This years Festival of Eventing at Gatcombe Park from 7th to 9th August promises to be the best yet with the majority of riders currently ranked in the top ten of British Eventings Goldman Cup League entered for the event.
New Zealander Andrew Nicholson will return to defend his British Eventing Open Championship crown. Andrew, who will be pursuing a fourth British Eventing Open Championship title, has five horses entered, including last year’s winner, Mark and Rosemary Barlow’s Burghley and Barbury victor, Avebury, and Deborah Sellars’ 2011 British Eventing Open Championship winner, Nereo.
The New Zealand challenge will be bolstered by Andrew’s Kiwi compatriots, Sir Mark Todd, (NZB Campino), and the on-form Jonelle Price, who will ride the nippy little mare Classic Moet, with whom she finished fourth at last year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG). The 2013 British Open Champions, Jock Paget and Clifton Lush, are entered again and will be looking to add to their laurels.
Seven of the 12 riders selected for the British squad at the upcoming Longines FEI European Eventing Championship at Blair Castle in September have rides in the British Eventing Open Championship, including Izzy Taylor, who will ride her reserve horse, KBIS Briarlands Matilda, and Pippa Funnell, who has Mirage D’Elle and Second Supreme entered.
The popular combination of Nicola Wilson and the coloured mare Beltane Queen are sure to get a rousing reception, while British squad debutants Francis Whittington, who rides Fernhill Highlight and Gemma Tattersall on Arctic Soul, will also be looking to put in a solid performance.
Australia has a strong hand with former Badminton Horse Trials winners Sam Griffiths (Paulank Brockagh and Happy Times) and Paul Tapner (Kilronan and Vanir Kamira) lining up.
Competition in the Smith & Williamson British Intermediate Championship will be no less intense and reigning champion William Fox-Pitt will be bidding for a hat trick following wins in 2013 and 2014 with Fernhill Pimms and Luxury FH, who both contest the British Eventing Open Championship this time.
His hopes will rest in this year’s Intermediate Championship with the 10-year-old Ramdam De Mons, the winner of Tattersalls CCI2* earlier in the year. Olympic team member and two-time winner of this title, Kristina Cook, will have high hopes for Billy The Red and DHI Zancorgino, while Laura Collett will be aiming for a good performance from her two seven-year-olds, Mr Bass and Cooley Again.
The Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship, now in its 13th year, is firmly established as a pointer towards future fame and there will be no-one keener to defend his territory than Oliver Townend, who has won this title on three different occasions. This year he has Ridire Dorcha and Sonic De Sermentol lining up.
This year also sees the inaugural running of The TopSpec Challenge for The Corinthian Cup, a new National Restricted Novice Championship, which will see a line-up of true amateurs contesting.
The Corinthian Cup, in appreciation of Richard Meade OBE, who was Britain’s most successful equestrian Olympian, is kindly donated by Desi Dillingham MBE in memory of her aunt, Barbara Kemp. Barbara designed and built the 1976 Summer Olympic three-day-event cross country course in Bromont, Quebec. She was the first woman in the history of the Olympics to design a course for the Games.
Stoke-on-Trent-based Catherine Taylor (Lorelei), who finished third in this year’s BE100 Badminton Grassroots Championship, veterinary nurse Louise Hinckley (Interlude II) and BHS instructor Clare Bradshaw (Albert VIII) are among those hoping to add their name to The Festival of British Eventing’s prestigious roll of honour.
Aside from The Festival Championship action, visitors can watch equine and human stars of the future including The Pony Club Inter Branch Team Show Jumping and this year’s arena attractions, which include the prolific Australian stunt rider The Kangaroo Kid, dressage to music display and the ever-popular Shetland Pony Grand National.
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