Two of Britain’s Olympic gold medallists dominated today’s championship classes at the Magic Millions Festival of Eventing at Gatcombe Park.
Oliver Townend, the world number one, finished first and second in the Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship. It is his fifth national title in this class and his 10th at The Festival.
He won on a new ride this season, Sir John Peace’s French-bred Finley du Loir, the dressage leader, and was runner-up to himself on Chris Gould’s Samiro Cruz MC, a seven-year-old Irish-bred gelding he’s been competing since 2020.
Tom McEwen, also part of the Tokyo 2020 team last year and the individual silver medallist, was third on Falaise de Riverland and won the Evelyn Partners British Intermediate Championship on Martin Belsham’s Luna Mist. He also leads the ROR/NFT Retraining of Racehorses class on Magdalena Gut’s Dream Big.
Oliver Townend, who has 10 rides this weekend, strongly emphasised the educational benefits of taking a horse to Gatcombe. “Now I know I’ve got the best novice horse in the country,” he said. “I love it here and you learn a lot about your horses. They will come on a lot for the experience and you learn a great deal about their stamina.
“I think it’s an important part of a horse’s education and you only have to look at the previous winners that have gone on to be superstars.”
French rider Gaspard Maksud was fourth on She’s The One, Saskia Davies was fifth on Singing Usk and Gubby Leech sixth on Damage Van Berkenbroeck Z. Noemi Doerfer representing Hungary was second after show jumping but slipped to 11th with 9.6 time penalties.
There were 55 clear rounds from the 68 cross-country starters in this competitive class, but only five inside the optimum time.
“It has been a wonderful competition and Oliver is a really deserving winner,” commented Sam Horrell, Managing Director of Dodson & Horrell. “This championship class has been running at The Festival for 20 years now and over that time we have seen some memorable wins and horses going on to compete at the very top of the sport—I can’t wait to see how this combination progresses over their career. It is important to D&H to support horses and riders right from grassroots up to our elite athletes and this Novice Championships forms a part of that journey.”
New British Intermediate Champion Tom McEwen, who described his winning mare Luna Mist as having “huge bundles of potential”, heaped praise on the organising team at the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing. “I know I’m biased because I live here [at Gatcombe], but it’s not easy to put on a horse trials in this weather and they have pulled it off in spades.
“The cross-country course is super flowing and the going is excellent; the horses are comfortable on it and leaving a good print.”
Oliver Townend finished second and third on two of the Caunton Stud’s mares, Crazy du Loir and Caunton First Class, ahead of Georgie Campbell, fourth on Global Quest.
“Many congratulations to Tom,” said Joss Dalrymple, Group Head of Private Clients at Evelyn Partners, formerly Smith & Williamson. “We have thoroughly enjoyed watching all three phases unfold in the stunning setting of Gatcombe Park and we are proud to be sponsoring the British Intermediate Championship.”
The two inaugural BioWaveGO Open Intermediate sections were won by New Zealander Tim Price on Michael McGrath’s Gurtura Jimmy Clover and US rider Caroline Martin with Redfield King’s HX Group’s King’s Especiale.
Tomorrow is the prestigious Magic Millions British Open Championship. Tim Price, whose wife Jonelle won it in 2019, is the current leader with a dressage mark of 23 on Vitali. Pippa Funnell, the winner exactly 30 years ago on Sir Barnaby, is second and third with Billy Walk On and Majas Hope.
For full results and timings, visit www.eventingscores.co.uk
Images courtesy of The Festival of British Eventing