Festival Highlights
 
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Whittington Gatcombe 14 04 Aug 14

Festival Highlights

Andrew Nicholson (NZL) had his pedal to the metal as he cruised to his third victory in the British Eventing Open Championship CIC3* at The Festival of British Eventing, presented by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) at Gatcombe Park.

Andrew partnered Mark and Rosemary Barlow's Avebury, the British-bred grey who had carried him to victory in the CIC3* at Barbury exactly one month ago. They finished just one second over the optimum time here, adding 0.4 of a penalty to their dressage score of 38.1.

"He's a very economical jumper who doesn't waste any time over the fences. He felt very comfortable round here," said Andrew, who also finished seventh with Deborah Sellar's Nereo, having opted for a slightly quieter trip across the country for 7.6 time penalties.

Francis Whittington was crowned British National Champion after finishing second aboard Catherine Witt's British-bred Easy Target on a score of 40. Last to set out around Captain Mark Phillips' British Eventing Open Championship course, Francis, who had retained his dressage lead with a faultless showjumping clear, clocked up 4.4 time penalties.

"I am delighted with him, but I'm cross with myself for wasting time in a couple of places," he said. "I lost half a second when I made a poor decision at the BETA Lane Crossing (fence 7ab) [where he stumbled up the step] and then I let him cruise quietly over one of the oxers in the next field – I should have kept the pressure on and kept riding forwards."

Completing the top three was Britain’s Louise Harwood, who steered Roy Baker and Emma Baker-Jones' Whitson who is also British-bred around the course for just 0.4 of a time penalty.

"He's been nothing but consistent this year," said Louise. 

William Fox-Pitt collected two national titles at the Festival of British Eventing when he headed both the Smith & Williamson British Intermediate Championship with Catherine Witt's eight-year-old grey British-bred grey gelding Luxury FH, and the newly sponsored Martin Collins British Novice Championship aboard Judith and Jeremy Skinner and David and Margie Hall's Top Biats.

In the Smith & Williamson Intermediate Championship, William and Luxury FH lay second after the dressage on a score of 26.4 and added just 5.6 time penalties across the country to finish on 32.

"He wasn't ready to come here and race round inside the time," said William, for whom this was a fifth British Intermediate Championship win. "He's quite a cheeky, spooky horse who gets easily distracted and likes to have a laugh. He'd never experienced anything like the main arena atmosphere before and I think he singled out every single spectator to look at during his showjumping round."

Runners-up Ian Wills (GB) and Diana Brodie and his own 10-year-old Irish gelding Say I Do shot up the leaderboard from 11th after dressage after posting one of the quickest rounds across country for just 2.4 time penalties.

In third was British-based New Zealander Tim Price and Bango, another pair to record a double jumping clear.

In the Martin Collins Novice Championship, William and the classy seven-year-old Top Biats led from the start, posting a dressage score of 23.3 and adding just six time penalties across the country.

Top Biats, for whom this was a fourth win on the trot, came from the same French stud as William's four-star ride, Oslo.

“He was only 16.1hh when he was four. I almost picked up the phone to [smaller jockey] Harry Meade but I'm glad I didn't as he's now 17hh”, said William. “He's a great all-rounder and he finds it all very easy”.

Runner-up was Andrew Heffernan(NLD)  and the British-bred mare Lawless Lil, who added just 1.6 time penalties across country to her dressage score of 30. “She's a very good jumper, but very strong across country”, said Andrew of the seven-year-old, who is owned by her breeder Wendy Penny.

In third was Britain’s Sharon Hunt, who partnered David and Sue Howard and her parents, Janice and Terry Hunt's smart Irish-bred chestnut Loughnatousa Fabio.

For full details of results visit the Event page

Photo courtesy of Kit Houghton