Belton Park International

This past weekend we made the long trip up to Grantham in Lincolnshire for Belton International. I was riding Isobel Crosbie’s THE DIAMOND GAMBLER (Brian) and MOYLAW BADGER (Milo) in the Novice and the CIC** and Rebecca Salt and Caroline Harris’ BAYANO (Barney) in the CIC*** Grantham Cup.

Brian was competing on the Friday and having not been out since his first run of the year at the beginning of March at Tweseldown; the challenging track at Belton was certainly going to be a big ask. He was much improved on the flat to score a solid 31 – then jumped a super round show jumping just breathing on the very last fence for 4 faults. He gave me an absolutely incredible ride round the cross-country, taking on all the more technical questions with such a genuine and positive attitude. I didn’t push him to far time wise so he picked up 10 time and finished in a very pleasing 9th place in a large and competitive section. ┬áLater on Friday afternoon Barney had his dressage in the CIC***. I had a very good working in, and he felt excellent in his brain and balance. He really rose to the test in the arena but kept a lid on it and tried really hard. I had quite a few small and “rung rusty” mistakes, especially in my halts but I was pleased with his mark of 29.2 to lie in 5th place over night. The new FEI dressage scoring system of removing the co-efficient has made all the dressage marking much closer together so we were well up there in a competition position.

On Saturday it was an easy day for Barney and Brian with just Milo running in the CIC**. As ever Milo was ultra consistent on the flat, not mega flashy but nevertheless doing his very best and scoring a solid 33. He then followed this up with a fabulous double clear exactly on the optimum time to finish in 9th place in another huge section. Whilst not being the scopiest or most athletic horse Milo never fails to try his hardest and we are in awe of his courageous attitude. Such a cracking start to his season and even better that Isobel his dedicated owner and biggest fan was there to watch him and witness his success.

Sunday was Barney’s day for the jumping phases of the Grantham cup CIC***. After another full day of dressage he was now lung in 10th place with all to play for. Having had Barney’s entry accepted to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials CCI**** his run at Belton was his final preparation before the big event. We have been focussing on developing his fitness so Barney was absolutely full of beans and feeling incredible working in for the showjumping. He jumped the most beautiful clear round, feeling exceptionally positive and giving me an incredible feel. The XC walked very positive and I was hopeful of a good ride but as the day progressed it became clear that the time was impossible to achieve and it was certainly causing a lot more trouble than anyone had anticipated. Barney and I set off very positively as we were in a competitive position and he didn’t disappoint giving me a great ride and making nothing of the tricky combinations. We finished with 6 time faults, one of the fastest times of the day and finished in 4th place over all. With well over 100 horses in the section we were all absolutely delighted with such a good result and the icing on the cake was that Barney and I also won the Polly Phillips Memorial Trophy and Grant for the highest placed uncapped British Team Rider. This is the most generous grant and beautiful silver cup given in memory of the late 4star rider Polly Phillips by her husband Vere and the Polly Phillips Foundation.

Overall a fantastic weekend and one of my favourite events. BEDE worked incredibly hard on the ground which really was exceptional given the horrendous weather we have all had. Massive thank you to both Charlotte and Dani who looked after the horses beautifully both at the event and at home; to Jeremy, Andrew Fletcher and Richard Waygood for their wonderful help in the lead up to the event and everyone who helps to keep the show on the road. I am incredible lucky to ride wonderful horses owned by great friends and supporters who make the successes like these possible.

Milo and Brian will both now head to Withington Manor whilst Badminton is Barney’s next focus! Exciting times ahead!