Britain’s Willa Newton scored an impressive double at Alnwick Ford International Horse Trials, winning both the Newton Hall CCI3*-S and the Hambro Sport Horses Burgham International Horse Trials CCI2*-S at the Northumberland event.
The Leicestershire-based rider took the CCI3*-S aboard her own Lawrence and Anne Marshall’s Cock A Doodle Doo, a nine-year-old by Clarimo whom she bought in Germany as a three-year-old. She was second after dressage on a score of 26.4. When the leader Alex Hua Tian picked up 7.6 cross-country time-faults on Hamlet to Willa’s 2.4, she seized first place.
Willa rode Katie and Jamie Davenport’s homebred mare Light The Fuse to victory in the CCI2*-S. Fourth after dressage with a mark of 29.4, the pair added nothing to that score to vault up the leaderboard.
Willa said: “I’ve had a great weekend - this is my first time at Alnwick Ford, but I’ll definitely be back! Cock A Doodle Doo was super - he’s very exciting. It was a good cross-country course for him; there were lots of different questions and the going was great. He had a few spooky moments in the dressage, but I was pleased with him and his jumping phases were spot-on.”
This was a first international victory for eight-year-old Light The Fuse at just her second attempt at the level.
Jamie Davenport said: “For someone called Light The Fuse, she’s been a slow burner - she was quite a slow starter, but she’s really come into her own in the past year. Willa is doing an amazing job with her and we’re so thrilled.”
This was also the owners’ first visit to Alnwick Ford, which is situated between Newcastle and Alnwick.
“It is absolutely worth the four-hour drive - it’s a lovely place and everyone has been so friendly, and the viewing on the cross-country course is fantastic,” said Katie Davenport. “The plan now is to come to Burgham [Alnwick Ford’s ‘big sister’ event, 28 July-1 August] because it is run by the same team and they have been so welcoming.”
East Lothian’s Douglas Crawford was second in the CCI3*-S on Geoff and Elspeth Adam’s Shadow Lad. Douglas, who has just won a place on HorseScotland’s performance squad for 2021-2023, completed on his dressage score of 31.4.
He and third-placed Vittoria Panizzon (Mandy and Alan Morrison’s Gebaliaretto) were two of only three riders not to pick up time-faults round David Evans’ cross-country track. Vittoria, who hopes to represent Italy at the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics, also finished second and fifth in the CCI2*-S with Irish Jig III and Chatter On.
Vittoria said: “I’m thrilled. I had a slightly shaky start when I didn’t have the dressage I expected on Gebaliaretto. She’s normally sensational, which was a bit frustrating. After that I was determined not to waste a single mark and to stay on that score! She’s very honest and a great jumper - the only hard bit is the steering, because she can get quite keen.”
This is the first time that Alnwick Ford International Horse Trials has hosted a CCI3*-S class. Event Director Martyn Johnson said: “It has been great to see some of Britain’s top riders here this weekend, and the feedback about the courses and the ground has been very pleasing. We are now putting all our efforts into Hambro Sport Horses Burgham International, which will be the biggest horse trials in Northern England this year and a real eventing bonanza with a festival feel to it. Having had to run ‘behind closed doors’ last year, we can’t wait to welcome the public back to Burgham next month.”