2021 Little Downham (4) Wrap Up | An Eventful Life

2021 Little Downham (4) Wrap Up


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The ground was irrigated, show jumps set and cross country course primed for Little Downham’s final event of the year last weekend.

Ely Eventing Centre played host to the Childeric Saddles Little Downham Horse Trials (4) in the heart of Cambridgeshire, offering educational questions for both horse and rider as well as providing a Pony Trial class.

Following on from Little Downham International (3) the week prior, and despite the unkind weather, the ground was ready for BE90, BE100, Novice and Intermediate partnerships to compete over the cross country course designed by Jonathan Clissold and Ely Eventing Centre owner, Tina Ure.

“Little Downham is a firm favourite of mine even if it is 92 miles away,” says Victoria Bax, who placed second in Novice Section T, being narrowly beaten by Ricardo Montalvo, who was closer to the optimum time.

“The location and layout of the event is excellent, and the ground is always in tip top condition having had the best preparation possible. Considering they run four BE events a year, it always amazes me how the cross country courses are never the same and you can always expect a good educational, yet testing challenge.”

Victoria swells with joy and pride as she talks of the journey that herself and her 10-year-old gelding have been on.

Horse breeder, Jane Turnball, offered Alberta’s Pride to Victoria, who specialises in retraining racehorses, eight years ago and ever since it’s been obvious that the horse and rider were simply meant to be.

“After lots of exchanges of photographs from the breeder to me, and me to both my trainer and farrier, we decided to make the long trip up to Doncaster in our lorry to collect him unseen.

“Upon meeting him, he was perfect, and I knew straight away he was something special so homeward bound we were with our new horse,” says Victoria.

To this day, she is still in touch with his breeder, and she named the gelding after her late grandma, Alberta, who is the reason she has her passion for horses.

However, the gelding was diagnosed with suspensory ligament damage in 2017 which caused a setback in their British Eventing plans. Victoria followed a strict rehabilitation regime with the horse to return to eventing nine months later and went on to produce a double clear and win his BE90 section.

Since then, Alberta’s Pride has continued to climb the British Eventing ladder including many wins and a Regional Final Qualification.

“Everything went to plan last weekend, he really couldn’t have gone any better. It’s not very often you can say that about all three phases when out eventing,” says Victoria, who achieved a personal best dressage as well as going inside the cross country time for their first time at Novice level.

“It is a little gutting to have finished on the exact same dressage score as the winner. As far as Alberta’s Pride knows though, we won,” she laughs.



It was also a clean sweep for riders of all backgrounds last weekend with Olympians Ros Canter and Kevin McNab taking wins. Kevin won Open Intermediate Section R and Ros, fresh from Team Gold at the European Eventing Championships, took the lead in Novice Section U riding small and mighty 15.2hh mare, Destiny.

Tokyo 2021 silver medal winner, Tom McEwen, has had a great run with the 7-year-old gelding, Brookfield Heart, this year having taken the win in the CCI 2*-S class at Cornbury House International earlier this season before leading the way in Intermediate Section Q last weekend.

Winner of BE100 Section G, Robbie Kearns, has been based with Kevin McNab for the past year and has owned his 6-year-old mare, Very Dignified, for a similar amount of time.

“She’s an awesome jumper and incredibly brave.

“We achieved a personal best dressage last weekend but unfortunately, because I was at the event alone, I had nobody to video it,” laughs Robbie.

Originally from Ireland, Robbie now has his first eventing win on British soil under his belt and is looking forward to Tweseldown and Aston-Le-Walls to wrap up the season.

Imogen Murray led the way in Open Novice Section M, Barnie Brotherton took the win in Open Intermediate U21 Section S with his own 17hh gelding, Cash Casino, Caroline Powell led Open Novice Section V and Lottie Royle took the win in Open Novice U18 Section M.



Charlotte Cooke led the way in the Pony Trial class on board her own 14.2hh gelding, Midnight Dancer II, and Zara Barber led BE90 Open U18 Section D riding Kildromin Champ in the pair’s first season together.

Other riders were local to Little Downham, like Sophie Reason who finished in second place riding her homebred mare, Heartstopper, known as Princess Angelina at home, in BE100 Section G.

“Little Downham is a local event for us which is always run extremely well. On the Saturday we had horrendous weather conditions, but the ground held up,” says Sophie, who also competed Ballygriffin Buddy in the same class to finish in seventh place.

Despite the torrential wind and rain Sophie achieved two fantastic sub 30 dressage scores and double clears with the horses as she prepares to take them Novice in the 2022 season.

“Angelina was the only horse to get inside the optimum time in the class; her grandfather was Troy so that’s where she gets her speed from.

“It was a great end to the season for me, even though I had to peel my breeches off at the end of a long day,” she laughed.



Caroline Dyer led BE100 Section H finishing on a wonderful dressage score of 24, with Jo Williams taking the lead in BE100 Section I, Emily Philp leading BE100 Section W and Sally Hancock riding Sergeant Crisp taking home the red in BE100 Open Section J (and if the name Sergeant Crisp rings a bell to our Australian readers, this is indeed the past 5* ride of Yona Lloyd who competed in the UK with Jess West and more recently Caroline Powell and is now enjoying some cruisy runs at 17-years-young)

The weather, unsurprisingly, did have its input on the day. Lizzie Baugh, winner of Intermediate Section P riding Carlingfords He’s A Clover, almost suffered a mishap in her dressage test when the gelding caught sight of flowers moving in the wind around the arena.

“Thankfully he pulled himself together and, if anything, went a little bit lazy when in the arena,” she smiled.

“He produced a consistent, mistake free test which I was pleased with. He has lots of ability in this phase and I am looking forward to a winter of training to progress him further.”

As the saying goes, there’s no I in team; but there’s sometimes a dog in it. Lizzie thanks her main supporter, her mum, and her dog, Leroy, for all the time and support they give to help her eventing dreams. Even though, we suspect, Leroy may just be attending for a day out.

“I was thrilled with the win and it offered a perfect end to the season for Tommy. We haven’t been together for long, I only bought him at the end of April and he has finished up being very consistent,” says Lizzie.

“In our last five events we have been double clear and finished in the top five all at Intermediate level, I feel like we have formed a good partnership. To go out with a win was the icing on the cake and I am looking forward to seeing what he can do next season.”



BE100 Open U18 Section K was led by Imi Bradbury, riding her own Ittigen W and Imogen Pohl led BE100 Open U18 Section L. The BE80(T) Section E class was led by Penny Baker with Hannah Pack and Nut Dun Yet taking the win in BE80(T) Section F in his first ever BE event.

Eloise Clare finished on her dressage score of 30.00 to take the win in BE90 Section A, Claire Wood led BE90 Section B and Lisa Maynard took the red in BE90 Open Section C riding Jubilee Party.

A testing cross country course and some great performances, draw Little Downham (4) to a close in style. After the return of hugs and competition this year, we’re thrilled to be back out with eventing fans and riders alike as the ground at Ely Eventing Centre prepares to enjoy a well-deserved break before things kick off again next season.

Article by Kelly Aitkin