Following questions submitted by the Rider Working Groups, the below responses have been received from the British Eventing Board of Directors candidates.
It is with much regret that the British Eventing Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of our Chairman, Fiona O’Hara. A recent change to her own personal and professional circumstances means that Fiona feels she is no longer able to give the continued time, commitment and dedication required to carry out the role as effectively as she would wish to.
First appointed to the BE Board in 2017, Fiona became Chairman in 2019 and was re-elected this year. She has been a key part of managing the organisation through the COVID-19 pandemic and paving the way with all stakeholder groups for the sport to resume successfully. The Board and Staff thank her for her commitment to the sport and will miss her commercial acumen and judgement deeply.
Chief Executive Helen West commented “This is an unfortunate day for British Eventing. Fiona has given nearly five years of dedicated, loyal service and been instrumental in managing our sport safely through some very testing times. She is a skilled chairperson, and we will miss her natural ability to strike the balance between setting discussion and listening. On behalf of everyone, I’d like to thank her for everything she’s done to manage difficult situations while simultaneously driving the organisation forward. We wish her all the best in the future both professionally and personally.”
Linda Allan, Chair of the Event Horse Owners Association (EHOA) acknowledged Fiona’s departure by saying, “On behalf of owners, we thank Fiona O’Hara for her services to British Eventing during her term as Director and also Chair of the organisation.” The British Event Organisers Association (BEOA), also acknowledged Fiona by saying “The BEOA recognise the years of service by Fiona O’Hara in her role for BE. We wish her well for the future.”
Bruce Haskell, Chair for the Event Riders Association (ERA) added to this by saying “ERA would like to thank Fiona for her valued input during her tenure as Director and Chair, particularly regarding the IT project and the abandonment insurance claim in 2020 which greatly benefited the membership. We wish her well for the future.”
ERA & the Rider Working Groups (RWG) have posed a series to questions to those individuals who have put themselves forward for the British Eventing Director elections.
Submitted questions can be found below. Responses will be hosted via the website and shared across social media in advance of the voting.
1. During your two-year term at BE if you could change 3 things
a) in order of importance what would these be?
b) what results would you hope to achieve from those changes?
2. What do you think BE should do to compete with the growing number of unregulated events targeting riders at 80, 90 and 100 levels and the linked grassroots series’ which have started up?
3. What do you see as the biggest issue facing BE currently and why?
4. How do you see yourself serving the "middle tier" membership? The Novice/Intermediate Riders who are not GR nor are they Elite, but they make up a great majority of the membership and are often the producers of the next Elite superstar horse so a very key part of our Sport.
5. The Rider Working Groups have already demonstrated their beneficial input to BE; including the Novice Masters, Area Festivals and Bicton 90/100 three day. If elected, what would you like from us in 2022/3?
Responses have been requested by the 15th November 2021
We are delighted to announce that Martyn Johnson has been appointed Event Director of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. The Board of Burghley Horse Trials Limited was extremely impressed with the number and quality of candidates who applied for the position but Martyn clearly stood out as the candidate best suited to take the event forward into the next stage of its development.
Martyn has been involved with event organisation and Eventing for more than a decade. He has been Event Director at Burgham International since 2013, developing the event into a key fixture in the British calendar. He was also Sport Director of the Event Rider Master series, working closely across Europe with event organisers, technical officials, national federations and the FEI to deliver the series successfully.
Commenting on his appointment, Martyn stated, “Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is an iconic event at a superb venue with so much history. I am honoured to take on the role of Event Director and am looking forward to working closely with all at Burghley to deliver the 2022 event and beyond. While respecting the traditions of the event and what is evidently successful, I am excited about exploring new ideas in the future to complement what is already great about one of the world's premier equestrian sporting occasions.”
The 2022 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials will take place from Thursday 1st September to Sunday 4th September; tickets will go on sale at the end of April 2022.
One of the legends of the sport of eventing chose the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials to announce his retirement from top-level competition.
New Zealander Andrew Nicholson, who came to this country some 40 years ago and never left, has been a tremendous supporter of this event, competing multiple horses nearly every year and winning in 1991 on Park Grove and in 2012 on Quimbo.
As a longstanding member of the New Zealand team, he has won world team gold and Olympic silver and bronze medals, plus an individual bronze medal at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, and has held the world number one spot.
A brilliant horseman renowned particularly for his ability to give horses confidence across country, he has won five of the world's six CCI5*s, including Burghley a record three times consecutively on Avebury and five times in total. However, the win that most people will consider the most special is when he returned from a serious neck injury to win Badminton in 2017 on the 17-year-old Nereo, a horse he had broken in as a three-year-old.
The injury, sustained in a bad fall in 2015, has taken its toll, however.
“I’m stepping back from these five-stars and four-star big events like this one,” he said. “I’m still riding and competing - I’m not planning to retire completely and will still have novice horses with the idea of getting them to two- and three-star and selling them. But I have a lot of respect for the courses at the likes of Badminton and Burghley and you’ve got to be fully up to speed, and I don’t feel quite like I used to, to be honest.
“I’ve been very lucky. I have ridden some amazing horses and competed with them all over the world.
"I will still be at Badminton and Burghley, I just might not be leaving the start box.”
Andrew, 60, will continue to produce horses from the Marlborough, Wiltshire, home he shares with wife Wiggy and children Lily and Zach, and, always generous with his advice, to be involved in coaching and training - he is in charge of the Swiss team at their home European Championships next weekend.
Nicola Wilson had the perfect send-off for next weekend’s European Championships when notching up her first Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials victory, in the prestigious CCI4*S for eight- and nine-year-old horses.
Nicola, 44, was riding James and Jo Lambert’s nine-year-old Coolparks Sarco, an Irish Sport Horse produced by New Zealander Andrew Nicholson who announced his retirement from the top level of the sport during the event.
“I am pinching myself,” said Nicola, who won team gold and individual bronze medals at the 2017 European Championships. “It's always a journey with every horse, and when it comes to a peak at the right time it is very special. It’s been such an exciting week.
“I was wondering if I should be doing this, as I am travelling to the Europeans [at Avenches in Switzerland] tomorrow, but I should have had more confidence in myself.”
With the highest-placed riders running in reverse order of merit, Piggy March's fast round on Cooley Lancer, for only 1.2 time penalties, elevated her four places to the runner-up spot.
Caroline Harris enjoyed her best Blenheim placing to date, finishing third on Rebecca Stones’ home-bred Miss Pepperpot, also winner of the prize for the highest-placed mare.
“I think that was the toughest course I’ve ridden here,” said Caroline. “The mare was very strong. She was very strong. She has come back from a horrible fall, but it didn’t faze her at all - she was so straight and honest.”
Ros Canter, who is also bound for Switzerland, was last to go across country, but incurred 20 penalties for a run-out on Izilot DHI and finished in 27th place. Tom Jackson, the overnight runner-up on HH Moonwalk, also faulted and dropped to 33rd.
Nicola, who was also fourth on Hawk Eye, was full of praise for the event’s new management.
“The Jockey Club has done a phenomenal job. It’s so exciting to have them involved in our sport,” she said.
Yasmin Ingham cemented her position as Britain’s brightest rising star in the sport of eventing by scoring the biggest win of her career in the CCI4*-L at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.
Riding Sue Davies and Janette Chin’s 10-year-old Banzai Du Loir, 24-year-old Yasmin showjumped clear under enormous pressure to hold on to the lead she had established on day one of the competition. She didn’t add a single penalty in the jumping phases to remain on her dressage mark of 25.2.
Yasmin said: “That is the most pressurised situation I have ever been in my life, and I just couldn’t be more grateful to be sat on such an incredible horse going into the final phase. He gave me his all and tried so hard for me. This is the best day of my life!
“I knew that I had put the work in at home and I knew coming here that I had done everything that I could to try to produce my best result. Everything that has gone into this horse from day one has worked up to this - it’s been amazing. This feels so special. I’m so, so happy. When I crossed the finish line, I was trying to believe what had just happened. I felt so proud of him and so pleased he is getting the recognition he deserves.
“To be here at Blenheim Palace and taking the win is something you dream of and I can’t believe it has happened to me. Now I can enjoy it! When everyone cheered, it made it feel real.”
Yasmin grew up on the Isle of Man, and moved to Cheshire to be based at Banzai Du Loir’s owners’ stables. She won individual and team gold medals at the Pony European Championships in 2013. Her most significant senior victory prior to this weekend was when she and Banzai Du Loir - who was bought from France for her to ride in 2019 - took the eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S usually held at Blenheim Palace at the 2020 replacement event at Burnham Market in Norfolk.
Ros Canter has a worthy successor to her reigning world champion Allstar B in Michele Saul’s Lordships Graffalo, second to Yasmin. The pair added just 0.4 of a time-fault in the showjumping to finish on 27.1, not even two marks behind the winners.
“I’m very proud of him - he gets better and better with every run,” said Ros. “I’m also delighted for Yasmin - she’s become quite a good friend of mine. We’ve travelled to [the French CCI5* event] Pau twice together with our mothers, just having a really nice ‘family’ time. She deserves every inch of this - she’s a fantastic girl, so good on her.”
While Piggy French and Brookfield Quality hit one showjump to drop from third to fifth, Piggy’s protegee Susie Berry jumped clear on Helen Caton and Caroline Berry’s John The Bull to take third place on their first-phase score of 27.9.
Susie was based at Piggy’s Northamptonshire yard for several years before setting up on her own in 2020. The 25-year-old Irish rider broke her arm in April, and she admitted that she was as relieved as she was delighted to clinch her best result at CCI4* level here at Blenheim Palace.
She was emotional in the aftermath, saying: “He is so talented that I put extra pressure on myself just for him, because he is incredible. He did each phase as well as he could, which I am so pleased about.
“He’s aptly named - he’s very cocky and arrogant, but as soon as I get on board, that’s what I love about him, and that is what makes him stand out from other horses. He wants it and he wants to win - when he’s in the ring, he fights for me. I have had such a rubbish year but this has completely turned things around.”
The chestnut mare Jalapeno III finished fourth with Gemma Tattersall, completing on her dressage score of 28.7. Chris Stone’s 13-year-old, a daughter of Badminton winner Chilli Morning, fractured a splint bone at Houghton Hall in May and the majority of her fitness work for Blenheim Palace has been done in the swimming pool.
With 2019 winner Piggy March fifth on Brookfield Quality, the top six was rounded off by Helen Witchell and My Ernie, who moved up from 26th after dressage to sixth by adding nothing to their first-phase score of 31.7.
This was the first year that The Jockey Club has organised Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.
Ian Renton, Event Director and Regional Managing Director for The Jockey Club’s West Region, said: “It has been an amazing four days for absolutely top-class horse sport, and our congratulations and thanks go to all the riders, owners and their supporters.
“I must say thank you to the team who have worked incredibly hard to put Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials on. While we were blessed with a huge crowd of more than 20,000 spectators here on Saturday enjoying the sunshine, the brilliant cross-country action and the spectacular surroundings of Blenheim Palace, we are aware of some issues, particularly around traffic flow, which we will address for next year.
“Thank you also to His Grace the Duke of Marlborough and his family and everyone at Blenheim Palace for their support and help. We have learnt so much from this first event; it is a fantastic occasion and one which we hope we can improve and add to in the future.”
Ros Canter will go into the final cross-country phase in the lead in the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials after showjumping clear on Izilot DHI.
Ros, the current world champion, was in first after dressage in this prestigious young horse class with a mark of 26.6 on her own and Alex Moody’s eight-year-old, and just added 1.6 time-faults round the demanding showjumping track.
“I couldn’t be more delighted with him - he’s never even done an advanced class before, let alone a four-star, and then I was away in Tokyo [where she was Britain’s reserve rider], so even coming here was a big ask,” said Ros. “I was confident he would have the scope to do it and he’s very brave, but he’s a spooky horse, and this was a clever track.
“I’m very open-minded about tomorrow’s cross-country - if he sets out and he’s green, I’ll slow down. Of course it would be great to win, but I am more excited about him winning an Olympic medal in the future, so I am realistic about what we will do tomorrow.”
Izilot DHI may be making his debut at CCI4* level, but he won the CCI3*-Ls at both Houghton Hall and Blair Castle this season.
There were only seven clears within the time in this morning’s showjumping - for which the spectacular main arena was shrouded in fog - from the 49 starters. Tom Jackson, second on Jonathan and Lexi Hambro and May-Britt Wedd’s HH Moonwalk, left all the poles up but collected two time-faults. He will therefore set out across country on a score of 29.6.
Tom said: “It’s obviously frustrating to get time-faults, but he’s an amazingly talented horse and I couldn’t really have asked more of him. He went a little bit tight in his body in the slightly eerie atmosphere, but he still jumped clear and he’s one for which we have big hopes for the future.”
Nicola Wilson has risen four places to third on Jo and James Lambert’s Coolparks Sarco after posting a clear round inside the time, remaining on her dressage mark of 29.8.
Caroline Harris is in fourth on Becky Stones’ Miss Pepperpot after adding just 0.4 of a time-fault to her dressage score of 30.4.
“She’s amazing!” said Caroline. “She’s only been eventing for two years, really, so she’s come a long way. This was a proper jumper’s track - not really in terms of height, but the distances really kept you thinking.
“She’s quite feisty and she likes to go - she’s been double clear [at CCI4*-S level] at Burgham and Hartpury, but anything can happen tomorrow.”
Willa Newton also jumped clear inside the time on Cock A Doodle Doo to take fifth place, while Piggy March is in sixth on Cooley Lancer.
Young rider Yasmin Ingham rode a perfectly judged cross-country round to hold on to pole position in the CCI4*-L at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, and now has the biggest win of her career tantalisingly in her sights.
Riding Sue Davies and Janette Chinn’s French-bred Banzai Du Loir (pictured below), Yasmin finished one second inside the optimum time of 10 minutes 28 seconds to hold a tiny 0.6 penalty advantage over the 2019 winner, Piggy March, with Brookfield Quality.
“I’ve never been in this position at a major competition before,” said a delighted Yasmin, for whom the huge cheering crowd had proved an inspiration. “I was really nervous - I just didn’t want to let the horse down. This would be my biggest achievement and I’m going to do my best to realise it.”
Piggy is also in sixth place on the Irish-bred Sportsfield Top Notch.
“He’s a brave horse,” she said of Brookfield Quality, who is owned by John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburne. “Coming here, there were a lot of unknowns, with the crowds and the atmosphere. He was hot, gazing at all the crowds and seemed quite distracted and I thought he might run a bit like a rabbit in the headlights and not focus and stay with me, but he was great. I couldn’t ask for any more of him.”
It is a stellar line-up ahead of tomorrow’s final jumping phase. The world champion Ros Canter is in third place on her rising star Lordships Graffalo , just ahead of Emily King in fourth on Valmy Biats and Ireland’s Susie Berry, fifth on John The Bull. Pippa Funnell has dropped a couple of places to seventh on Maybach, having picked up 1.2 cross-country time-penalties.
Ros, who is in the lead in the CCI4*-S class aboard Izilot DHI, said: “He [Lordships Graffalo] is the nicest horse I’ve ever ridden cross-country, because he goes as fast as you want him to go and when you sit up, he slows down in balance. He was on it today – he didn’t bat an eyelid at all the people, and made it feel easy which is exciting. The huge crowd, with kids running everywhere, was brilliant experience for these horses.”
Olympic team gold and individual silver medallist Tom McEwen is eighth on Bob Chaplin and his Tokyo team-mate Oliver Townend, the world number one, conjured a beautiful round from new ride Swallow Springs to lie ninth. Gemma Tattersall, recent winner of the Bicton CCI5*, is 10th on Jalapeño ll.
At the end of an exciting and successful day’s sport with a bumper crowd enjoying the sunshine and a return to top-level eventing competition, the price of one showjumping rail [four faults] covers the top 10 riders - of whom Yasmin, 24, is the youngest - thus guaranteeing a thrilling finale and a worthy 2021 Blenheim Palace champion.
Tomorrow’s showjumping - and the cross-country for the CCI4*-S - can be watched live on Horse & Country TV’s streaming platform, H&C+.
One of Britain’s most exciting young riders, 24-year-old Yasmin Ingham, is in the lead in the feature CCI4*-L class after the first day of dressage at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.
Cheshire-based Yasmin scored 25.2 on 10-year-old Banzai Du Loir to inch ahead of Piggy March’s mark of 25.8 with Brookfield Quality.
Banzai Du Loir, who is owned by Sue Davies and her daughter Janette Chin, won Blenheim Palace’s prestigious eight and nine-year-old CCI4*-S class in 2020 when the event was transferred to Burnham Market in Norfolk for one year due to Covid-19.
Yasmin (pictured below) said: “I still don't think that was his best test yet - I came out thinking there was definitely more work to be done in certain areas. He is a little bit inexperienced still with the crowds and the atmosphere, so I am delighted that he can score a mark like that despite those issues.
“It's exciting for the future to think that there are areas we can work on and correct, and then hopefully he could do a serious test.
“It’s really lovely to be back here at Blenheim Palace. (Current world champion) Ros Canter and I were both saying that we've never done the CCI4*-L here before, and I am excited about riding round the cross-country course on Saturday. The Jockey Club has done an amazing job in taking over the event, and it’s just super-exciting for the future of the sport.”
Piggy March, who won the CCI4*-L here in 2019 on Brookfield Inocent, her ride next week at the European Championships in Avenches, Switzerland, was pleased with Brookfield Quality. The 12-year-old is, like Brookfield Inocent, owned by John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburne.
She said: “He did a very nice test. He didn’t make a big mistake and he tried hard. There were moments when I thought he could have been a little bit more forward-going; he felt like he shrank a bit and still wanted me to hold his hand, but on the whole, we’re pleased.”
Emily King lies in third place, behind Yasmin and Piggy, on a score of 27.2 with Valmy Biats.
A strong field of 90 horses will start in the feature CCI4*-L class at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials tomorrow after all the contenders passed the first horse inspection this afternoon (Wednesday 15thSeptember).
This first phase of the event, which is run by The Jockey Club for the first time in 2021, took place in blazing sunshine on the South Lawn of Blenheim Palace. All the horses were trotted up for inspection by the three members of the ground jury (judges) - Judy Herbert (GBR), Seppo Laine (FIN) and Jane Tolley (GBR), and the FEI veterinary delegate, Liam Kearns, who is also part of the Cheltenham Racecourse team of vets.
The “best dressed” awards, sponsored by jewellery company Hi Ho Silver, went to France’s Gaspard Maksud, wearing a patriotic red beret, and British rider Georgia Bartlett. The best turned out horse prize went to Valmy Biats, ridden by Emily King.
Dressage for both of the classes, the CCI4*-L and the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses, at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials starts at 9am tomorrow. An extremely high quality entry includes two of Britain’s team gold medallists at the recent Tokyo Olympics, Oliver Townend and Tom McEwen, as well as heroes of the sport such as multiple former Blenheim Palace winners Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt.
Ian Renton, Event Director and Regional Managing Director for The Jockey Club’s West Region, said: “It’s fantastic to have got this far and to see the first horse inspection in such an iconic venue, in front of Blenheim Palace, and I’m just really grateful to my team, who have worked tirelessly to get us to the eve of Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials. We are working closely with the Palace, and it is wonderful to be here on this amazing site.
“I think we will have four days of fantastic sport. The weather forecast is good, and I think the team have done brilliantly to get the venue looking superb. I’ve walked the cross-country course with the ground jury and the course-designer, David Evans, and David and his team have done an exceptional job to produce a great track. We can’t wait to get started tomorrow.
“Ticket sales have gone very well and we will have a great crowd here on Saturday for cross-country. Tickets are still available, and will be on the day as well.”
To find out more and to buy tickets (under-18s are free), visit www.bpiht.co.uk
The Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials Facebook page is available at https://www.facebook.com/blenheimhorse