Written by Jon Lowe
• Townend is top of the class
Oliver Townend’s impressive run of good form continued at the Istanbul BBQ sponsored Kelsall Hill (2) when he took the top spot in the Open Intermediate (OI) class.
Winner of the highly coveted Event Rider Masters Series, Townend posted an impressive performance with Ballaghmor Class – a horse owned by Angela Hislop, Karyn Shuter and Val Ryan – to head the leader board in front of runners-up Louise Harwood and her long-time campaigner Mr Potts, while Oliver’s other rides Cooley SRS and King Joules also featured in the placings.
Oliver, who is currently residing in 10th place in the FEI world rankings, said: “Ballaghmor Class is a horse that we think an awful lot of, he completed his first CIC3* at Blenheim this year and he’s definitely a horse on the up.”
Ballaghmor Class arrived at Townend’s yard as a rather sharp 4-year-old and it has taken time to produce him to this level. Oliver now plans to aim him at Boekelo CICO3*.
“I hadn’t planned to run all my OI horses today but when I saw how fantastic the ground was I thought that I would give them a confident run before they head to Holland. Full credit to the Kelsall Hill team– this is an exceptional event,” said Oliver.
“In my opinion, Kelsall Hill is one of the best one-day event courses I’ve seen in this country.”
Oliver Townend, OI winner
Runner-up Louise Harwood explained that the home-bred Mr Potts was never destined to be at Kelsall Hill and should have been enjoying some ‘down time’ at her yard in Herefordshire after running at Burghley Horse Trials.
Louise explained: “Mr Potts was bored already! He just loves going to parties and he was threatening to jump out of his field if he didn’t do some eventing so I substituted him for my other horse ‘Jenga’. I’m hoping that he’ll be happy now for a week or two!”
The perfect ground on offer at this venue along with the outstanding cross country courses designed by Captain Mark Phillips attracted many other top-class athletes including Alex Hua Tian (CHN) and Carlos Parro (BRA) who have recently returned from representing their country at the Rio Olympic Games.
• Jim scores a home run
In the Intermediate (I) class, it was Kelsall Hill’s resident event rider Michael Owen who claimed victory aboard Jims Pal – a horse owned by his girlfriend Ashleigh Dean.
It was a last minute decision to run at Kelsall Hill as the 10-year-old gelding was due to have ended his season after completing the CCI2* at Ballindenisk in Ireland.
Michael said: “Jim had a few poles down at Ballindenisk as the ground conditions didn’t suit him in the show jumping so we decided to get a late entry at Kelsall Hill to give him a better experience on good going before he enjoys a holiday. He felt fantastic today so it was a decision that certainly paid off!”
Bought as a 5-year-old from Mark Allman, Ashleigh produced Jim up until the middle of last season when Michael took over the reins and started to campaign him at Novice level.
“Jim’s come on in leaps and bounds this year, so the plan for next season is to go out at Intermediate and then hopefully to make the move up to Advanced. He’s only about 15.2hh can look a bit like a pony when he’s standing in the stable but he has plenty of scope and he can really gallop,” said Michael, who was the only competitor not to incur cross country time penalties in this section.
“This event is so well organised and everyone was very helpful and friendly; the ground was perfect – probably the best going we’ve run on all season.”
Anya Kolleth, PON winner
• Merlin works his magic
For the first time, Kelsall Hill hosted a Pony Open Novice (PON) class at this event. This is a new edition to the British Eventing calendar and one that offers combinations the opportunity to be selected for the Pony Programme and the European Pony Championships.
In a hotly-contested class, it was Anya Kolleth and her own Laburnum Ineer who eventually claimed the spoils ahead of Saffron Osborne and Red Dandy and, with both combinations finishing on identical scores, the placings were decided by their proximity to the optimum time.
Earlier this year, Shropshire school girl Anya Kolleth was part of the Silver medal winning pony team at the European Championships in Vilhelmsborg, Denmark where she finished in 8th place individually aboard ‘Drop the Subject’. Laburnum Ineer, an 11-year-old connemara gelding who’s known at home as ‘Merlin’, was also long-listed.
Said Anya: “Merlin is such a cheeky and characterful pony and we have developed a real bond. I have three horses at home and that means a lot of early mornings and late nights to fit everything in but I’m happy to make these sacrifices as it’s all worth while.”
In the Money
The journey from Warwickshire to Kelsall Hill was a trip worth taking for Sarah Parkes with placings in both the OI and I classes.
Sarah took third place in the OI aboard the ‘cross country machine’ Balladeer Durban Hills. The 11-year-old son of Seabrook, has recently returned to top form after needing some time out due to undergoing treatment for kissing spines syndrome.
Said Sarah: “Balladeer Durban Hills was rather mischievous in his dressage test today but he jumped a great double clear. Kelsall Hill offers such inviting cross country courses at all levels and the ground was so perfect that I could put my foot down a bit.”
It was a hectic weekend for Sarah with a total of seven horses competing between Moreton Morrell and Kelsall Hill Horse Trials.
In the Intermediate class, Jane Starkey’s homebred mare Browning, ‘ate up’ Mark Phillips’ cross country track to finish in the runners up position. Sarah took over the ride on this lovely mare earlier in the year and she would like to credit Jane Starkey for all the preparation she does at home.
• An autumn spectacular with something for everyone!
Now in its tenth year, this event saw a record number of visitors who flocked to enjoy 3 days of equestrian sporting action along with the other attractions on offer such as Cheshire’s largest multi-species pet show ‘Pets on the Hill’.
Run by the Willows Veterinary Group, this event boasted a whole host of activities for canines including a doggy fashion show, Flyball demonstrations and bale jumping competitions. However, this was not your average dog show and a plethora of more exotic creatures could also be found such as snakes, alligators, tarantula spiders and even the odd skunk!
Other visitor attractions included a Macmillan Coffee Morning hosted by Kelsall Hill’s Emma Latham, while students from Coleg Cambrai attended educational ‘Access All Areas’ tours of the event with British Eventing RDO Fiona Saxby. Meanwhile, younger visitors – and those just young at heart – could enjoy free face painting and drawing competitions.
Kelsall Hill’s next British Eventing Horse Trials will run from 21-23 April 2017.