Strong performances at first Endurance GB FEI competition of 2020

Nicki Thorne and Kerewong Rubaiyat

Strong performances at first Endurance GB FEI competition of 2020 at Lavenham Ride in Suffolk

Britain’s leading endurance riders were out in force as the sport staged a return to FEI competition for the first time in 2020 at Suffolk’s Lavenham Ride.

The popular Lavenham Ride (19-20 Sept) saw strong performances and given the lack of competition over the past year, encouraging completion rates across the classes.

Organisers and riders alike were delighted to have been able to meet stringent COVID guidelines to enable the competition to take place from the grounds of Semer Manor near Ipswich. Sponsors over the two days included; RiderCise, Zayin Arabian Stud, Gadebrook Stud, Lancashire Group Endurance GB, Haygain, Elm Farm Arabians, Equine Exceed and On The Hoof Distance Training

In the top FEI CEI 3* 140km class, Dorset-based Nikki Malcolm and Oso Arabian’s Oso Spiralling Wind, who made their mark on the 2019 season with wins in the RiderCise Southern Championship and at the British Horse Feeds Red Dragon, maintained their record with a superb victory. The pair won by a nose after a racing finish ahead of second-placed James Dickinson with Magdy, who train in West Sussex with Powys rider Fiona Griffiths with Balishla who followed in third.

Nikki Malcolm and Oso Spiralling Wind
Nikki Malcolm and Oso Spiralling Wind image credit Kerry Dawson, Endurance GB

The majestic Australian-bred grey Spiral, owned by the Oso Arabians team from New South Wales completed the surprisingly undulating and technical course at a speed of 16.2km/hr.

“Taking into account that the first loop was ridden in the dark I think that’s a respectable speed,” said Nikki.

After the setback of being vetted out after Spiral stumbled just after the finish line in the 160km at Julianges in France back in July, Nikki said having finished that ride strongly, she had regrouped to bring Spiral to Lavenham and it had been a watershed moment.

“This was my 10th successful FEI 3* as a rider and after the heartbreak at Julianges and the year we have had, it’s the one that meant the most.

“I had to focus on my belief in Spiral and how amazingly talented he is to have dealt with the post lockdown race and conditions and travel like the champ he is.

“We went to Lavenham with the advantage of a 160km under our belts and a horse deemed 100% by his home team of vets, osteopath and saddler.

“He won his race in style, the final vetting wasn’t particularly enjoyable for me to watch from the sidelines but it was clear he was a sound horse with plenty left in the tank and had secured that much deserved  3* status.

“I will be forever grateful to the organisers for giving us the opportunity to turn Spiral’s form around as well as his Australian connections  for the trust they instil in me to make the correct decisions for Spiral and his career whilst flying the flag for OSO Arabians in the UK

“Looking to the future, for now it’s a case of ‘the best plan is not to plan’ and hope that the world can get a grip on this virus, but we would love to take on the ultimate FEI three star 160km again as soon as we can in 2021.”

In Saturday’s CEI 2* 120km class, there was a superb win for Cornwall-based Vicky Ham and Cwyrtai Sherif. Alicia Reeves won the YR 1* class with  Doylan Lacoste’s Gift while in Sunday’s CEI 1*, victory went to Italy’s Chiara Careddu. Abergavenny-based British team vet Georgina Vaughan showed her customary competitive spirit leading home Sunday’s CEI 2* field with Vlacq Journeyman (Jonty) ahead of Saffron Bishop (Ty Shute Golden Savannah) and Abigail Chisholm (Mellway Royalblue Diamond).

Georgina Vaughan
Georgina Vaughan with Vlacq Journeyman image credit Kerry Dawson, Endurance GB

Expressing the gratitude of riders that the event had been staged, Georgina Vaughan said: “Thank-you to everyone who believed in this almost impossible task at times of holding an FEI ride and everyone who gave up their time to volunteer and make it work in a safe COVID secure way.

“Jonty felt stronger than ever and loved every minute and is finally turning into the horse I always believed he was capable of being.”

Norfolk-based Nicki Thorne flew the flag for East Anglia taking the FEI CEI 100km 1* contest with Kerewong Rubaiyat and summed up the atmosphere at the season’s first major ride.

Nicki Thorne and Kerewong Rubaiyat
Nicki Thorne and Kerewong Rubaiyat image credit Kerry Dawson, Endurance GB

Nicki said: “I am absolutely delighted with the weekend’s results.  It was so lovely to see everyone again and really quite emotional.  We have an exceptional sport and I have really missed everything from the camaraderie, the friendly competition, great British trainers and riders on display and last but never least these spectacular horses who never cease to amaze.

“The weather was glorious but the flip side of this meant we had extremely hard ground and despite the course having ample grass tracks to make for good cantering, the course was technical with plenty of ninety-degree turns and narrow fields exits with changes of direction taking you back on yourself, and so I was very conscious to take the cornering very carefully and not just to be sure I was saving enough horse for later on, but also to be very aware of the concussive impacts of the ground on legs that had not been previously tested earlier in the season.

“Thankfully my fabulous mare April (Castlebar Nadiva) was foot perfect and gave me a brilliant ride. Cantering in the sunshine, I was very much aware of how lucky I was to be there.

“I did have worries about making sure we were all safe and COVID compliant, following the new FEI regulations for the first time and also not having had any of the usual run up and prep to a big competition.  What I experienced was an extremely well laid on event that managed to provide a high-end competition with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere – I can’t thank the entire team that put this on enough, between the FEI ride officials, the EGB ride organisers and every volunteer – they truly put on a great competition.”

Nicki’s weekend of form continued with a completion the following day with her strong little bay mare Kamilcia in the FEI 3* 140 kms thus qualifying the combination to be eligible for selection in the Europeans and World Championships next year.

Rosemary Attfield, Chair of International said: “The FEI riders along with members doing a CER and graded competitions were all very grateful that EGB managed to run a three, two, and one-star competition helping them all with the new FEI qualifications to upgrade and qualify for the European and world championships to be held in 2021.

“Competitors were very appreciative of the venue and the route and although the ground was hard after the hot dry weather, and horses lacked competition practice due to Covid the pass rate in the FEI classes was nearly 60 per cent.

“As Chair of International, I found it very useful to watch the horses on both days who are likely to be looking for places on the World and Senior and Young Rider European Championship teams in 2021. The international committee looks forward to receiving applications of interest from interested parties for both championships.”

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