Davidson and Townend star at Alnwick Ford

Mark Davidson scored his first-ever international win in the AW Jenkinson Ltd CCI3*-S at Alnwick Ford on The Round Table Syndicate’s Fonbherna Lancer. 

Mark, 29, works for Piggy March at her Northamptonshire yard and has “four or five” of his own horses to compete as well. He led throughout the competition, and finished on his dressage score of 29.3 aboard the 13-year-old Fonbherna Lancer, who won twice at CCI4*-S level when competed by Izzy Taylor.

“I’m normally the king of coming second, so this is fantastic,” said Mark, who is originally from Cumbria. “He is such a lovely horse – a total gentleman. He was on the market and Piggy suggested I found some people to form a syndicate for him. Luckily, I found some nice people to enjoy him, and I love riding him. This is only our third competition together and our first three-star, so we are still finding our feet and getting to know each other, but I was really pleased with him.

“He did a lovely dressage test, and then the time in the showjumping was very tight and I was conscious that Oliver Townend [second on Caunton First Class] was breathing down my neck, but the more you dare this horse, the more he loves it. He was brilliant across country and really enjoyed a good scamper round.”

Mark hopes to do a CCI4*-S with the Tangelo Van De Zuuthoeve gelding later in the season and, having won this second leg of the Northumberland Challenge, which offers big prize-money to riders winning or placed in the first three at Belsay, Alnwick Ford and Burgham, will be aiming for the third leg of the Challenge at Burgham (27-30 July).

Shropshire-based former world number one Oliver Townend, a regular visitor to all three of Northumberland’s international horse trials, took second on Sir John Peace’s nine-year-old Amiro Z mare Caunton First Class, just 0.6 of a penalty behind the winners.

Michael Owen finished third and fourth on Treworder and J’Adore Salsa.

Oliver Townend, who won the first leg of the Northumberland Challenge at CCI2*-S level at Belsay a few weeks ago, triumphed again in the NIS Ltd CCI2*-S at Alnwick Ford.

Riding Sir John Peace’s Hialisca De Takam, a six-year-old mare by Iolisco De Quinhon, Oliver led the dressage with a mark of 24.1, rolled one showjumping pole and went clear inside the time across country to finish on 28.1.

He was also second on Fargann Des Loges, an eight-year-old Aristide De Hus gelding also owned by Sir John Peace. Oliver sourced both horses from France last autumn.

“Hialisca De Takam was the four-year-old champion in France and is incredibly exciting – I can’t find a weakness in her,” said Oliver. “She moves beautifully, is a lovely mare and a fantastic jumper, and absolutely loves going cross-country. She is straight as a die and honest – a proper top-class event horse.

“Fargann Des Loges is again top-class with lots of “blood”. He’s a very good jumper and careful – he didn’t deserve to fall in the water at Belsay, but he’s been cross-country schooling since and felt great here.”

Oliver continued: “I think this is one of the best events in the country. It’s got a great atmosphere, the organisers had done everything to make the ground conditions as comfortable as possible for the horses, the tracks were fun to ride round and the time is quite difficult to get, which is a nice change in this day and age.”

He is another who will continue to chase the £45,000 on offer in total across the Northumberland Challenge at Burgham.

“We will always support initiatives like this and we appreciate the organisers and sponsors’ efforts to try to reward riders,” said Oliver.

Mark Davidson also went home with third prize in this class, again completing on his dressage score (29.3) aboard Kate Walls’ eight-year-old Bloomfield Manuscript.

“He’s a gorgeous stamp of a horse – a real oil painting – but he’s very big and Kate finds him too big to keep together in the showjumping, so asked me to have a go,” said Mark. 

“He did a nice, professional job in the dressage with more to come – it’s only our second event together – and he needs to strengthen up as he’s still quite weak, but he’s got it all there. He finished really well and will step up to intermediate next time.”

Gloucestershire’s Michael Jackson finished fourth on One Fine Day, a six-year-old Amiro Z mare owned by Clemmie Fraser and Pippa Hornby whom Mike bought as a four-year-old from her breeder, Jodie Amos.

“This was my first visit to Alnwick Ford, and it was well worth the long drive,” said Mike, who is also planning to return north for Burgham next month. “All three of my horses went really well, and will have gained in confidence and education from their runs.”

For full results, click here.

Images courtesy of Lottie Elizabeth Photography.

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