The sun fittingly shone across all four days of the inaugural British Eventing Harry Hall One Club ACE Championships which ran between 1 – 4 June at the Aintree Equestrian Centre in Liverpool. This afternoon, Sunday, saw the four day championship event draw to a close having seen some great riding from all qualified riders taking part and many new friendships forged before heading home.
With qualifiers having taken place across the country since last Autumn it was great to see such a geographical spread of riders head to Aintree to contest their respective Finals. Opening up the competition across the first two days were the seniors and it was Christine Nolan from Rochdale, Lancashire with her bay mare Holly that led from the front in the Harry Hall One Club Senior 70cm ACE Championship to secure the first Championship title on offer. They were first in the arena and held pole position to the end to take the very first title awarded of the championships having come through the finish line clear and just 1.66 seconds ahead of the 117 seconds optimum time. Talking afterwards Christine said “She’s a bit of an all-rounder and we do a little bit of BE eventing. This is Holly’s first time at Aintree and it’s so well run, we just love it here.” It was less than a second that separated her from 2nd placed Julia Barber with Just Rolo who took 2nd and Laura Whitfield with Valley of Dreams took 3rd place.
Not one for being held back, Julie Barber and Just Rolo positioned themselves into pole position from their earlier 2nd when they took the Harry Hall One Club Senior 80cm ACE Championship. Julia, from Cannock in Staffordshire, put in an incredibly stylish performance to finish a split second behind the 120 second optimum time to secure the title ahead of Samantha Leighton with Sandras Boy and Rachael Hancos with Kilcorban Brook. Talking after she had finished Julie said “I’ve owned Rolo for 10 years, I bought him as a happy hacker and now here we are winning at Aintree. It’s the most amazing experience we have ever had it really is – thank you to everyone for giving us this opportunity as we have never won anything like this before. It’s fabulous it really is.”
It was a jubiliant Amanda Owen from Telford, Shropshire and Langford who secured the Harry Hall One Club Senior 90cm ACE Championship title. Amanda, who events with BE as well as competing with her Riding Club across all disciplines said “We have been together for three years now and it’s been great being here, we have had a fantastic time we really have and can’t thank everyone enough”. Crossing the finish line clear and just 1;14 seconds short of the 117 secomd optimum time saw them secure the win ahead of Gemma Matchwick and Degla Jack in 2nd and Camille Hardie with For The Boys in 3rd. “
The final championship title for the seniors was the Harry Hall One Club Senior ACE 100cm which was taken by Lauren Gutteridge from Redditch in Worcesterhire aboard Jeremy Fisher. Finishing clear but just over the optimum time was enough to see them head the line-up ahead of Camilla Hardie and Kellythorpes Adonis G in 2nd and Hannah Wilson and Rosscon Mr X Man took 3rd.
With the seniors heading home on Friday night it allowed for the arrival of the Junior competitors that were hoping to pick up their fair share of the rosettes, sashes and rugs that were on offer alongside the generous Harry Hall One Club sponsored prizes.
The first winner to be crowned was 12 year-old Connie Smith from Louth, Lincolnshire with the dun gelding My Clonmore Braces when they took the Harry Hall Junior ACE 70cm Championship. “ I have had Bruce [My Clonmore Braces] for two years now and have been doing pony club eventing. We won the warm up class yesterday and then have won the Championship today. This has just been great, the best time ever.” Their penalty free score saw them almost perfectly meet the optimum time by being just 0.3 of a second before the 113 second target. Hot on their heels was Amy Evans with Meg who were just 1.12 seconds to take 2nd with Millie Eades-Davies and Shooting Star taking 3rd.
The next Championship to take place was the Harry Hall Junior ACE 80cm Championship. Connie almost made it a double when her clear in just 1.6 ahead of the 111 second optimum time saw them take an early lead. However, it was 16 year-old from Kendal, Cumbria that edged ahead to claim the win when they finished within just 0.82 seconds of the optimum. 3rd place went to Mia Blears and Katlyn. After coming out of the presentation Izzy said “I have had her [Brackenspa Bramble] for nine months now and we being doing a bit of everything with the pony club and have only just started eventing.” Their performance was mirrored in the following Harry Hall Junior ACE 90cm Championship when Izzy’s confident riding at a consistent pace saw them victorious once again to take the win ahead of Eleanor Clark with Mullroog Rose and Michael Robb with Millichen’s Tequila who finished in respective 2nd and 3rd place.
The final title of the evening, the Harry Hall Junior ACE100 Championships went to 17 year-old Grace Turner from Worksop, Notts with Lady Lombard. Their win saw them relegate Eleanor Clark into 2nd place aboard Blakehill Watson and Robyn Shutt with Drombane Harry who took 3rd.
It had most certainly been a championships to remember for all those that took part. The community spirit across the entire four days along with the unique and top class facilities available at Aintree made it an extra special occasion and it was great to see so many leaving with new friends that they had made during the event.
Talking at the end of the four days and as the final group of competitors made their weary but happy way home Carly Sage, Equestrian Centre Manager & Assist to the Regional Head of Racing, said “It’s been an absolute delight to have been involved from the concept stage of the championships and to then see them come to fruition here at Aintree. Everyone has had such a good time and it’s been lovely seeing eventing members enjoying our facilities in this way. The Championships have been a great success and we have thoroughly enjoyed having everyone with us. We look forward to seeing the series develop further as it establishes itself as a championship to aim for; attracting both those that who may be on their initial pathway to eventing alongside those who are already established and like to do something different between their eventing runs.”
British Eventing would like to take this opportunity to thank all competitors that took part for their support and to say that we trust they have enjoyed their experience. We would also like to express our thanks to Carly and her team at Aintree who have worked tirelessly to deliver a top class event for both our existing and recently joined members that have spent the last few days on site with her. And of course, last but not least, thanks to our valued sponsor Harry Hall who have been so committed to the championships from the outset and welcoming to all those who have both hosted and participated in the qualifiers.
Images: courtesy of Majestic Photography