Saturday started early at Gatcombe, with advanced show-jumping under a light drizzle. The course, in the main arena, was quite tricky, it's Gatcombe so it's not completely flat, and had a few switchbacks, a double to a related distance oxer slightly downhill across the diagonal, and the dreaded planks, which were re-positioned as the last fence in the Novice Championship later in the day, and quickly became the bogey fence.
Particularly good rounds in the advanced included dressage leader William Fox-Pitt on Seacookie, and Cool Mountain, both clear but only Seacookie went on to run x-country as Cool Mountain is being saved for the WEG. Seacookie also went clear x-country, and held the lead in Advanced Section A almost until the end of the day, when Dan Jocelyn stormed round on the experienced Special Advocate to pip him into second place.
Andrew Nicholson must surely win the prize for riding most horses, and the long hack from the arena to the lorry park/temporary stabling must have caused timing problems, because at least once, he swapped horses with his groom, having met her half way along the path.
Once cross-country started at 10:30, so did the rain in earnest. There didn't seem to be a particular bogey fence, but the steps up at 8 needed seriously forward riding with many riders turning the corner, setting up and then practically galloping at it.
Both waters were fairly straightforward with a single jump in, but both required bold riding.
|Dan Jocelyn - Advanced Winner|
As nice as it was to watch the "old pro's" going round - Ruth Edge, William F-P etc, it was encouraging to see some of the younger riders confirming their promise, and putting in some beautiful rides on new horses. I was especially impressed by Harry Meade on Wild Lone, Angus Smales on all three of his advanced rides, and Izzy Taylor. It was nice to see Aaron Miller back out on Stormstay going well, and Louise Skelton on her old campaigner Bit of a Barney, going like the blazes to take Advanced Section B. I also never realised how tiny Louise is until today, she is definitely diminutive but they ate up the cross country and looked larger than life storming round.
Although there were heavy downpours throughout the day, the going held up quite well, with some horses slipping a bit on the turns, and a little cutting up on take-offs and landings.
The Intermediate and Open Championship dressage continued all day saturday. I was unlucky to miss Mary King's first two tests on Imperial Cavalier and King's Temptress who moved into 1st and 2nd places respectively in the Open, but caught up with her briefly afterwards. Mary fully intends to run cross country on all three of her rides in the Open (Apache Sauce currently sits in 11th place) and was thrilled with both of her first two rides, especially her homebred mare who she said felt faultless today and tried her heart out. Mary is one of the most gracious and generous riders on the circuit, and is looking forward to representing Britain at the WEG next month, and is such a terrific ambassador for the sport.
During one of the heavier downpours we all huddled under a tent for shelter where we were lucky enough to chance upon the volunteer expert commentary of Sue Stewart, who gave us all her opinion on each test, talking us through the tests in layman's terms, and everyone there enjoyed it tremendously. Sue has been doing this for going on seven years now and has become a stalwart of the British Open dressage.
How nice to see another solid test from the extraordinary Opposition Buzz to leave them in 10th, Nicola's hard work is obviously paying off. Paul Tapner's 9th place on Kilfinnie means he has 3 horses in the top ten heading into the jumping phases sunday. Daisy Berkeley has her consistent Spring Along sitting in 8th and would love to do well here to prove a point to the selectors.
For full result of all the sections, please visit the Gatcombe homepage.
Once again, sunday will mean an early start with the intermediate championship show-jumping getting under way at 8:45am, but before I sign off, a HUGE thank you to all the volunteers, every day, but especially today when they had to cope with all sorts of weather. Without them, the show would not go, so Thank-You. Looking forward to lots more action tomorrow,