Great Witchingham Horse Trials gets underway

The Intermediate classes kicked off the first day of the three-day Great Witchingham Horse Trials, at Blackwater Farm yesterday.

Attracting plenty of top-class riders, the course is a welcome early season run for many and provides a solid run at this level in preparation for the upcoming events such as Burnham Market and Houghton Horse Trials.

This well-attended event pulled no punches however, and Rodger Howe's showjumping course proved to be highly influential. Only five jumped clear in the Open Intermediate from 20 starters, with the other Intermediate sections showing similar casualties. However, the Advanced Intermediates showed how it was done, with 13 jumping clear.

AI winner Joy Dawes from Bedfordshire certainly enjoyed the event and put the showjumping scores down to the 'undulating ground.'

Dawes rode her own 16.3hh bay gelding Finisterre, going late in the class around the beautiful course and just pipping Piggy French and Livingstone II to the win by only a few time penalties. French, however, went on to enjoy success in the Open Intermediate D with Kiltealy Brief, who started with a cracking dressage score of 24.6 and picked up just 4.4 time penalties to beat Matthew Wright and Fernhill Encore into second place.

Time was of the essence around David Sayers' course, with many appearing to put their foot down yet still accruing time penalties.

The highest placed local rider in the Open Intermediate was Kelly Aldous, who rode a fast round on Hearnesbrook Derby Day to pick up a well-deserved sixth place. Aldous was also fourth in Intermediate C on High Garth High Flyer.

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Norwich rider Stuart Higgins also took the highest placed local honours on Sarkcsillag Belfegor, coming in seventh place just behind another of French's rides, Primitive Prospect, in Intermediate B.

Novice section F also ran yesterday with Australian Brook Staples taking the honours on Doonaveeragh O Six, and then repeating her success in BE 100 G on Doonaveeragh Dot Com in a class with a hugely international flavour as second place was Brazilian rider Renan Guerreiro.

In the CIC* class, riders dressed in their finery for the dressage. Local riders to watch in this class are Essex's Victoria Bax and Norfolk's Casey Parker and Georgie Bell but the current leader is Northampton-shire's Ibby Macpherson as they head into the show jumping and cross country this morning.