There were almost certainly record temperatures on the Marlborough Downs on Sunday (July 7) for the last day of the St James’s Place Wealth Management Barbury International Eventing and Show. There were certainly record crowds.
And they were treated to a magnificent display of cross country riding by New Zealander Andrew Nicholson and his grey gelding Avebury to win the A Section of the three star competition. For Nicholson, who is based in Lockeridge, it was a repeat of his 2012 victory, but this time by a comfortable ten points over Britain’s Izzy Taylor on KBIS Starchaser.
Afterwards Nicholson said: “It’s a great place to win. It’s a great preparation for the big competitions. Avebury is very experienced and easy to ride now and he found it very easy. It felt like a top performance in every phase.”
Earlier, tackling the cross country jumps in the main arena, Nicholson had come off Nereo his mount in the B Section.
The 3,730 metre cross country course with its 27 fixed obstacles was designed by Captain Mark Phillips. The last fifteen riders of each section went out in reverse order – making a thrilling finale to the four day eventing competitions.
But there was disappointment for Laura Collett (Rayef), Tim Price (Wesko) and Paul Tapner (Kilronan) who started the course in second, third and fourth places, but lost their chances when their horses ran out from one of the jumps.
The B Section of the three star event was won by Britain’s Piggy French on Tinkas Time. Piggy French had a tense time as her round was interrupted when Mary King and Imperial Cavalier fell heavily coming out of the ‘Hippo’ water jump. The medics and vet arrived in seconds and neither of them was hurt. (Photos below.)
A high point of the day was the appearance of Britain’s racecourses greatest competitor, Kauto Star who was retired from racing last year.
His owner, Clive Smith, wanted him to have a second career and has teamed him up with Laura Collett at Membury. And under the watchful eye of Yogi Breisner, the performance manager of the British Eventing Team, is turning his talents to dressage.
In Barbury’s main arena, Kauto Star and Laura Collett gave an impeccable display of his new skills. During the display Breisner told the crowds about Kauto Star:
“If he could talk he would, I’m sure, say he’s happy. He’s a bit of show-off – he enjoys pointing his toes and he’s enjoying his second career. He’s a real gentleman – he knows that he’s a superstar and still has his wonderful temperament.”
Another local hero making it a second win in a row was nineteen year-old Vortex. New Zealander Tim Price and Vortex took the Retraining of Racehorses Championship after a jump-off in the main arena by the ten leading combinations.
Tim Price, who has stables at Minal with his wife Jonelle (a member of New Zealand’s 2012 Olympic team), took Vortex through a clear round, leaving Oliver Townend and Black Tie II in second place. The prizes were presented by Barbury’s National Hunt trainer Alan King.
Marlborough News Online asked Tim Price whether he would bring Vortex back for this competition next year: “I’m not sure. At his age you take things one day at a time. But he felt better than last year. He’s a natural trier.”
This year Barbury added top line show jumping to the mix. Tina Fletcher gave spectators a display of speed and accuracy to win the Verdon Grey Accumulator on Hello Annie.
Nigel Bunter, Chairman and owner of the Barbury International Eventing and Show: “There have been so many highlights over the last four days, visitors have been treated to a display of world class horsemanship with today being the jewel in the crown and the weather gods have certainly been smiling on us.”
“A record crowd have joined us here on the stunning Marlborough Downs and its great that so many have been able to enjoy this glorious part of Wiltshire”.
The crowds certainly had a lot to cheer: Kauto Star – the superstar, Vortex – the successful veteran and thrilling rides in the premier competitions’ cross country. But the biggest cheer resounding across the downs came from the tent where fans were watching Andy Murray make sporting history.
To enlarge click on photos.