Good news from William Fox-Pitt who has announced he is hoping to return to competition shortly. His website says: “It is all systems go here and everything is on target. The horses are well, and I am hoping to be out competing at Burnham Market soon. I have been checked by the specialist and have been cleared to compete. [British team trainer] Yogi came down this week and we jumped four horses together and it very much feels like all systems go. A big thank you to everyone who has supported me through my recovery. I am looking forward to working with Chilli Morning and the rest of the horses and getting going with the season.”
Aldon horse trials in the weekend was the first appearance of the season for many New Zealand eventers based in the UK. Apparently it was bitterly cold, but at least it wasn’t raining! Andrew Nicholson made a welcome and successful return to eventing after his serious injury, with a win and exemplary cross-country jumping on his team of six. In a subsequent interview with Newstalk ZB, he said he was on track for Badminton, so that’s good news.
Andrew had three in the Open Novice classes. On Ghost Story he finished 13th, he was ninth on Yakabo BK and 18th on Zacarius, all with clear jumping cross-country but time faults. On Perfect Stranger he won the Open Intermediate against a star-studded field. The pair led after dressage, on a score of 24.8 and added 8.8 cross-country time faults to win. He also rode Jet Set in that class, finishing 18th, after notching up 16 time faults.
Also in the field were Jonelle Price on Classic Moet (fifth), Sir Mark Todd on Obos Colombos (ninth), and Tim Price on Obos Cooley (14th). Jock Paget had three in the class with his highest placing being on Allora 3 who was in second after dressage on 25.9 but 22.4 time faults dropped him to 16th. Clifton Promise was out having a run, with a 29.6 dressage, adding four for a show jumping rail and a bunch of time faults to finish well down the field in 28th. Clifton Signature had a 28.6 dressage with two down show jumping and 26 time faults. Jock fans need not be concerned at these scores, as Jock has often come out with a very quiet first start for his stars early in the season. We expect he will go faster at Badminton.
Tim Price had a quinella in the International Novice CIC, winning on Kincooley Cruising, and coming second on Pats Jester. He backed that up with a seventh in the same class on Koh I Noor!
In another OI class, Jonelle finished second on Cloud Dancer after recording an impressive 20.2 in the dressage, adding a few time faults and a show jumping rail. Also in that class but out of the money were Sir Mark on NZB Land Vision, Andrew on Swallow Springs, and Jock on Clifton Lush and Angus Blue.
Cam Robertson, who works for Jock, had his mare Black Ink in the Under-21 Open Intermediate, finishing 18th after a slow but clear cross-country and clear show jumping.
Another interesting competitor at Aldon was Thomas Hawke on Mr Cruise Control, who was previously a successful four-star eventer with Andrew Nicholson. The new(ish) combination came second in the Open Novice.
You can see some of the Aldon cross-country action on a great video on this link.
The weekend ahead is a busy one in the UK for our New Zealand riders. Blyth Tait is heading to Burgham, with Xanthus in the CIC3* and Darius and Dasset Courage in the CIC2*. Lucy Jackson has Bosun in the three-star. Others are Gatcombe-bound for the ODE there, including Neil Spratt, Annabel Wigley, James Avery, Lizzie Brown, Dan Jocelyn, Jonelle and Tim Price, Hollie Swain, Tim Rusbridge, Sir Mark Todd and Jock Paget. Jesse Campbell, Andrew Nicholson and Hannah Norvill are going to Great Witchingham.