Event Rider Masters: will a superb contest & thrilling finish help to safeguard the future of Barbury Horse Trials?
The new owner of the Barbury Castle Estate, Chris Woodhouse, presented one of the prizes at the end of the thrilling third leg of the 2017 Event Rider Masters (ERM) contest on Sunday (July 9) at the St James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials.
As he presented Andrew Nicholson with his prize, Nicholson spoke to Chris Woodhouse earnestly - very likely saying how much he hoped the Barbury Horse Trials could continue. Mr Woodhouse, who had apparently enjoyed the ERM competition, then spoke with Sir Mark Todd.
Top place on the podium went to France's Thomas Carlile. Riding the nine-year-old stallion Upsilon, Carlile became the first rider in the series to lead an ERM leg across all three eventing phases.
They delivered a stunning dressage test, scoring a remarkable mark of 30.8 - the lowest ever seen across the ERM series and a personal best for the combination. Then, following a faultless showjumping performance, the combination set the Barbury crowd alight with a superlative jumping round on the cross country.
Carlile added just 1.6 time penalties to his dressage score and scooped the £16,000 first prize. His result was a record finishing score in the ERM series of 32.4: “All my words go to Upsilon, he is superb. I just sit on him and let him get on with his business and he has risen to the occasion this weekend. He’s a class act and is certainly on form and hopefully there is a still lot more to come from him”.
Carlile joins 2016 ERM champion, British rider Oliver Townend as the only rider in the entire series to have topped the podium twice.
This Barbury win puts Carlile at the top of the overall 2017 ERM series scoreboard with 56 points. British rider Sarah Cohen is in second place with 51 points and Andrew Nicholson is lying third with 50 points.
Lockeridge based Andrew Nicholson, riding last year’s Leg 3 winner Nereo, was unable to catch the French combination. Andrew jumped clear in the showjumping, but added one-time fault, then delivered another master class on the cross country, but 5.6 time penalties meant he had to settle for second place, finishing on a score of 41.5.
Although obviously delighted, this ended the New Zealander’s five-year reign at his local event at this level.
Nicholson, paid tribute where it was due: “Nereo did a wonderful job. We stayed in a nice rhythm on cross country as I felt Thomas and Upsilon had a strong lead, so didn’t want to scorch around trying to catch them. I expected them to deliver and they did."
"My fellow is a wonderful horse and we know each other very well. I am delighted for him and all his connections”.
Former Double Olympic champion, New Zealand's Sir Mark Todd celebrated his first ERM podium finish, taking third place.
A win or placing in the series has eluded Todd to date, but his ride Leonidas II was foot perfect in both the showjumping and cross country, finishing on a score of 42.3: “It’s gone very well this weekend."
"I have been fighting ERM demons in previous legs, but it’s all come together today. Barbury is one of the most beautiful eventing venues in the world and it’s a great to be part of the series and finally get on the podium!”
Pippa Funnell was the best placed British rider, in fifth place on Chippieh.
The Event Rider Masters 2017 series continues next weekend in France, at Haras de Jardy (July 15-16) for the fourth leg of the 2017 series.