NEWs

Oliver Townend is British National Champion in thrilling British Open won by Tim Price

New Zealander Tim Price, the world number three in eventing, won his first title at the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing in a thrilling finale to the showpiece class, the Magic Millions British Open.

The scene was set for a nail-biting climax as the highest-placed riders chased each other around Gatcombe Park’s famously spectacular bowl. Tim’s good time of four time penalties on Joe and Alex Giannamore’s spring-heeled jumper Vitali was good enough to keep him just ahead of Oliver Townend on the Chamberlayne family’s Dreamliner.

“He’s a really good jumper and he was ready for this,” said Tim of the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding originally produced by fellow Kiwi James Avery. “It’s the perfect preparation for Burghley. The course was really good – they’ve done a great job with the ground here.”

As highest-placed Briton, Oliver became British National Champion for the third time and in a vintage display of dashing horsemanship was the only one to achieve the notoriously elusive optimum time in this competition.

Pippa Funnell, the British Open champion in 1992 and twice a national champion, led after the first two phases and was the very last rider on course with the majestic, long-striding Billy Walk On, but a tally of 8.4 time penalties dropped her to third place, 2.8 behind Tim and just 0.7 behind Oliver.

Pippa had a frustrating rider fall from her first ride, Majas Hope, who had been third going into cross-country, when the horse caught a leg at a corner fence and dislodged her from the saddle.

Oliver completed a good weekend with fourth place on Lukas ahead of the 2019 winners Jonelle Price and the brilliant mare Classic Moet in fifth.

“We are delighted that there was such a thrilling end to the British Open, with truly dazzling displays of partnerships between horse and rider,” said Katie Page-Harvey, Co-owner of Magic Millions.

“Tim Price and Vitali are to be congratulated for their talented performance and success on the day. It has been a great weekend of equine sport and we look forward to seeing how all of the champions from this weekend progress over the next three years.”

US rider Caroline Martin ended her successful first visit to Gatcombe with a win in the Bredon School Open Novice section G riding Galwaybay Redfield HSH Connor owned with Sherrie Martin and Luann McElduff. Section H was won by Nicholas Lucey aboard Sheena Pilkington’s To Kalo Arlo.

Caroline, who usually divides her year between Pennsylvania and Florida, is taking a break from her sales business to spend an eventing season with Pippa Funnell. “I’ve got so much to catch up on, but I’m so lucky to have Pippa in my corner,” she said.

“I think every US rider should come to Gatcombe. I’ve never ridden on terrain like this before and the atmosphere has been fantastic.”

“We have had a fantastic event crowning five Champions. Thank you to Magic Millions for their support and everyone who came to enjoy an action-packed weekend at The Festival,” said Event Director Peter Phillips.

British Eventing (BE) CEO, Helen West added, “We are incredibly grateful to HRH The Princess Royal for hosting this prestigious Championships. Gatcombe Park provides a unique opportunity to ride on proper terrain, which makes the cross country test particularly influential. Congratulations to this year’s deserving BE National Champions.”

For full results, visit www.eventingscores.co.uk

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