Tatts kicks off with an inspiring test rider and two Kiwis leading

330 horses and riders from nine countries competing over six days plus an international line up of officials, add in lots of parties, trade stands, hound parades, children's playgrounds and you have a great Irish craic.

NZL-Jonathan Paget (ZAZU) CCI1* FIRST HORSE INSPECTION: 2016 IRL-Tattersalls International Horse Trial (Tuesday 31 May) CREDIT: Libby Law COPYRIGHT: LIBBY LAW PHOTOGRAPHY
Jock Paget and Zazu trot up for the CCI1* (Image: Libby Law)

Tattersalls International Horse Trials is one very busy event with 330 ponies and horses from nine different countries competing over six days. It is an exciting event for the pony and junior riders, who get the chance to ride at the same competition as their heroes –  like William Fox-Pitt – and Irish legends such as Joseph Murphy.

Hannah Francis, the amazing young British teenager currently battling bone cancer, was the Tattersalls test rider on her beloved horse Mavis, which meant she achieved one of her dreams of riding at an international event. She was given a rousing show of Irish appreciation at the conclusion of her test, causing Mavis to shy, but Hannah sat beautifully (see video below).

Hannah has started a charity called Willberry Wonder Pony, based on a toy pony given to her as she underwent treatment. UK rider Ben Hobday, who has recently had cancer treatment himself, took Willberry around Badminton, with the toy secured under his back number, peeping out over his shoulder. It proved a great good luck token for him as he had an excellent clear round! For the Tattersalls event, there are new Irish additions to the fundraising team in the form of Tattsbury ponies: the toy ponies were auctioned off, raising 6,720 euro, and will be riding around each of the eight cross-country courses. Fundraising will continue throughout the event and Hannah is also going to do the “guinea pig” test in the CCI2* under 24 class. She really is the most inspiring young woman, and is so brave, riding while so sick. You can read more about Hannah’s moving story on this link. 

The Land Rover CCI1* competition is just over halfway through dressage, and Jock Paget on Zazu is currently the leader on 40.30. James Avery on Cadillac is in 8th place on 46. Both Jock and James have another horse to ride in the dressage along with Dan Jocelyn and Tim Price.

In the Cooley Farm CCI Young Horse 1* (for six- and seven-year-olds), Jonelle Price leads the way on Obos Impressive on a score of 34.9, from William Fox-Pitt on 35.6. Alice Montgomery is 14th with Ececheira on a score of 45.1. Daniel Jocelyn, scoring 53.6, is back in 31st on Southfork. Tim has Kincooley Cruising in this and they still have to complete their test.

Jenny Draper is one of the judges for this competition as well as for the Tredstep Ireland CCI Junior 1*. That class is led by Sam Micklem. Andrew Bennie is judging the 3* competitions.

There’s more dressage on Thursday (Irish time), with cross-country for the ponies and 1* classes on Friday. On Saturday there’s both show jumping and cross-country with the same again on Sunday. Getting that team of fence judges organised is no mean feat, but they do put on a very good breakfast followed by a meal and entertainment in the evening for the small army of volunteers, so everyone has a great “craic.”

Zara Tindall is competing a number of horses at Tatts, including the New Zealand thoroughbred Watkins in the CCI3*. The ex-racehorse was produced by Heelan Tompkins.

The two- and three-star classes have all completed the first horse inspection, and you can check out our comprehensive gallery below. There are no New Zealand contestants in the CCI3*, but Tim Price (Ringwood Skyboy) and Tim Rusbridge (Oneforthenotebook) as well as Jock Paget on Angus Blue are in the CIC3* and go cross country on Sunday.  A few Kiwis have elected to compete at the Little Downham competition back in UK, including Lucy Jackson, Caroline Powell, Blyth Tait and Andrew Nicholson.

You can follow the action at Tattersalls via free livestream. Click on this link.