by Julia Crockford
The Bathurst Estate Cirencester Park looked magnificent in the sunshine as 121 competitors arrived on the Wednesday,
only to have everything possible from there on in. Rain, hail, thunder and lightning and strong winds over the
weekend made the going very muddy and greasy, leading to several of the tracks on section A being un-driveable and
changes of course made almost up until the start of the marathon on Saturday morning.
This year portable stables and electric hook up were introduced for anyone wishing to book them, obviously appreciated as 52 stables were booked along with numerous hook-up bookings.
Competitors from Ireland, Scotland and Wales and Gail Bain (AUS) headed for the dressage arena on Friday as the day dawned bright and clear until the Horse Fours class late afternoon, when the heavens opened and you could hardly see Wilf Bowman-Ripley across the arena at times, such was the rain.
Novice Horse driver Alfie Budd set the best dressage score of the day, the only competitor to drive under 50 with a 46.93 score posted.
Marathon day also started fine, but several downpours throughout the day made the going very tough and it soon became very boggy in some of the exposed obstacles leading to several mishaps, retirements and eliminations.
Phillipa Howe, daughter of pony fours driver Sara, drove the fastest marathon of the day on 76.11 to win the prestigious Chariots of Fire Trophy (In memory of Amanda Nisbet) for the best marathon and the Diana & Michael Zatouroff Lancaster Plate for the best marathon of all single ponies, before going on to win the Advanced Pony Class.
Course designer Kim Andreasen (DEN) set two flowing and interesting cones courses, which produced eight double clear rounds throughout the day.
Sarah McLuahglin won the Novice Pony Championships with Holly Dormer in reserve, following the elimination in Obstacle 2 of Howden Novice Driver of the Year, George Wood.
Mark Riley overtook leader Chris Patrick in the cones to take the honours in the Novice Horse Class.
Rebecca Boswell, winning the Intermediate Pony Championship with the Saddler’s Young Driver of the Year, Colette Holdsworth, a close second and Jackie Durkin winning the Intermediate Horse Class.
David Whitfield had a strong competition weekend, winning the Fenix Carriages Open Horse Driver of the Year, followed by the Open Horse Class and the Terry Bailey Memorial Trophy for the best combined placing in Dressage and Marathon and Nicola Blandin, also a Fenix Points league winner scooping the Open Pony class.
John Ripley triumphed in the Advanced Horse class with Gary Power winning the open Pony pairs and Stephen Williams the Open Horse Pairs.
Louise Kaiholm stormed round the marathon with her pony pair to win the Advanced pony pairs class with David Matthews taking the honours in the Advanced horse pairs.
The Tandems were only represented by ponies this year with the win going to Jeff Ormerod after a closely fought contest. Sara Howe retained her title again in the pony fours class with Wilf Bowman-Ripley taking the honours in the horse fours following the retirement on the marathon of Fenix Driver of the Year, Dick Lane.
This year there was more interest in the Evolution classes and 13 competitors took part in Sunday’s one day competition. Margaret Collins, after a very tight class and the closest of victories, winning the Evolution pony class by 0.02 over Amelia Waddicor. Ralph Bailey taking the Evolution Horse class to great applause.
Maureen Capes won the Young Pony class with Christine Twigg winning the Young Horse class. Hopefully these new ‘competitors’ will now take the next step and progress up to Regional or National level.
Despite the weather conditions a lot of the lorries managed to exit the lorry park without help, although for those needing it the Bathurst Estate tractor was on hand along with Dick Taylor, the Estate Manager, an unsung hero who was with us most of the weekend helping in all manor of guises; helping ferry water bowsers, assisting in course changes, even aiding stranded ‘maidens’ (Louise Kaiholm) in sorting the AA and getting home to Scotland. Dick will be sorely missed when he retires this Christmas and I feel sure we all wish him well for his future in Cornwall.