Date: 5th August 2013

  • Event: BRC Horse Trials Championships
  • Organiser: Helen Millichamp, 01403 752865, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • Location: Grange Farm, Swalcliffe, Oxon.


The BRC Eventing Championships took place at Swalcliffe Equestrian Centre in Swalcliffe in the depths of Gloucestershire.  The centre, like the location, is idyllic, surrounded by rolling hills and views of copses and corn fields into the far distance.  The event itself was centrally arranged with walking distances to everything apart from the steeplechase.  The atmosphere was more relaxed than any BRC final I have been to and everyone from the Stabling Managers to the Secretary, via the stewards and jump judges, were smiling and approachable.  To give you a flavour of exactly how relaxed it was, and anyone who has been to Aston and Lincoln will recognise how unique this is, when I arrived and asked where I could park to be near our team base camp, the delightful young man said, “oh don’t worry, you can park anywhere”.

By Thursday evening everyone from the 100+ and 100 teams had arrived with their helpers.  Courses had been walked, roads and tracks had been ridden and horses were well settled. 9am Friday saw the trot up which went smoothly apart from the unfortunate spinning of Jess Ayre’s lovely grey horse, who was none too sound when he came off the lorry, and sadly had not improved overnight.  Jess made the sensible decision not to appeal the decision and duly took him home the next morning.

The dressage was uneventful with its usual share of disputed marking and lucky escapes.  Penny managed to remember the test, much to her surprise, Andrea produced a much more relaxed test on Louie although her marks didn’t reflect that, Lorna was disgusted with her mark having done one of her better tests, whilst Mandy, Helen and Disco, and Deborah produced solid reliable tests.  The Horsham test of the day award went to Helen on Fred (Dunnes Hill) who produced a smashing, fluid test which saw them well in contention in their arena.  Later in the day saw the arrival of the 90 team, Ruth, Sonia, Anna and Louise.  They rode the roads and tracks and were settled in enough to join the wine de-brief later at the Horsham Base Camp.

Long Format day is always a tense one and Saturday morning saw its fair share of grey faces.  Luckily a few of the Horsham camp trekked over to the Steeplechase because Penny found herself and Pepsi in a ditch, luckily on phase C, and was located only due to the blue air that was coming from the hedgerow.  In  no time, however, she was back on, much to the demise of Lorna’s back who had to give her a leg up.  All credit to Penny and Pepsi though; they had made the time up when they arrived at the end of phase C and were one of the very few horses not to be recalled by the vet for a second heart reading.  It was a real privilege to watch the Horsham team in operation in the 10 minute box … in fact, I heard it being commented on by other teams.  Horses were washed off, riders briefed and watered, tacked was dried and checked and combinations were reunited like clockwork ready for the cross country, the whole process being rewound on the completion of the cross country.

The course itself was beautiful.  Solid, imposing fences, nicely up to height, and all sited cleverly on undulating terrain. The cross country was designed to carry the weight it should at a three day event and there were a fair share of time faults and jumping faults.  Our teams did commendably, returning with five clear rounds out of seven, (Andrea having one of the very few clear rounds inside the time all day), suitably fittened horses and ecstatic riders.  Meanwhile, the 90’s were doing their dressage and show jumping, all returning scores in the middle 30’s and the odd pole here and there, which was commendable, the show jumping being a proper championship course.

Sunday morning saw yet more grey faces, and huddled teams as the trot-up took place.  On the basis that eight combinations didn’t appear at all, two horses were spun andtwo were held and cautioned, it was to Horsham’s credit that all seven horses appeared fit, beautifully turned out and passed with flying colours.  The 100+’s and 100’s completed their show jumping rounds in pouring rain, the sole clear round being recorded by Andrea (her horse making up for its dressage by being a jumping machine), and the other team members returning scores of 4’s, one 12 and one 16.

Meanwhile down in the 10 minute box, the 90’s were doing their stuff, ably assisted by their support networks.  Anna, Louise and Ruth recorded fabulous clear rounds to add to their faultless steeplechases, whilst Sonia had the sort of day that she rarely experiences, clocking up 40 penalities on the cross country.  Tom, it appears, had forgotten that it was supposed to be a shared experience, leading Sonia to describe the experience as like riding Red Rum in a headcollar.

The end result was a very pleasing team 7th for the 100+ (7th Individual for Helen on Fred), 5th for the 100’s (7th individually for Helen on Disco) and 16th for the 90’s with a fabulous 5th for Louise Hamilton individually.  I have already appealed, on behalf of Horsham, to the Director of the riding club for the event to be held at Swalcliffe next year.   He was very positive about doing so and now all Horsham has to do is to make sure we get there.  Judging by the performances of the riders this year, it is a real possibility.

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Chef D'Equipe - Tiff Tasney