In a nail-biting finish filled with gasps and thrills, Oliver Townend of Great Britain did the seemingly impossible: he beat Germany’s three-time defending champion Michael Jung at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.
Standing in third overnight, Townend jumped a gorgeous fault-free show jumping round aboard Cooley Master Class, finishing on his dressage score of 28.7 penalties and setting up the showdown with overnight leader Jung on Fischerrocana FST. When the German pair dropped a rail at fence 5, the victory was Townend’s. Jung would finish second (31.5).
“Obviously it’s a fantastic feeling, I had to do a bit of arm-twisting to get the horses here as there was no funding from Britain to come here this year. The owners gambled on me to win their money back, and I’m pleased the horses have come through with great results and that I’ve repaid the owners’ gamble on me.”
The morning started with a dramatic turn when Fischerrocana was sent to the holding box during the final horse inspection, as was second-placed Christopher Burton of Australia with Nobilis 18. As the crowd held their breath, the ground jury accepted both horses upon re-presentation.
Early on in the show jumping, rails fell, but it was also clear course designer Richard Jeffrey had measured the course tightly, and even horses who were jumping clean were having multiple time penalties.
The first to post a double-clear round was Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Boarder (21st/55.9) and the crowd roared their approval. As the top horses came in one by one, the tension ratcheted up. In the end, only seven would complete the show jumping with no jumping or time penalties, and those that could climbed up the order.
Townend had come into the show jumping with Cooley Master Class in third and MHS King Joules tied for fourth. He went early on King Joules and lowered a rail, so he cantered in aboard Master Class, all business. The bay gelding jumped his heart out, putting pressure on Burton and Jung.
Burton would lower two rails, and the crowd grow grew silent as Jung, the Land Rover Kentucky winners for the last three years, cantered in. At fence 5, the 13-year-old German-bred mare stood off the triple bar and just tipped the front rail.
“I’m very happy about Rocana, a little more sad about me,” said a circumspect Jung, 35, Horb, Germany. “It was my mistake, I was too far away from this fence. My mare tried hard, and it was a good round, only one down, but it was one down too much. But it was a very nice week here in Kentucky. I really like this event, it’s beautiful and I’m happy to be here.”
When Jung faulted, Townend covered his face with his hands in disbelief before dissolving into tears.
Ultimately, three others besides Townend would finish on their dressage scores: Phillip Dutton/Z (33.7/4th), Sharon White/Cooley On Show (35.6/7th) and Will Coleman/Tight Lines (38.3/12th).
Townend has had Cooley Master Class since he was a 4-year-old and says he has always been a barn favorite.
“He came right at the end of a period where I had sold a lot of my good horses to set my life up and buy a property,” he said. “ He came right at the right time, and when I sat on him, I said ‘one way or another we’re finding a way to keep this one.
“I was lucky to sell to him to someone who let me keep the ride, and he’s never really let us down,” he continued. “He had a couple of niggles injury-wise, at certain stages in his career. At times we thought, ‘Will he ever come through with what he can really do?’ But these last two seasons he toughened up, and we learned more about him and how to manage him. He’s always been cheeky and talented and I’m very pleased for him to come through with it.”
Townend also finished seventh on King Joules. “(With) Joules, I’m just thrilled, really pleased. If you’d wanted me to sign a piece of paper saying I’d have one down before the round, I’d have happily signed for that. He is the most difficult horse I’ve ever ridden and also the most talented. For him to put up the performance this week he did, I’m just as happy as I am with the winner.”
The winner takes home a check for $130,000, and for his seventh-placed finish Townend adds an additional $14,000, making it a profitable weekend for his team. MHS King Joules and Cooley Master Class are both 13-year-old Irish Sport Horses.
For his victory, Townend will also receive a one-year lease on a Land Rover Discovery, and he got to take a victory lap in the car. He zoomed around the ring to the roar of the crowd. When asked how fast he was going, he replied with a dry laugh, “I don’t know, the man in the passenger seat was screaming too loud.”
Townend has a reason to be happier than most with his win, as this victory is his second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. A hefty cash prize of $350,000 goes to the winner of Mitsubishi Motors Badminton, Land Rover Burghley and Land Rover Kentucky. Townend won Burghley last September aboard Ballaghmor Class, who is entered at Badminton next week, along with Cooley SRS. If he wins there, he will only be the third person in history to take the Grand Slam. Previous winners were Jung in 2016 and Pippa Funnel in 2003.
“I’m very fortunate to have two nice horses also belonging to (Cooley Master Class’ owner Angela Hislop), and we’re living in dream world,” Townend said. “She came up to me about six years ago and said if she was going to own horses for me she wanted a four-star winner and a British team horse, and now we’ve had both. So, we’re both living in dream world, and hopefully it will continue for another week–please.”
With under two weeks to go we're looking forward to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2018 getting under way. Below is the the drawn order of this year's riders and horses for the International cross country phase of the event.
The event takes place from Wednesday 2rd May through to Sunday 6th May 2018. Wednesday is the first day of the event - the International competition kicks off with the horse inspection in the afternoon and continues with Dressage on the Thursday and Friday before the thrills and spills of the Cross Country phase on the Saturday. Sunday is the culmination of the competition and is a Show Jumping test over knock down arena jumps.
Drawn Order for the Cross Country
93. Tom McEwen (GBR) riding Strike Smartly
The maximum starting field will actually be 85. There are horses that are still on the wait - list, and others such as the mounts of Oliver Townend and Kristina Cook to be decided... they have 4 and 3 horses entered respectively, but they can only ride a maximum of two.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) have announced Captain Mark Phillips as a new inductee who will join the 40 other members of the USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame in 2018.
He will be formally inducted during the Hall of Fame Gala at the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting and Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, in December.
Captain Mark Phillips was born on September 22, 1948, in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England. Phillips attended Sandhurst Royal Military Academy and after graduation he entered the military, joining The Royal Dragoon Guards. While rising in the ranks from Lieutenant to Captain, Phillips was named a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, in recognition of his service to the monarch of the British Royal Family, and a Personal Aide-de-Camp to the Queen, which allowed him to represent the ruling monarch and her viceroys.
Mark Phillips riding Maid Marion at Ledyard in 1973. Rick Foltz Photo.
Here's a great offer for eventing lovers...
DON'T MISS OUT!
20% off tickets for ERM Leg 4 at St. James's Place Barbury Horse Trials ends at midnight on Sunday 8th April 2018.
Set in a beautiful, natural amphitheatre on the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire, St. James's Place Barbury is one of Britain's most spectacular equestrian events and features the world's very best horses and riders.
This year's horse trials look set to be bigger and better the ever before! Here's what you've got to look forward to:
• Leg 4 of the 2018 Event Rider Masters Series - last year won by Thomas Carlisle and Upsilon with Badminton Winners Andrew Nicholson and Nereo taking second spot.
• World-class sporting action
• Two days of cross-country (Saturday, 7 July & Sunday, 8 July)
• VIP Hospitality
• Shetland Pony Grand National
• Dog agility - bring your dog and have a go!
• Inter-hunt relay and Pony Club show jumping
• Arena attractions
• NEW Kidzone and children's entertainment
• Fantastic shopping opportunities
• Delicious and varied food stalls
• Free entrance for children under 12
What's not to like? - A fab family day out too.
Sir Mark Todd has announced on social media that he has had to say goodbye to 2011 Badminton winner Land Vision.
Land Vision had a colic operation a couple of weeks ago, but after an initial period of successful recovery, complications set in last Saturday.
"Very sadly had to say goodbye to this wonderful horse. Land Vision (Ben) was undoubtably one of the most talented horses I ever rode and to win Badminton for us at his first 4* as a 10 year old was amazing. Due to soundness issues we never got to see just how good he could have been. He has been a fantastic hack for Carolyn (Mark's wife) in his retirement.
"Huge thanks to Sir Peter Vela and NZ Bloodstock for giving me the opportunity to ride him and to all the girls over the years who have been his devoted carers. He was loved by everyone who had anything to do with him. A true gentleman!"
It is no wonder that Sir Mark regards 'Ben' as a super star. It was with him that he acheived an amazing comeback.
After eight years in retirement, training racehorses in New Zealand - (The legendary rider had set his sights on the 2012 Olympic Games...) he and Land Vision won the Badminton trophy three years later in 2011- his fourth victory, more than 30 years after his first.
The win put him firmly back into the Kiwi team reckoning for the Olympic games the following year. He did indeed collect a team bronze medal although sadly without Land Vision whose fragile legs prevented him competing.
Many of you will be aware that British Eventing have, in the last few days, changed their rules regarding competitors who fall at an event. These changes have been made in light of ongoing research with regards to concussion and they bring BE in line with the FEI rules which have been in place for the last ten years.
Previously if you toppled off in any phase of your event you could get back on and continue the rest of your day, as long as you were unhurt. With this new rule if you fall that will be the end of your event on that horse, as all riders who fall will be eliminated. The important caveats to this are that if you fall in the warm up you can still compete or if you have more than one horse you will still be able to ride your subsequent horses, provided you get the green light from the event doctor.
If you have been lucky enough to have never suffered a fall at an event an important point to remember is that it is your responsibility to ensure that you are seen by the doctor before heading home. As an event doctor myself I can tell you that hunting for riders in a lorry park is a total nightmare, especially once you take your number bibs off!
I know that some riders are frustrated by these new rules but they stem from recent developments in guidance on managing concussion, and although it often appears mild, concussion is a serious business. We are now much more aware of the risks and long term effects of concussion and although you might think you’ve just bumped your head if not treated properly if can have long term effects on your cognitive functioning. Take the advice of medical staff seriously after even a mild concussion and of course reduce your risk as much as possible by never getting on a horse without a helmet. Ensuring no further head injuries occur, staying well rested, and giving your brain some “off” time (i.e no phones or TV) are ways of helping concussion to recover and avoid more serious long term effects.
Your brain is fragile, protect it and protect yourself.
As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog
Every action has a reaction - More straight talking from Phoebe Buckley.
Hey guys, so I’m back…. You know the drill… Time to go make a cup of tea and get comfy, this blog is a long one!!! Also might be worth putting a seat belt on, as this could well be an explosive and uncomfortable read… For some...
So, as you all know my blogs are written (usually badly) about things I experience, that I think you lot can relate to. The one thing that has changed the most in my life in recent years is the amount of horses I ride and compete. Not so long ago I would of come under the ‘professional rider banner’ - not anyone. Now I ride and compete just one horse. Do I mind? Not one bit... But, it is a new experience that I’m just getting used to - if I cock up, I don’t get another go at getting it right. Last week I went SJ’ing, and to be brutally honest I rode badly… Nothing went right and I drove back to the yard feeling very deflated. I really wasn’t sure if I could be a ‘one horse rider’. That evening I went to the pub with a couple of friends and had a brilliant night, and you know what? My mood lifted, because nothing lasts forever. I left the pub feeling like a idiot for being so hard on myself - I’m human… I get to mess up now and again but there is always another day because nothing, good or bad lasts forever.
The next day I heard the dreadful news that a young trainer had taken his life. It made my ‘wallowing in self pity because I rode badly’ episode the previous day seem very very petty. By all accounts this young man was a top class bloke, with a loving family and a successful and busy business. What really hit a cord with me was reading his wife’s statement. The brutally honest words of a woman who had lost her soul mate, husband, best friend and father of her child to mental illness. Because I’ve been there, and if we are all honest I’m sure many of us have been in a situation where ‘me not being here’ has, even if only for a split second looked a easier way out. Sadly some of us aren’t able to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, because nothing lasts forever and that’s the point. No matter how bad things are, there will always be a light. That light might be one person that loves you, a horse that excites you or even a pet that needs you to look after them. As someone who has experienced the darkest of times, I promise there is always light... The easiest way to find it is to TALK. Alone is a very dark place and very few of us actually are, we just choose to be. Choose to be light, TALK to someone and be someone people can talk to. You never know, you might just change a life.
Whilst all that very sad news was filtering though, a totally non related video went viral on social media. It was a video of a girl riding a dressage test. A video I’d like to add that hadn’t been shared (from what I could tell) by her. I was and still am astonished at the comments made on the video. - Talk about ripping this poor girl apart, limb by limb! Now, I’m not saying this girl was a Carl Hester in the making and yes, it was slightly uncomfortable viewing. But what shocked me was the fact that in one breath people were saying more needs to be done to help people with depression and in the very next breath they were ripping in to this person who they had never me and had no idea or context as to how the video came about... My first thoughts when I saw the video were these – 1. Why didn’t the judge stop her? I hope someone helps her improve and understand what is and isn’t acceptable, and, 2. The fact that the horse looked well, looked after in great condition and that he looked more annoyed at her than scared. Again I’m not excusing what she was doing but to be honest- she looked very ineffective to me.
"People in glass houses shouldn’t throw house bricks and be mindful because one day someone may just unload a video of you not at your best, for the grace of God, go I."
Now, what I found even more astonishing was the amount of professional riders having their pound of flesh off this girl. I wanted to ask them how they would feel if someone videoed them having a ‘off’ day or ‘squaring’ a horse up and posted it on social media for everyone to put their pennies worth in.
Show me any rider, especially a professional one, that tells you they haven’t been tough on a horse, lost their temper or gone too far with a horse and later regretted it and I’ll show you a liar.
I wonder how many takers I would get if I invited everyone that commented mean things on that video to come mid week jumping with me? I promise you that we would witness some horses being ridden in an over bent outline, with drawreins on, being pulled around and being jabbed with spurs. Then I'd want them to go say the same kind of things they wrote but to the riders in person… Wonder how many would?
Have I ever had to be tough on a horse? Yes. Have I regretted it?.. In some cases, yes, in some, no – because in most cases it was the making of the horse. Brutal but true. Us professional riders and I’m sure a lot of amateur riders are fully aware of the riders that are tougher on their horses, why don’t we all go posting on their social media telling them how crap they are????? Or better still go up to them in person… You know why we don’t? Because it has nothing to do with us and trolls pick their victims, usually from behind a computer screen. Brutal but true.
My final point – Imagine if the rider in that video took her life over the public humiliation she has been put though? If you commented on that video, imagine if it was YOUR comment that pushed her over the edge. Would if be worth it? Worth you putting your 5p’s of unwanted and unhelpful criticism in for?
So remember – every action has a reaction. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw house bricks and be mindful because one day someone may just unload a video of you not at your best, for the grace of God, go I.
Over and out..
Re-published with kind permission from Phoebe Buckley|Blog
Camilla Speirs has announced the retirement of the wonderful Irish Sport Horse Portersize Just A Jiff. He will be joining the Eventing Demo Tour on the 2nd-4th of February, to give his fans a chance to say farewell. Jif will appear at every venue (Maryville Stables, Cork on the 2nd, Spruce Lodge Wicklow on the 3rd and Portmore Equestrian Centre, Armagh on the 4th of February). His appearance on the tour will support the fundraiser for the High-Performance Eventing athletes on their way to the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, held later on this year.
Speaking about the news, Camilla had this to say about her amazing experiences with Jif:
“For 14 years I have had the privilege of working with a true legend. Taking me from Pony Club to Olympic Games, Jif and I have shared such a special partnership. Like in all sports, there have been ups and downs, but our journey has been simply incredible! We have travelled the world together and took on the biggest tracks in the sport. I owe him so much and appreciate all that he has done for me. At 18 years of age, he is still looking and feeling amazing and that is why we have decided to retire him this year as it is certainly what he deserves. We have chosen to announce his official retirement as part of the Eventing Demo Tour so that all his fans will have the opportunity to see my incredible star and cherish his amazing career.”
Standing at only 15.2, the 18-year-old bay IrishSport Horse gelding (Crosskeys Rebel X Mizen Talent) is said to be a “pint-sized” wonder horse, and he has lived up to that title. Speirs and Jif started their International career together in 2006, competing at CCI1* Junior level in Ballindenisk taking home a 6th place followed by a win at the same level at Tattersalls just two months later. In the same year, they competed at their first European Junior Eventing Championships in Necarne, followed by their second European Junior appearance together in Avenches in 2007. In the same year, Speirs and Jif also competed at the WBFSH World Breeding Championships for Young Horses and the European Young Riders Eventing Championships in 2008 & 2009. As they continued to move up through the ranks, completing CCI3* & CCI4* events around the world, they encountered some of the toughest courses including the famous Badminton Horse Trials on 5 occasions, 4 Nations Cup appearances, 2 World Equestrian Games (Kentucky 2010 & Caen 2014) and the London Olympics in 2012. The pair have accomplished 20 Top 10 International finishes and their best International CCI4* result together was in Pau, 2016 where the pair finished in 6th place.
Ronan Murphy, CEO of Horse Sport Ireland commented on the announcement:
Sad news. Event rider, Izzy Taylor has announced the loss of her 4* ride, Trevidden. He was PTS shortly before Christmas having undergone emergency surgery eight weeks after competing at Burghley - his first 4* event.
Izzy took over the reins as Trividden's rider less than a year ago and was a horse she rated highly.
“He was just my type of horse and we bonded quickly. In 2017 he surpassed my expectations with wins at Bramham CIC3* and Camphire CIC3* and then ninth at Burghley.
“I feel desperately sorry for his owner, Dr Patricia Turner, who has lost an incredible horse. RIP, my friend.”
The first woman to win the Badminton Horse Trials, Margaret Hough has died, aged 86. Margaret won the title in 1954 with her mare Bambi V.
She died of pneumonia and had lung problems since her childhood. - In fact horseriding had been suggested as a relief to bronchitis by her doctor when she was a girl. Hough was hooked! She remained passionate about horses and equestrianism all her life, continuing to ride until just a few years ago.
Margaret Hough made history in 1954 when she won the Badminton competition.
“It was ground-breaking for a woman to win it,” Peter Gleave
“One or two of the men at the time looked down at women having a go and doing well..."
Bambi was also the second of only three mares to triumph at Badminton. The Irish bred Bambi then continued under Bertie Hill and won team gold at the European Championships in 1953 also at Badminton.
After retirement, Bambi returned to Margaret who bred from her. One of her offspring, Gemsbok, was on the shortlist for the Junior European Championships with Margaret's son, Peter Gleave.