The second day of the British Championships was also the first day of the Event Rider Masters class at Gatcombe Park and a great day for Oliver Townend, who not only won the Intermediate Championship – his tenth championship title, but is also in the lead after dressage in the ERM class.
Riding the thirteen-year old gelding, Note Worthy, Oliver produced a beautifully relaxed and consistent dressage test. He was one of only two riders to secure a score in the 30s (38.7) which is 0.4 better than his dressage mark last year on Cillnabradden Evo, who went on to win the leg – and, subsequently, Oliver won the 2016 ERM series.
Oliver fired a warning shot to his ERM competitors this year: “I’m focusing on ERM now the European Championship selection is out of the way, and I’m hoping to deliver some big results again in the second half of the series”.
Australia’s Bill Levett and Shannondale Titan lie second with a dressage mark of 39.2, and Marcio Carvalho Jorge (BRZ) and Lissy Mac Wayer are third with 40.
Sir Mark Todd is a handy seventh on Kiltubrid Rhapsody with a score of 42.5. Tim Price and Xavier Faer are right in the mix too, with 43.3.
While there was heavy rain for many competitors in the Intermediate Championship cross-country, it stopped in time for Oliver to produce an inspired round on the 11-year-old flaxen-maned chestnut thoroughbred, Khoi Traveler, clocking up just 4.4 time penalties to rise from 33rd after dressage and finish less than a penalty ahead of the runner-up, Matt Heath on Sportsfield Lord Livesey.
“He was a racehorse, so if any horse was going to cope it was him, although actually the ground has held up superbly. Three days ago, I wasn’t going to bring him here because he came late to eventing and I thought his dressage was a little bit behind, so this is quite a surprise!” said Oliver.
Khoi Traveler (Straight Man – Lite Prospect) came to his attention when his previous rider, an American, brought the horse over from the States to his yard. “I loved him at the time and eventually we managed to do a deal,” Ollie explained.
This is Oliver’s fourth victory in the Intermediate championship: he also won in 2007, 2008 and 2015.
Only three riders finished with time penalties in single figures around Mark Phillips’s exciting track. Tom McEwen, who is based in the yard at Gatcombe, was third with 7.4 on Royal Roxy, and speedy Irish rider Elizabeth Power was fifth and best-placed female competitor with 6.0 time penalties on Mind Me.
Dan Jocelyn was the best of the New Zealanders, finishing sixth on Blackthorn Cruise. The pair were 18th after dressage, moved up after show jumping with one of the few clear rounds, and added 14.4 cross-country time penalties to finish on a final score of 46.7.
James Avery and Zazu, who were the leaders after dressage, added six show jumping penalties and another 22 time penalties on cross-country. Their final score of 55.5 left them in 16th place.
Tim Price and Kindred Spirit IV finished 33rd after 16 show jumping faults and 23.6 time penalties across country.
Francis Whittington and Carlchen have the lead after dressage on a score of 26.5 but are followed closely by Shane Rose on Virgil II with 27.9. Shane is riding his injured friend San Griffith’s horse Happy Times, and Sam will be well pleased with the pair’s score of 28 for third place. Oliver Townend is right there too with Ballaghmor Class on a score of 28.8.
Blyth Tait is the only Kiwi in the field and is 30th on Leo Distinction with a score of 40.5.
Ben Hobday led the prestigious British Novice Championship from start to finish on Jane Chambers’ and his own rising star Shadow Man II, claiming his first national title.
A dressage score of 27.3 left the pair at the head of the pack from the outset. They maintained this position throughout with a perfect clear in the show jumping followed by an economical trip across country for just 6.8 time penalties.
The chestnut son of Fidjy Of Colours was sourced in Belgium as a two-year-old for Ben’s business, Shadow Horses, which specialises in finding and producing top quality eventers.
“He’s everything you want in an event horse — athletic, intelligent and exceptionally kind,” says Ben. “He was nearly sold twice as a four-year-old — once to America — but luckily for me neither sale happened and Jane offered to step in [Ben retains a half share]. At nearly 17hh he’s a big horse, but he’s incredibly light on his feet. This was his tenth win in 23 starts.”
William Fox-Pitt, so often a winner of this class, had to settle for second with Catherine Witt’s classy-looking The Graduate.
Hayden Hankey and You’ve Got The Lux posted the fastest round of the section for 3.6 time penalties and eventual third.
Dan Jocelyn and Fjury had a show jumping rail and 13.2 time faults on cross-country to finish on a score of 50.3 in 20th place. James Avery was 26th on Vitali with 54.1, after adding nine show jumping penalties and 11.6 time penalties across country to their dressage score.
There were no cross-country rounds within the time.