A bright, warm morning heralded the start of a full day of action at Osberton International, which saw dressage, cross-country, and carriage driving play out across the estate.
Agria Equine Lifetime CCI1*
Over 100 competitors left the startbox for today’s feature class, the Agria Equine Lifetime CCI1*, and now, that line-up has been thinned to 83 remaining competitors after an influential, educational day of action on the Stuart Buntine-designed cross-country course.
As one of the earliest competitors to head out on course, first-phase leaders Simon Grieve and Make Believe may not have had the benefit of track feedback – but they certainly didn’t need it. Osberton Ambassador Simon set out from the startbox positively but sympathetically, letting Ellie and Emma Crabtree’s eight-year-old mare find her rhythm and build her confidence before adding in a touch more speed to cross the finish line two seconds inside the time and retain the top spot going into tomorrow’s showjumping.
“She’s never done this level before – she’s done several BE100s, but she’s never gone above that, so this was quite a test for her,” said Simon. “I thought the course was quite strong right from the word go, but she coped well, and I’m very pleased with her. The first major questions came at fences four and six, and she was green through them, but the course developed really nicely and was relatively straightforward at the end, so I think she’ll have come on a lot from the experience.”
Arena Saddles CCI2*-L
Though Max Warburton’s early-morning bid for dominance in the Arena Saddles CCI2*-L looked as though it might be hold throughout the day, his 24.3 with Morningstar Van Altrido was overturned at the very tail end of the day by Oliver Townend and the eight-year-old Coolafancy, who put a convincing 23.9 on the scoreboard to claim the lead going into cross-country.
This is just the third run, and first FEI outing, for Oliver and Coolafancy, who he began riding in July for longtime friend and groom Jessica McKie, and with whom he was victorious in the Novice at Moreton Morrell last week. This month’s Burghley-winning rider also returns to Osberton as the reigning CCI2*-L champion; he took the honours in this class last year with Finley du Loir, who sits third after the first phase in the CCI3*-L on a score of 25.7.
The first-phase leader in this class, though, is just a whisper ahead: Emily King threw down the gauntlet to take the top spot with Jackpot on a 25, ahead of Kitty King and Cristal Fontaine on a 25.2, making the margins for tomorrow’s cross-country showdown incredibly tight.
“He’s quite a calm, calculated, quiet horse, and so I quite like it when there’s a bit of an atmosphere, because it gives him a bit more life,” said Emily. “I’m super pleased with him; he had some lovely bits in there.”
Now, Emily’s looking forward to heading out onto Stuart Buntine’s cross-country course tomorrow with Stuart and Vicki Irlam’s exciting nine-year-old, with whom she won the CCI3*-L at Millstreet earlier this season.
“The going is perfect, and the team have done a fantastic job on the course,” said Emily. “There’s some new ground they’ve been able to use, and so it’s much more open and galloping, which I think will ride really well. It’ll be a good, educational course for the horses – they can have a good spin, and I’ll just have to try not get any time penalties!”
Project Pony CCIP2*-S
Eight riders remain in the hunt for the CCIP2*-S title after a fierce battle across the country today – and fittingly, our new leader, Annabel Ridgway, is a rider who has been particularly positively impacted by title sponsors Project Pony. The organisation, which aims to pair talented ponies with deserving riders to create sporting opportunities, was responsible for her partnership with leading pony Akim de l’Arquerie – a savvy bit of matchmaking that the 14-year-old rider described as “a dream come true.”
“He’s such a lovely pony; he cares about me and looks after me all the time,” said the Oxfordshire teen. “He’s teaching me how to do it, and he’s been absolutely incredible. I can’t believe I’ve just gone clear – it’s my first-ever Pony Two-Star!”
Annabel didn’t just go clear across the country – she was one of just two riders to catch the 5:49 optimum time, and in doing so, she overtook first-phase leader Ella Howard and Midnight Mist III, whose 0.8 time penalties put them on the same overnight score but into second place. Ella also sits third overnight with Colemanstown Rocket, who picked up 4 time penalties on course.
Telstar Trophy Novice & Foljambe Bowl Intermediate
There was a shake-up at the top of the Telstar Trophy Novice Restricted Three-Day, which saw first-phase leaders Laura Erith and Stonehavens Orestus slip down to fifth place after adding 8 time penalties to their dressage score of 29.4. That opened the door for Katie Thomas and Cefnpant Iolo to climb from overnight third into the lead.
“He was amazing – he just kept jumping. We haven’t done much this year, and the couple of events we have done look quite small compared to this track, but he felt really, really good,” said Katie, who crossed the finish line just one second over the optimum time. She’ll head into tomorrow’s final phase with a rail in hand over her nearest competitor, Katie Read and Catch Me 51, who delivered the fastest round of the day when coming home six seconds inside the 7:22 optimum time.
Wiltshire-based competitor Megan Brown and Don Stefano retain their first-phase score of 34.1 in the Foljambe Bowl Intermediate, having crossed the finish line today with neither jumping nor time penalties on their score sheet. Both Restricted Three-Day classes will conclude with their showjumping finales tomorrow.
Saturday at Osberton is cross-country day for the Investec CCI3*-L and the Arena Saddles CCI2*-L, running from 8.30 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. respectively, while the Project Pony CCIP2*-S, the Telstar Trophy Novice, the Folkambe Bowl Intermediate, and the Agria Equine Lifetime CCI1* will all take to the showjumping arena, beginning with the CCI1* at 10.00 a.m. The CCIP2*-S will showjump from 14.00, followed by the Restricted Novice at 15.00 and the Restricted Intermediate at 16.00. All four of these classes will first have to present at the final horse inspection, beginning at 8.30 a.m.
In case one world-class equestrian discipline isn’t enough, Osberton is also proud to play host to the Bennington Carriages National Carriage Driving event, featuring some of the biggest names in the sport. Our drivers got their competition underway today with the dressage phase. Thirteen classes, spanning from single ponies to four-in-hand horses, took to the arena in hot pursuit of the lowest penalty score – and the very best of the day was former National Champion, Lancashire’s Chris Ainscough, who leads the Single Horse class on a 41.69, marking a hotly anticipated return to the upper echelons of the sport for Ainscough.
The carriage driving action wrapped up with the horse fours class, which is led decisively overnight by British team stalwart Karen Bassett on a score of 45.45.
“I was very happy, but I needed to make sure I did everything that I’ve been working on – like being brave enough to give the leader horses a little tickle before I went in so they’d be really forward, because at the National Championships, they went really sweetly for me but didn’t quite go forward in the test,” she explained. “Today, I made sure they were really forward and active, and they went really well.”
Tomorrow sees the carriage driving competitors tackle their equivalent of eventing’s showjumping phase – the nuanced art of the Cones competition, beginning at 11.00 a.m.
To experience the thrill of Marathon Driving, the exciting final phase of the carriage driving competition, make sure to book your Car Pass for Sunday 1st October.
There is all the fun of the fair with bouncy castle and slide, fairground attractions galore and even an undercover Kids Zone, that supports the Bluebell Woods Children’s Hospice, with plenty of activities to keep the little ones occupied.
Osberton International – 28th September – 1st October, offers a great day out for all the family, with lots to see and do, alongside world class equestrian action.
To attend the event simply book Car Parking which includes entry to all occupants. Tickets are available from £15 per car via www.bede-events.co.uk/tickets
Image courtesy of Hannah Cole Photography/EquiConsulting