Victory for Wills Oakden in The Howden Way-supported 6-year-old class

Hopetoun Horse Trials proved to be a successful event for Wills Oakden who landed three wins including the intermediate with Cooley Amigo, the OI with DHI By Design, and The Howden Way-supported 6-year-old class with Millfield Unimaginable.

Jacqui Dodd’s smart gelding by Untouchable and out of Millfield Tina, pulled off two super clear rounds to finish on his dressage score of 21.30 and top of the leader board in the 6-year-old class. He was a whopping 13.8 points clear of second placed Andrew Downes and Cooley Spring Time (35.10).

Wills was also third with Shaun Murray’s Chacoa gelding Cooley Carrera, who added a pole show jumping and 3.2-time penalties cross-country to his 32.5 dressage for a total of 39.7.

“We’ve had him from the start of this season and he’s a very mature six-year-old, both in his body and mind,” explained Wills of his winning ride. “He’s ready to do the age classes and be competitive. He’s an exceptional horse on the flat and a very good jumper. It was a target to go to that class and try and win it, and it worked out. He won by a huge margin.”

Of Hopetoun’s cross-country, Wills said: “It was brilliant for young horses and very educational. They do a fantastic job. The ground is always excellent and they didn’t disappoint.

“I like the young horse leagues, particularly the fact that you can rank your horse over the three phases, and it’s nice that owners can follow it and see how their horses are doing in their age category throughout a year. I also like that it’s a three-run average as it allows for those wild marks that pop up sometimes to be dropped. It means the cream will always rise to the top.”

His third-place ride, Cooley Carrera, has only on been with the yard a few months, and this was only his second run with Wills.

“He’s at the opposite end of the scale to the other horse in terms of his maturity, but we’re super excited about him,” said Wills. “That was his first ever novice and he ate it up and can only get better. He’s one for down the line.”

The Young Horse leagues are a great way to expose promising event horses to bigger atmospheres, while benchmarking them against others of the same age, while offering recognition for the highest performing horses in these classes.

Supported by The Howden Way, the top three in each class receive an additional £250, £150, £100 respectively on top of the prize money already generated and awarded by the prize money calculator.

The Young Horse classes take place throughout the spring and summer in some of BE’s most stunning venues, with the 6-year-old classes running at novice level, while the 7-year-old classes is run at intermediate level.

For dates of the young horse classes this year, please click here

Alongside these classes, the performance of young horses competing with British Eventing is acknowledged within The Howden Way Young Horse Leagues which can be found here. There are four leagues which cover the ages of 5 years, 6 years, 7 years and then the ages of 8 & 9 combined. The leagues display the average of a horse’s three best finishing scores via a Power Based Average score which highlights the ability to repeatedly finish on a low score.

The 2023 Young Horse Championships take place at Cornbury House Horse Trials in Oxfordshire between 7-10 September. The classes will also benefit those aiming their young horses at the FEI World Breeding Championships at Le Lion d’Angers, which hosts a CCI2*-L World Championship for six-year-olds and a CCI3*-L World Championship for seven-year-olds.

Image courtesy of Action Replay Photography Ltd

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