British International Piggy French was a force to be reckoned with at an action-packed Kelsall Hill Horse Trials – an event kindly sponsored by Istanbul BBQ Chester.
French took pole position in the Graham Heath Equestrian Open Intermediate (OI) class with ‘Jump Jet III’ ahead of Ireland’s Jonty Evans and ‘Cooley Rorkes Drift’. Third place went to China’s Alex Hua Tian riding ‘Dooney Rock’, a horse owned by Lesley Bradshaw from Istanbul BBQ Chester.
Piggy’s run of good form continued in the Barlows sponsored Intermediate (I) class when she pocketed the runner’s up prize in Section M aboard ‘Templepatrick Cooley’. In Section L, Piggy and ‘Big Berry’ shared second place with Loretta Joynson and ‘PSH Jake’ after both riders completed on identical scores.
Piggy commented: “Kelsall Hill is a fantastic event and one that I always try to get to. I thought that the course was well built and inviting. Enough questions were asked, but it was fair and very educational for the horses. The ground was amazing, full credit to the team.”
This was the final run for the 8-year-old ‘Jump Jet III’ who is owned by Piggy’s partner Tom March before he moves up to Advanced level.
| A close call
It was a close call for the remaining OI placings with just 0.1 cross country time penalties deciding the outcome.
Runner-up Jonty Evans (IRL) hit the headlines this year after launching an unprecedented crowdfunding campaign to purchase the talented ‘Cooley Rorkes Drift’ by raising £500,000 from 6,800 individual donations.
Said Jonty: “I’m very lucky to have ‘Art’. The fact that people took our story to heart and decided to help me is just amazing. This was my first visit to Kelsall Hill, it’s a lovely venue which has almost the feel of a three-day event.”
Third-placed Alex Hua Tian (CHN) took over the ride on ‘Dooney Rock’ this summer and their partnership looks promising.
Said Alex: “It took us a little while to gel, but we’ve jumped good double clears at our last two events which is very exciting for us. Kelsall Hill is a wonderful event and the amount of effort put in by their team is extraordinary. The ground is reliably good and it was nice to have some changes to the course.”
Alex also piloted Lesley Bradshaw’s ‘Serenade III’ into third place in Novice, Section W.
| Keep it in the family
Paul Sims and ‘Lonestar’ secured a sparkling victory in I, Section M. This was the first win at Intermediate level for the 8-year-old gelding who is jointly-owned by Paul and his father Steve.
“Lonestar is a big, rangy type of horse so we’ve taken our time with him. He answered all my questions at Kelsall Hill and we’re really excited about his future. He’s got everything I’d want in a 4-star horse,” said Paul.
Rosie Thomas and the homebred ‘Heat Wave’ produced the fastest cross country round of I, Section L to take the top spot.
Rosie commented: “Heat Wave is quite a quick horse and he’s not strong which means I can keep kicking on. I wasn’t sure how the course would ride when I walked it, but it rode very smoothly so I was able to put my foot down.”
| An unexpected victory
BE90 Mitsubishi Motors Regional Final winner Sophie Croxton didn’t expect to be at Kelsall Hill with the 14.2h ‘Mr. Mcgowan’. In June, Sophie managed to injure both of her ankles which resulted in spending 3-months out of the saddle.
Sophie explained: “We missed the entries deadline because I was uncertain about my fitness. I only found out the night before I was due to run that we’d been accepted from the waitlist. I feel so lucky to have qualified for the final and I’m going to enjoy the Badminton experience!”
Record entries were received across three busy days of competition with riders praising the going and the cross country courses designed by Captain Mark Phillips and built by David Evans. David and his team have been appointed as the course builders for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Visitors to this award-winning equestrian venue enjoyed birds of prey demonstrations, free face painting, and a range of trade stands. Emma Latham hosted a coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and The Injured Jockeys Fund, and the attractions extended to an arena eventing championships sponsored by Frickers Formula Horse Feeds.