The sun shone on everybody at Cornbury House Horse Trials today, but brightest on Olympic gold medallist Laura Collett. The Gloucestershire-based rider not only won CCI3*-S section A on the Ace of Spades Syndicate’s Calahari, but also took two of the three British Eventing Open Intermediate classes (on Dacapo and Sportsfield Freelance) as well.
Laura is riding 10-year-old Calahari while Irish eventer Aoife Clark recovers from a broken arm, and the pair finished on their dressage score of 23.2.
“I’d love to keep him for longer,” admitted Laura. “He’s been quite tricky to try to find the buttons for – he’s quite a nervy type of horse and he was unsettled by having a new rider. But it felt like here we understood each other from the get-go in all three phases. He’s an amazing galloper; he’s very ‘blood’ and that’s taken a bit of getting used to. He’s a really fun horse.”
Calahari’s end-of-season goal is the CCI4*-L at Blenheim next week, and Cornbury has provided the perfect preparation.
“The cross-country course here is really good, and I thought the changes this year made it flow nicely. It’s a galloping, attacking track, which was exactly what I wanted.”
Laura is also full of praise for the superb hospitality her owners are receiving here at Cornbury House Horse Trials.
“My owners have commented on how incredible it has been for them, which I personally think it’s the most important part of our sport. They have been blown away by the hospitality. At the end of the day we cannot do our sport without owners, so for David Howden [event president and founder] to provide something like this hopefully will make every other event up their game. I hope this will trickle back to other events and other organisers will follow suit.”
Laura’s three victories so far give her a fighting chance of winning Cornbury’s coveted Leading Rider Award – a cheque for £2,500 and a magnificent silver trophy.
Second in CCI3*-S section A was Douglas Edward, riding his own and Amanda Edwards’ Email De Jarsay, with a score of 29.6. Samantha Brown and Spirit LSS took third on 26.3.
Two Wills won CCI3*-S section B: Will Rawlin on his own and Miranda Rawlin’s Ballycoog Breaker Boy, whose stable name is William. They finished on their dressage score of 26.7 in hot conditions.
It wasn’t Will’s intention to push on for victory, but as he set off around the undulating track he felt the 11-year-old needed some positive riding.
Will said: “He started off just a bit spooky and a bit sticky and I thought we need to go up a gear or two and get into that rhythm. He is so big that he just eats up the ground effortlessly – he just skipped around it like it was nothing, which is always a nice feeling. He has an effortless gallop and I don’t need to do much setting up for the fences, which is where you can save a few seconds.”
Will is also planning on heading to Blenheim CCI-L 4*.
Second was Rose Nesbitt, who added nothing to her dressage score of 27.6 on the family-owned EG Michealangelo.Georgie Campbell finished third on Global Quest, owned by Lance and Diana Morrish, with a score of 28.8.
The remaining Open Intermediate section went to New Zealand’s Clarke Johnstone and Menlo Park, while Pippa Taylor won the Intermediate class on Tequila Sunrise.
Cornbury House Horse Trials continues until Sunday (10 September) with The Howden Way National Young Horse Championships, under-21 classes at CCI3*-S, CCI*-S and a Pony Trial under The Howden Way banner, CCI2*-S sections and more national intermediate classes. All the cross-country is being livestreamed for free via the event website and on Horse & Country TV.
Tickets for Cornbury House Horse Trials, which features far more than “just” the international horse sport, can be bought online via the website or on the gate. “Field Food” celebrates a wide variety of delicious, locally-produced food and drink, including from the Cornbury estate, while at the weekend “Wildings” is a shaded, interactive area full of children’s activities.
Visit www.cornburyhousehorsetrials to buy tickets, watch the livestream and for more information.