were quick to thank the help provided by the World Class programme and in particular Yogi Breisner, Gill Watson and Peter Murphy.  Plus of course their ‘amazing families and support crews’.

Holly has her sights on a place in the British team for this year’s Young Rider European Championships in Poland while Dani is hopeful of securing one of the 12 spots on offer for the Senior squad at the European Championships at Blair Castle in September.

Full results – click here

Rider interviews – click here

After the longest wait…

The day may have started grey and rainy but it quickly blew off to the North Sea to leave a perfect setting for three sections of world class action at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials.

The British Equestrian Trade Association CIC3*got us underway this morning with their show jumping phase.  Overnight leader Pippa Funnell held her advantage with Carol Toliver and her own Billy the Biz but that was no surprise as the Cevin  Z sired grey was bred to show jump.  Her two closest rivals, Nicola Wilson (Annie Clover) and Caroline Powell (Onwards and Upwards) also were faultess in the Equi-Trek arena over Di Boddy’s up-to-height course.

It was down to Ian Stark’s cross country test to determine the final result.  First of the leaders to go was local superstar Nicola with the mare owned by her parents, Mary and Barry Tweddle and as she’s had the mare since a four year old, she’s very much part of the Tweddle-Wilson family.  The duo are quite the partnership now and they made light of Ian’s course having four star and championship experience to finish clear inside the time and throw the gauntlet down.  Caroline Powell was next on course with Cameron Crawford’s Onwards and Upwards who again used his experience and that of his rider to fly round faultlessly to maintain their position.   So it was down to Pippa and the relatively inexperienced grey Billy the Biz.   Pippa had already declared that she would ride him to how he felt and although full of assurance and going well for the Rolex Grand Slam rider, Pippa never pushed him out of a comfortable rhythm for four costly time penalties but a very happy, confidence giving round.  So it was enough to drop Pippa out of the lead to second and hand the first prize and £2000 to Nicola.  It was certainly a popular win for the home crowd!  “I wanted to be the most popular woman in Yorkshire, so I thought I’d let Nicola win!” jibed Pippa.

“To win here at Bramham is really a dream come true,” beamed Nicola.  “It’s something I’ve struggled to do but it’s nice to finally do it for us all!  It’s been a fantastic week and to have both these horses finish on their dressage scores is really special.  I have a lovely string of horses and the future is really exciting – I couldn’t be happier!”

The first cross country action of the day was in the Equi-Trek CCI3*  where the action was thick and fast.  The top three remained unchanged with the exception of Pippa Funnell dropping down to sixth with Jenny Nolan, Ruth McMullen and her own Sandman 7.  She gave the inexperienced gelding a happy run for 4.8 time penalties.  Overnight leader Flora Harris and Caroline Harris and Rebecca Salt’s Bayano were foot perfect to finish five seconds inside the time, as were William Fox-Pitt and Fernhill Pimms, owned by Carol Gee and Catherine Witt, just a single second slower. Kitty King was five seconds over the time with Jane Inns’ Persimmon to add 2.0 penalties which kept them in third.

Flora was pleased with her ride; “He was excellent.  He started fresh but he tired around two thirds of the way round.  Everything pretty much went to plan and I kept positive all the way round.”

It’s close and Flora doesn’t have a fence in hand to play with over William so it’ll be a nail biting finish to the end.

The Bishop Burton College u25 CCI3* leader Holly Woodhead also kept her spot with DHI Lupison after a great round which resulted in Holly finishing just one second under the time. Dani Evans had a fabulous day with two good rounds but the better was on her younger ride, Smart time where just 0.8 time penalties added to her dressage of 39.4 to move her from fourth after dressage to second.  Emily King and Brookleigh also capitalised on a faultless cross country ride to improve two places to third.  Dani’s second ride, Raphael II, was slightly slower to notch up 4 time penalties to drop a spot to fourth.

On her CCI3* debut, Holly commented; “That was pretty cool!  Really, we were like the blind leading the blind but he did everything I asked and even looked after me in places.  I lost my way with my clock part of the way round but he’s amazing, you can just ride him in a rhythm which gets you there in time.  We both just grew in confidence as we went round.”

Tomorrow gets underway with the Bishop Burton College CCI u25 trot up at 8:00 before they show jump at 9:45.  Then on to the Equi-Trek trot up before their show jumping to decide our champions.

Full results – click here

Rider interviews – click here

Sizzling scores in the sunshine

Our first rider in the arena this morning at 9 o’clock sharp in the Equi-Trek CCI3* stole the lead and managed to stay there for the day’s duration.  That was Flora Harris with Caroline Harris and Rebecca Salt’s Bayano.  Their brilliant 36.8, equivalent to 75.45%, gave them a six penalty advantage ahead of the overnight leader, Gwendolen Fer.  Kitty King came close with a well presented 38.9 on Frank and Jane Inns’ Persimmon but it wasn’t quite enough.

The spectators flocked to the arena mid-morning to see what ‘Mr Bramham’, William Fox-Pitt could produce with the relative newcomer Fernhill Pimms, owned by Carol Gee and Catherine Witt.  The seven time winner didn’t disappoint and gave it his best shot but fell just short with 38.1.  It was enough to keep second as the final late challenge came from Pippa Funnell and Sandman 7, owned by her, mum Jenny Nolan and Ruth McMullen, who received a share in the horse for her 80th birthday as a thank you for her support over the years.  It looked to be a polished performance and the commentator announced a provisional score of 39 but that was later revised to 38.9 to equal Kitty to share third.

So World Class supported Flora Harris finds herself on top with Bayano. Afterwards she said; “He (Bayano) was very good today.  He used to be hot and tricky in the dressage but he’s recently got his head around it and was a very good boy.  As he’s developed, people kept saying he had loads of potential but it never seemed to appear!  But I think people underestimate how long it can take them to become strong enough to cope with 30 dressage movements at this level and I really feel he was worth persevering with!”

Flora is looking forward to tackling Ian Stark’s course tomorrow; “It’s a beautiful course and it certainly won’t be a dressage competition.  There’s plenty to test them but I think it will sit my horse.  We’ll be giving it our best shot, that’s for sure!”.

Third placed Kitty King was ‘delighted’ with her ride; “He went really well and tried; his changes were the best they’ve ever been and he stayed soft and supple the whole time,” she said.

Pippa was equally happy with her ‘special’ horse; “I’m delighted with him and he’s improving all the time.  He’s not had a conventional start as I bought him from a video from Germany on the advice of a good friend.  His win at Chatsworth has brought him on but he’s had a quick rise having done one one star and one two star but we did take him to Boekelo last October but I had a fall due to being hit by a branch on the cross country.  It will be interesting to see how tomorrow goes; we’re short on practice at big waters but he coped well at Chatsworth so we’ll see.”

Pippa also finds herself top of the pile in the British Equestrian Trade Association CIC3* with her own and Carol Toliver’s homebred Billy the Biz.  By Cevin Z, the grey was originally bred to show jump and indeed Carol bought him, and another, to become a jumping owner but Pippa spotted eventing potential in him.  The horse is a character at home and is the ‘phantom raspberry blower’ as he loves to perform for the yard and then deny all knowledge!  Their 34.7 wasn’t to be beaten and home favourite Nicola Wilson held on to second with her parents Mary and Barry Tweddle’s Anne Clover on 37.4.  New Zealand rider Caroline Powell is third with Onwards and Upwards on 39.0.

Pippa was clearly surprised; “If you’d have bet me £20,000 I’d never have believed he could do a test like that when we started eventing him.   He was bred to show jump and did well but then we felt he was brave enough for eventing but he simply didn’t move for dressage.  He’s a freak on the flat; I never expected him to score below 50, never mind below 40!”  Ahead of tomorrow she added; “This will be his first big test as he’s been ‘fast-tracked’ and he’s never seen some of the fences.  I’ll ride him how he’s going, not to chase the clock so we’ll just have to see where that leaves us.”

Nicola gave her thoughts on tomorrow’s test; “There’s a lot to jump out there and as with all of Ian’s courses, you have to ride every stride from start to finish.  My two CIC horses are experienced so the run should set them up ahead of our summer campaign after their good runs at Lexington but it’s Bulana’s first three star and a big step up for her.  I’m looking forward to it and excited for what tomorrow brings.”

The Bishop Burton College u25 CCI3*was a celebration of strong eventing dressage with the top four riders all going sub-40.  It was Holly Woodhead with Ian and Heidi Woodhead’s DHI Lupison who scored a stunning 33.0 – which equates to 78.01%.  Holly started her equestrian career in dressage, representing Britain at the Pony European Championships in 2009 and 2010 before directing her full attention to eventing so her skill for the phase started early but Lupison exceeded expectations today. “Wow…just wow!  I never expected that!” she said.  “We’ve had good preparation before coming here but that’s the best test he’s done to date; I couldn’t have asked anything more from him.  I’m lucky as my sister (dressage rider Amy) had him for a few days while I was competing at Tattersalls last week and her training has obviously worked!  I also have to say a huge thanks to Gill Watson who has helped me to really focus and also the World Class Programme for all it provides – it gives you a kick when you need it or hug if you need one of those!” she continued. The performance was particularly poignant as DHI Lupison was owned by Holly’s grandfather Alan who passed away last Sunday.

Millie Dumas is second with Susan Larson and her own Artistiek on 36.7 while Dani Evans and Raphael II had to settle for third after leading the dressage in 2013 and ’14 on 38.3.

Holly concluded; “I’m really excited about tomorrow – it’s my – and his – first ever three star and it’s a typical Ian Stark course; big, bold and beautiful.  I still can’t get over today’s score though!”

Tomorrow’s action gets under way in the Equi-Trek arena with the BETA CIC3* show jumping at 08:30 and first horse sets off on Ian Stark’s cross country at 09:30 in the Equi-Trek CCI3*, followed by the Bishop Burton College u25 CCI3* at 13.16 before the climax of the CIC3* at 14.50.

You can hear what the riders had to say on our media player.

Follow the results here throughout the day.

France’s Fer leads the way

Day one at Bramham dawned under the early morning mist but by the start of dressage, the main arena was basking in early summer sunshine.  In the Equi-Trek CCI3*, Kiwi and 2009 Bramham winner Andrew Nicholson set the early pace with a 45.9 with Tom Joules’ MHS King Joules.  But just before lunch, Oxfordshire rider Lydia Hannon stole the march (and the lead) with Christopher Harris’ My Royal Touch.  The combination are making a return trip to Bramham after disappointment last year when lying third after dressage in the Bishop Burton College U25 CCI3* they had a fall on the flat and were eliminated so today’s score gives them a great start to make amends.

After lunch, France’s Gwendolen Fer produced a stunning test with her 2015 Fontainebleu CIC-NC runner up, Romantic Love to score 42.8 and take the lead by just under two penalty points. Towards the end of the day, Lauren Kieffer from the US equalled Lydia’s score but Lydia just edged her into third by virtue of better collective marks.  It looked like Ireland could upset the top podium as Sarah Ennis and Horseware Stellor Rebound were scoring well throughout their test but they came up just short for fourth on 45.7.

So our CCI leader board has a true international flavour with seven nations represented in the top ten but it’s advantage France going into day two with 38 further combinations to come.

In the British Equestrian Trade Association CIC3*, it’s a familiar face atop the leader board in local heroine Nicola Wilson with her parents Mary and Barry Tweddle’s Annie Clover.  This is the duo’s third trip to the Yorkshire venue and today they really wowed the judges with all three awarding them over 73% to score 37.4, a career best at international three star level.  Nicola was thrilled with the mare who she took to last year’s World Championships and said; “She was super today; really soft, rideable and very elegant.  One of my flying changes wasn’t quite as I wanted; it was clean but a felt a bit ‘abrupt’.  I was absolutely delighted with the way she performed in there as it’s her first competition back after a little holiday following her trip to Lexington in America.  To do another super test like this is brilliant for us all.”

New Zealander Caroline Powell with Onwards and Upwards were just 1.6 penalties adrift to finish second and disrupt a British clean sweep of the top five.  Ruth Edge put her dressage know-how to good use (she also rides to Grand Prix level in dressage) with Tracy Whalley’s The Winter King to score 40.8 for third.  Fourth spot is occupied by Leicestershire’s Imogen Murray on 41.3 with Wiseguy IV, with whom she made her four star debut at Burghley last year.  Izzy Taylor completes the top five with France Carter and Susan Holroyd’s Allercombe Ellie on 41.6.

There’s 16 more to come tomorrow to finish the dressage off before they show jump early on Saturday.  Both Nicola and Imogen have another ride to try and better their positions.

All the combinations in the Bishop Burton College U25 CCI3* are safely through the first horse inspection which gives us 22 for the start of dressage tomorrow at 11.38 in the Equi-Trek arena.

Full results – click here
Rider interviews – click here

And we’re off!

The Equi-Trek CCI3* got underway this afternoon in idyllic conditions with the resplendent Bramham house as a back drop in a sunbathed scene for the first horse inspection.  Number 50, Highland Ford, ridden by Richard Jones and owned by Jane and David Miles withdrew at the horse inspection and numbers 36 (Horseware Stellor Rebound/Sarra Ennis IRL and 77 (Crown Talisman/Nick Gauntlett) were both held by the ground jury but then passed after a few nervous moments.  So that gives us 72 combinations to come forward for dressage in the main arena under the ground jury (judges) Angela Tucker, Harry Payne and Christina Klingspor (SWE).  The CCI starts at 10:00 with our first rider, Mark Kyle for Ireland with Ron Pearson’s Jesmond Justice.

The British Equestrian Trade Association CIC3* gets the day underway beforehand at 9:00am when locally born and bred Oliver Townend trots up the centre line with Sue Chadwick and Komfi’s Samuel Thomas II; the first of 56 combinations.  The judges for this all-important class are Andrew Bennie (NZL), Jane Tolley and Nikki Herbert.

Follow the scores through the day on www.bdwp.co.uk

Stars Converge on Bramham for Stellar Spectacle

The final countdown has begun…the entries are in…the finishing touches are begin made…excitement levels are at maximum and the green light is just days away for the 2015 instalment of the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials, June 11 – 14.   The entry list reads like a who’s who of eventing; medallists galore, six former winners, a current World Champion and three riders in the world top eight so visitors and supporters won’t be disappointed. Over 170 combinations from 13 countries around the world will converge on Yorkshire next week for three top-drawer competitions; the Equi-Trek CCI3*, the British Equestrian Trade Association CIC3* and the Bishop Burton College U25 CCI3*. Bidding for an unrivalled eighth win, William Fox-Pitt heads the British entry with Pippa Funnell, Kristina Cook, Oliver Townend and local heroine Nicola Wilson all amongst the top names entered.

William, announced today as the new world number one, places his hopes in a single ride, Carol Gee and Catherine Witt’s Fernhill Pimms who was a winner Blenheim’s special CIC3* for eight and nine year olds in 2013 but is yet to complete a CCI3*. With a year’s use of an Equi-Trek Sonic horse box, as well as £5750 first prize, at stake, rest assured William will bring the horse fighting fit as it’s a prize he always wants to win! Oliver Townend, born and bred in Huddersfield, will be a busy bee with four rides while Pippa Funnell, two times winner has three horses as does Northallerton’s Nicola Wilson and Kristina Cook, one of which is her 2014 World Championship silver medallist, De Novo News who had an unfortunate fall in the water at last month’s Badminton.

The foreign challenge is led by reigning world champions from Germany, Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo in the BETA CIC3*, who’s over in Britain to be based with team trainer Christopher Bartle at the Yorkshire Riding Centre. It’s a rare appearance on British soil for the combination so get to Bramham to see them ‘live’. Antipodean super stars Andrew Nicholson, Jonathan Paget and Caroline Powell from New Zealand plus former winner Australian Paul Tapner will all be ones to watch. As ever, the Irish and French are sending strong squads with eight and 12 riders respectively and they won’t be there simply to make up numbers.

In the Bishop Burton College U25 CCI3*, last year’s victors Tom Jackson and Waltham Fiddlers Find are attempting make history by winning back to back titles while Dani Evans, Emily King, and Holly Woodhead, making her 3* debut, all have medals to their names and will be hoping to thwart Tom. Swedish siblings Ludwig and Ellen Svennerstal will lead the international charge, albeit from Yorkshire as the duo is also based at the Yorkshire Riding Centre.

The action kicks off on Thursday 11 June with dressage for the CCI and CIC sections while the under 25s are all day Friday with the remainder of the others. Saturday is action day when all three tackle Ian Stark’s stunning cross country. For the CIC competitors, there’s show jumping to be done first in the Equi-Trek Arena while the CCI section is out in the beautiful Bramham parkland. The Under 25s are in the middle before the CIC3* finale where our winner of the £2,000 first prize will be crowned.

Sunday’s climax is the for the two CCI sections where the tap of a toe on a pole could spell disaster in the show jumping. The U25s set the scene before the final CCI competition and with around £29,000 on offer over the two sections, riders will be looking for clear rounds. The CCI riders have the added incentive of that Equi-Trek Sonic horse box for a whole year – quite a prize!

Over the weekend there’s further coloured pole action in the form of British Showjumping classes in both arenas for your enjoyment. A host of top names are booked in including; Robert Smith, Olivia Dales, Kerry Brennan, Laura Robinson, Pippa Allen and an amazing seven members of the Whitaker dynasty – Ellen, George, James, William, Joe, Steven, Louise Saturday afternoon’s feature classes are The Bramham Classic and the Suregrow Fertiliser Six Bar while on Sunday, the Wetherby Skip Services Grand Prix, the wealthiest jumping class on offer, with a £1,500 first prize, brings the event to a close.

Bramham will also host a number of classes in Hunter Show on Thursday including Horse of the Year Show qualifiers for light, middle & heavy weight and working Hunters while the Pony Club Mounted Games will feature in the TopSpec Arena on both Saturday and Sunday plus the Pony Club Team Jumping on Saturday. Always with an eye on the future, young horses will also feature heavily with Bramham hosting a Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse four and five year old qualifier for the prestigious Championship in September, plus Event Horse Breeding and Young Stock Classes for foals to three year olds.

A full list of CCI & CIC entries can be found on www.bdwp.co.uk/bra plus the full competition timetable and event news is available on www.bramham-horse.co.uk. Daily tickets are available for purchase on the gate – prices start at £12 per adult, children under 12 go free and car parking is £5. The telephone box office is now closed but you can still use the online box office until Saturday 06 June so book your tickets now to take advantage of discounted prices and free car parking!

For all you budding photographers, make sure your camera is primed for action as there’s a competition and your image could be our programme cover star next year!

We hope you like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter – they’re the best place to see what happens at this year’s monumental event!

HUNTERS – IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT – RULES REGARDING HEADWEAR FOR RIDDEN COMPETITORS

At the SHB (GB) Council meeting on 19th May the rule on the wearing of BSI hats was brought up, following requests from the Members meeting. Many shows already have the hat rule in place which must be met, but the Members wanted to be able to choose when possible. There was a majority vote in favour of removing the rule and this change will be implemented on 1st June 2015 and the rules regarding headwear will read as follows:

“It is strongly recommended that competitors aged 18 or over wear skull

caps or hats with safety harness in accordance with the current approved BSI or European Standard, in order to minimise risk of head injury. It is mandatory for competitors under the age of 18 to wear such skull caps or hats”.

Please note that there is no change in relation to the headwear for competitors in the jumping phase of working hunter classes and jumping phase of ridden sport horse classes where competitors MUST wear a skull cap or hat and safety harness in accordance with the current approved BSI or European standard.