Gloucestershire’s Saskia Davies pulled off her first ever international victory today at Cornbury House Horse Trials (6-10 September 2023), winning CCI2*-S section G on her own 18-year-old Singing Usk.
Saskia, who finished on her dressage score of 26.1, said: “This little horse has done so much for me. The [cross-country] course was definitely a challenge and a lot of riding such different terrain – up and down – comes down to timing and so there were a few moments where I had to kick on, but he was absolutely fantastic and answered every question.”
Sam Jennings was second on Monbeg Iguassu, whom she owns with Lucy Cunliffe and Diana Osmond. Phoebe Locke took third with Lara Chapple’s Slaneyside Cooley.
The Netherlands’ Nina de Haas had an excellent day at Cornbury House, winning CCI2*-S section H on Martin and Kerry Richards’ JVK Maguire on an impressive score of 23.8. She also finished third in CCI2*-S section I with David Scholfield’s Ballylaffin Juno.
Nina was dropping eight-year-old JVK Maguire down a level for a confidence-giving run, and said: “He’s quite cheeky, but he’s so talented and I am happy that I can show it off this time. I really hope that to get him back out at three-star and at four-star in the future – he definitely has the ability.”
She is based with her compatriot Andrew Heffernan – who is the Dutch national coach as well as a championship team member himself – at Somerford Park in Cheshire. Andrew joined David Evans this year in designing the cross-country courses at Cornbury.
Nina said: “It’s been really good having him here to walk the course with me and to help me warm up. Cornbury is such a beautiful event and has a lovely atmosphere as well.”
Kaitlyn Freeman was second for New Zealand on Joe and Alex Giannmore’s Zazu, and Tom McEwen was third on Alison Swinburn and John and Chloe Perry’s Brookfield Quality Time.
Another New Zealander, Jesse Campbell, celebrated his win on Wendy and Johnnie Watherston’s Gracie De La Rose in CCI2*-S section I by heading straight to the golf course afterwards.
Jesse has the seven-year-old Jaguar Mail mare since she was four – and she hasn’t always been easy.
“Gracie has been a bit of a project,” he explained. “She was started quite late as a four-year-old and was quite big and strong. It has taken a bit of managing and persuading to get her on-side and I feel like we are starting to get there. She internalises things a lot which maybe comes across as confidence, but then she’s actually a bit nervous and overthinks things a little. We have put in the work, so it’s nice to reap those rewards.”
Jesse was quick to praise course-designer David Evans: “The track is great. We always bring a lot of horses to Cornbury as we know that David Evans puts a huge amount of work into the ground, and it’s a fun course to ride as well.”
Gemma Stevens was second with the Rex Syndicate’s Cooley Park Muze.
Tomorrow (Saturday, 9 September) is time for The Howden Way Young Horse Championships to take centre stage. The current world champion Yasmin Ingham is in the lead after dressage in the seven-year-old finals on Janette Chinn and the Sue Davies Fund’s Gypsie Du Loir with a score of 21.9.
Kitty King is in pole position in the six-year-old championship with 22.7 aboard Kantango, owned by Penelope Holley, Joanna Jones, Jane Boggis and Jane Tolley.
And Gemma Gurvidi heads the five-year-old section on her own Nistel O (26.1).
All of the cross-country from Cornbury House Horse Trials is being livestreamed for free via the event website and also on Horse & Country TV. On Saturday cross-country starts at 8.30am.
For more information, to buy tickets and to watch the livestream, visit www.cornburyhousehorsetrials.co.uk.