Oliver Townend jumps into a winning position (Photo courtesy Eventridermasters.tv & copyright Libby Law Photography)The fifth leg of the inaugural Event Rider Masters competition saw an exciting if somewhat uncertain finish on Sunday (August 28) at the Blair Castle International Horse Trials in Perthshire.
There was no doubt that British rider Oliver Townend took first place - becoming the first double winner of the Event Rider Masters' six leg contest and scooping up the £16,000 first prize from the £50,000 pot.
Riding Cillnabradden Evo, who Townend partnered to win the fourth leg at Gatcombe three weeks earlier, the pair were faultless show jumping to head out on the cross-country in pole position, where they completed an impressive clear jumping round adding just 2.4 time penalties.
Marlborough-based New Zealand rider Jock Paget was the on-and-off-and-on-and-off again holder of second place. But he was, after two reviews of the television footage of the cross country, finally found to have jumped the wrong side of a flag - and was eliminated.
Riding the nine-year-old Angus Blue, Paget had a dressage score of 50.7 and four show jumping faults and with no cross country penalties would have been sure of second place. This set-back follows Paget's terrible bad luck at Rio when his horse was injured in a freak stable accident and he was replaced in the New Zealand team.
Young British rider Tom McEwen on board Diesel took second place with British Rio team members Gemma Tattersall riding Santiago Bay in third.
The ERM final is in two week’s at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (September 10 & 11) and the contest for the £50,000 ERM bonus for the outright looks wide open.
Australia’s Paul Tapner is the current overall series leader on 92 points. He finished in sixth place at Blair castle riding Kilronan. Gemma Tattersall lies in second with 90 points, Oliver Townend in third with 74 and New Zealand's Jonelle Price is in fourth place on 69.
Tapner, Tattersall, Townend and Price are all tipped as serious contenders for the ERM series title.
Paul Tapner, who has stables in Highworth, remains hopeful: “We always thought Oliver was well suited to this series and he’s certainly making a strong late challenge, Gemma has also been very threatening on the leader-board in all her ERM starts and Jonelle is a very fierce competitor."
"I hope my horse Yogi Bear can pull something special out of the picnic basket at Blenheim in order to secure us the series!"
Marcelo Tosi & Eleda All Black - trotting up for the judges [Photo copyright Nico Morgan Photography.)Imogen Hellawell (known to all as ‘Immy’) is based at Marcelo Tosi’s Woodland Farm stables in Marston, near Devizes, and is working for her Advanced Apprenticeship in Horse Care and Management with Haddon Training, who are based in Marlborough. Her Apprenticeship programme has been specifically tailored around a professional eventing yard.
“Throughout the programme Immy has been a dedicated learner who has shown a passion for working with horses. Immy demonstrates an extremely high level of quality in her work and a strong commitment to the care of Marcelo’s horses. Getting the opportunity to groom at WEG 2014 is incredible, knowing Immy Huggy would have been turned out beautifully.” Alex Plank, Haddon Training Assessor.
Marcelo Tosi is a Brazilian event rider. He was selected to represent Brazil at this summer’s World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy. Imogen went to WEG as his groom with his horse Huggy - more formally known as Eleda All Black. [Photo of Tosi & Eleda All Black copyright Nico Morgan Photography - see more at his website.]
Imogen kept a diary of her time with Team Brazil for WEG 2014:
Packing, packing, packing
We started the trip to WEG on Saturday, August 23. We spent the day packing the truck not just for our horse, but for the other two team horses as well. By the time we were finished the truck was pretty full!
On French soil
We then set off at 7.00 am for the ferry in Portsmouth which was two hours away. When we were on the ferry, we did the final check on the horses (giving more hay and water) ready to leave them for the night. We arrived in Caen, France at 7.00 am. Once we left the docks we stopped to give the horses water and more hay. After a one hour drive from the docks we arrived at our base. We unloaded the horses and settled them into their stables.
The grooms' bunksFinding our feet
We spent the most of Sunday, August 24 unpacking and getting the stables organised, in the evening we took the horses out to stretch their legs. Myself and the other grooms went to discover the groom’s accommodation, which was small but very comfortable.
Hustle and bustle
Monday and Tuesday were mostly the same: the horses went for dressage training and then to graze. The venue was becoming very busy with the other teams arriving.
Let the games begin…Wednesday, August 27
Marcelo and Huggy had an arena familiarisation. This is where they could work in the warm up arena beside the main arena. In the afternoon we had the first vet inspection, so before that I spent the early part of the afternoon plaiting and making the horse look beautiful!
Thursday 28th August
In the morning we had our dressage test, so I had to plait the horse up and prepare him for the test. Our horse did a reasonable test which we were all pleased with. In the afternoon we had one other team rider doing their test, so I went to watch it with the rest of the Brazilian team.
Friday, August 29
Today was a day off so our horse just went for a short gallop and jump just to prepare him for the cross country the following day. The rest of the day we spent a lot of time grazing.
Our last team rider did an amazing test on Friday, putting him into the top 20 after the dressage.
Saturday, August 30
Cross country day arrived with very wet ground, we were lucky to be ninth out on course!! The horse was taken for a light hack to relax him and stretch his muscles in the morning. I spent this time preparing the kit so I was ready to meet them at the finish (water buckets/ sponges/scrapers/spare shoes/grease/rugs etc.)
Then it was time to go cross country, I was full of nerves as the first horses hadn't made it home. Our horse came home finishing strongly! It was time to get him washed off and cooled down - this was a real team effort getting water on and off him.
When Huggy was cool enough we took him back to the stables to be iced and to rest. For the rest of the day I helped the other Team Brazil grooms with their horses at the finish, as they had helped me. In between I kept walking and icing my horse.
In the evening it was crazy busy as we had to get all the equipment packed up, ready to leave early for the main stadium for the show jumping the following day.
Cross country day was a real team effort as everyone helped everyone! Our Chef d'Equip made sure us grooms had what we needed from food to information about the next day, and our vet gave the best care to get the horses ready for the next day.
The Brazilian riders rode all three horses home safely, so we had a team for the next day!
The showjumping arenaSunday, August 31
The alarm went off at 4.30am. We had to get the horses ready for an 8am trot up. My horse was a bit stiff so we took him for a long walk to loosen up. Then we did another lot of icing. I plaited him up and prepared him for the last vet inspection, we arrived half an hour early to give them a good walk. My horse trotted up very well and passed the vet inspection, as did the other two team horses!
After the trot up it was a mad rush to get the horses loaded and ready to leave for the hour drive to the main stadium. We settled the horses and organised the equipment we needed. At 12.45pm the riders had an arena familiarisation in the stadium, so that the horses could see everything before jumping with a full stadium of 22,000 spectators!!
Then it was my boy’s turn to jump his round. He had 3 poles down but we were very happy with him as he tried his heart out for us. There were only 13 clear rounds, so it was a course that caused a lot of problems.
Huggy in retirement When he finished it was a bit of an emotional moment as this will be his last eventing competition, as we are retiring him now. Everyone was very happy with the results as the team finished 8th out of 18 teams.
Monday, September 1
We arrived home Monday lunchtime, Huggy has now started his retirement in the field.
It was a successful WEG both for the team and Marcelo - and me.
Huggy has been an amazing horse for us, he has had an impressive career: winning team Bronze at the Pan AM Games 2011, competing at Burghley Horse Trials CCI 4* and Pau CCI 4*, the London 2012 Olympic Games and now a World Equestrian Games, he fully deserves his retirement!
No sooner was Immy back at the yard, than she was asked to accompany one of Tosi’s horses on its journey by air back to Brazil.
The Brazilian eventer Marcelo Tosi has been based in Britain since 2010. The 44-year-old has a degree in animal science and is a director of the Agromix Animal Feed company.
He was assistant trainer to the Brazilian team for the Athens Olympics in 2004. He then based himself in Belgium for six years. He rode for the Brazilians at the London Olympics.
In 2011 he won team bronze at the Pan Am Games in Mexico. He now trains with Nick Turner, Mark Todd and dressage rider Anna Ross-Davies.
Eleda All Black, owned by Bronwen Jones and Iain Greer, is a 17 year-old British bred gelding.
PCSO Annabel Twiddy & Donnerbolzen A Wiltshire Police Community Support Officer is celebrating after displaying her show jumping skills to the Queen while competing in her first ever police event at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
Riding her horse Donnerbolzen, PCSO Annabel Twiddy, of the West Swindon Neighbourhood Policing Team, represented Wiltshire Police,and beat off competition from 98 others to win individually.
Her individual performance put PCSO Twiddy's team into sixth place out of a total of 33 teams.
"All three members of each team jumped, and then the top 12 teams went into a jump off in the afternoon where Her Majesty The Queen came to watch."
"Our team qualified, and I was put forward to jump again," she said.
"I've now been invited to represent the UK Mainland forces in Guernsey in August. Our team has also qualified for the Forces Equine Championships."
"It was a true honour to present Wiltshire in front of the Queen, and I am so proud to have ridden for the force. I can't wait to do it again soon."
Annabel started with Wiltshire Police as a Special Constable in May 2013 and five months later joined the control room as a dispatch assistant and 999 call handler. In January 2015, she began training as a PCSO before joining the West sector team.
A keen horse rider, she represented England Under 18s in show jumping: "I have ridden since before I could walk."
"I used to compete and breed horses full time but when the recession came around, unfortunately I had to sell all my horses bar one, which took me from 13 to one."
In 2015 PCSO Twiddy found Forces Equine who organise teams and various events for serving officers. This enabled her to compete in a mixed police team, with officers from Avon and Somerset and Derbyshire.
She asked to be allowed to represent the force and wear a Wiltshire Police uniform:
"Permission and uniform was granted - I had a special PCSO tunic made for me and I was issued with a hat band and badge for my riding hat."
She is currently in the top three of the Forces Equine Champions League.
Annabel and Donnerbolzen...watched by The Queen.