6 mei 2014

Ashfields sets the pace for a great British season

Ground conditions were even better than expected, said organiser Zoe Morgan at a well-supported Ashfields. Spectators at Saturday's marathon were impressed by the standard of driving, especially that of the top para-drivers, tuning up for their World Championship at Sandringham in June.

Friday’s dressage sorted several classes early on, the 13.7k marathon ran without incident, the tightly flagged obstacles perhaps favouring smaller ponies. The water was a bogey for the unwary and several horses made for the finish prematurely. Sunday’s cones competition was the decider despite a generous number of double-clear rounds.

Boyd Exell ran hors concours, seeking his best team out of six horses. Georgina Hunt led the horse fours in all but the cones competitions and host Wilf Bowman-Ripley ended second overall followed by sisters Karen and Pippa Bassett in a strong class of ten. George Bowman Senior was fifth. It was a colourful marathon: Bassett red, Bowman yellow, Dick Lane's blue and yellow, and the green speedy blur that was Daniel Naprous, second fastest.

Ten open horse pairs chased local new "girl-racer" Wendy Embleton, at her first national, driving a pair of horses from Wilf, after a fast marathon. She slipped to second, losing her tiny lead over Karen Scott-Barrett in the cones, however South African Wayne Van Niekirk retained third. Barry Capstick typically led from the front in advanced pairs to win by over 45 penalties. David Matthews missed cone 16, giving second place to Angela Flanagan with Sue Botley close behind.

Single horse drivers sorted themselves early: novice Avril Munson romped home as did intermediate Hannah Kelly and open driver Maxine Ingham. Terry Bailey, advanced, gave BC Chairman Jock McFarlane a hard time, beating him in the dressage but Jock, despite being dis-satisfied with his marathon, second to Ellen Littlechild, rebounded to win the class. Terry ended second, Matt Were took third place, Ellen fourth.

Karen Hellier’s bold Hackney pony topped a strong novice class, fending off junior James Starr, and Katie Cooper had an equally stylish win over Nick Hammond, intermediate. Sue Mart retired her youngster on the marathon but was pleased with his performance in open pony, which Tracey Fletcher won by over 30 penalties. Minta Winn gave her a harder time in the advanced class but Tracey took the red rosette.

Advanced pony pairs driver Alan Clarke won by over 50 penalties. Amanda Nisbet looked solid to win the open pairs class but a pony’s leg over the pole gave the win to Barbara Kingsley-Monks.
Pony teams – Sara Howe drove the cones dressed in her Saturday night’s 70s disco kit to raise funds for the para-drivers but she still won by 40 penalties over Brian O’Slattara who overtook Gary Power in the cones.

Two pony tandems fought hard but Ben Edmed came out top. David Taylor, horse tandem, showed off with a double-clear cones round.

The eight para-drivers drove six obstacles: Deborah Daniel deserved to win with powerful performances all round. Lindsay Paice piled on the pressure with a double-clear in cones but Deborah did the same. Lucy Barclay was third.

“Another great event at one of Britain’s best venues!”

Fiona Powell