Osberton International Horse Trials Starts in Earnest

Osberton International Horse Trials dressage rider on grass

Osberton International Horse Trials started in earnest on Thursday with riders of all levels taking to the dressage arenas, punctuated by appearances from some of equestrian sports most exciting names – and the stars of the future, too. 

Agria Equine Lifetime CCI1*

Osberton Ambassador, Simon Grieve, kept his grip on the CCI1* leaderboard with Make Believe, who took that top spot in the first day of dressage. Their score of 24.9 sees them sit 2.1 penalties ahead of their nearest competitors, second-placed Amy Simpson and Hero RHF, who go into cross-country on a score of 27. 

Said Simon of the overnight lead:

“I’ve been doing this job for a million years and I’ve never been in the lead at an international before, so I’m really excited – I keep on going ‘round the stables and telling everyone!”

Simon is looking forward to tackling Stuart Buntine’s cross-country track today with Emma Crabtree’s eight-year-old, who he’s “keeping ticking over” for daughter Ellie Crabtree while she’s away at university.

“Each level is strong in its own way, and it should be really fun and really educational for the horses,” he said. 

Arena Saddles CCI2*-L

Emily King took the day one lead in the Arena Saddles CCI2*-L, riding Zoe Feeney’s Just Soda No Ice, a new addition to her string this season. The pair posted a final score of 27.7, giving them a marginal lead ahead of second-placed Kate Walls and the former Tom McEwen ride Bob Chaplin on their 28.2. 

Investec CCI3*-L

The overnight lead in the Investec CCI3*-L came right down to the wire on Thursday: though CCI1* leader Simon Grieve maintained the top spot for much of the day with Autograf – 

“he moves beautifully, which I’m not that used to!”

he laughed – he was pipped at the post in the afternoon by British Young Rider gold medallist Millie Juleff and new ride Viktor Krum on a 26.9. 

That looked well set to hold the overnight lead, until the final combination of the day, Worcester-based Claire Deuten and her British-bred nine-year-old, Lord Flashheart, entered the arena. They delivered a smart, consistent test liberally peppered with 8s to put a final score of 26 on the board, claiming themselves the uppermost slot on the leaderboard at the end of day one. 

“I’m chuffed with him. I’ve had a bit of an up and down year, but he had a great spin around the Blenheim Eight- and Nine-Year-Olds class, and he’s feeling really fit and well, so I thought, ‘let’s bring him back to Osberton’. I’ve ridden him since he was a four-year-old, and we just syndicated him last year, so it’s really great to be able to show off exactly what I think he is for such a supportive, wonderful group of people.”

Project Pony CCIP2*-S

Dressage culminated on Thursday for the Project Pony CCI-2*-S class, and the best of these pint-sized powerhouses was Midnight Mist III, piloted by 15-year-old two-time British Pony team rider Ella Howard. The Suffolk-based rider was the only competitor in the class to slip beneath the 30 barrier, with a 29.8 to her credit. She also sits third with Colemanstown Rocket on a 31.1 going into Friday’s cross-country, and is joined on the provisional podium by 14-year-old Annabel Ridgway and Akim de l’Arquerie. 

Title sponsors Project Pony are committed to putting talented young riders aboard equally exciting prospects, and Annabel and Akim de l’Arquerie are one of three Project Pony partnerships in this class – in provisional fifth place on a 34.3 is Tabitha Taylor and Buzz Lightyear, while Harry Crisp and Miltonhill Maisie go into cross-country in seventh place on 35.2. 

Telstar Trophy Novice & Foljambe Bowl Intermediate

As in the CCIP2*-S, just one competitor in the Telstar Trophy Novice clinched a sub-30 score. That was Suffolk’s Laura Erith, who posted a 29.4 with her own eleven-year-old Stonehavens Orestus.

After a season of mixed fortunes, from cancellations to tricky ground, Laura hadn’t necessarily intended to contest the Restricted Novice Three-Day – but after entering the Agria Equine Lifetime CCI1* with Kilbunny Eisteach, she decided to fill another space on her lorry with Stonehavens Orestus.

“I thought, ‘I’ve got to carpe diem, I’m not getting any younger!’ So I thought I’d better come do it,” she said. “It’s been an up and down year, and so we hadn’t registered to do an international this year, but we’ve run at Osberton before and this test really suits him, so as long as I’m not pathetic, he’ll be great!”

Wiltshire competitors Megan Brown and Don Stefano lead the Foljambe Bowl Intermediate on a 34.1. Both Restricted Three-Day classes will head into the cross-country phase on Friday. 

Friday’s full day of competition will see the second half of the dressage phase for the Arena Saddles CCI2*-L and the Investec CCI3*-L, while the rest of the classes will head to Osberton’s beautifully-designed cross-country track, the brainchild of organiser and designer Stuart Buntine, for their pivotal phase, beginning with the Agria Equine Lifetime CCI1* from 9.00 a.m. 

In addition to world class eventing, Osberton will once again host the Bennington Carriages National Carriage Driving event. Leading drivers from across the country will put their prowess to the test as they drive at speed through winding obstacles and take on the Estate’s new Marathon course.  To experience the thrill of Marathon Driving ensure to book your Car Pass for Sunday 1st October.

Osberton International Horse Trials has been a favourite in the British Eventing calendar for many years and gives visitors access to one of Nottinghamshire’s most beautiful private estates. To learn more visit the Osberton website.

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