McNab makes a splash before rain stops play at South of England | An Eventful Life

McNab makes a splash before rain stops play at South of England

      Kevin McNab and Hanerina SSF                Photos courtesy Spidge Photography


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Kevin McNab took home a clutch of rosettes from South of England’s three novice sections, rising from a fifth in the Section H, to claiming second and third in the Novice section G but it was in the Section I that he eventually took the top spoils.

It was only his second competitive ride aboard Nicole Pearson’s mare, Hanerina SSF – the pair were second at Upton House on their debut earlier in the season – and he describes the seven year-old Dutch-bred mare as “Having a really nice nature and being good in all three phases”

One of three horses that Nicole has stabled with Kevin, the next rider to take the reins of Hanerina will be his wife Emma, as Kevin trusts the mare to take care of Emma on her first event back since the birth of their daughter, Annabelle.

But Emma’s tenure will be short-lived as “Nicole will take her on after that and I’m sure she’ll have a lot of fun going forward”




In Section G, it was the young rider, Ben Taylor riding Barnacurra Ace Ventura who took the top spoils, giving the partnership their first win at this level and pushing Kevin into second on Vidalgo and third on Insipring Isa.


      Ben Taylor riding Barnacurra Ace Ventura


The Novice Section H went to the in-form Sam Sweeney, nee Penn, who took two wins at the event.

Sam, a popular local rider from East Sussex, secured her Novice victory on Just A Griffin, a six-year-old by Royaldik, who was having only his second run at this level, following on from an impressive season of top ten placings in all bar one event.

Sam also piloted the ten-year-old Burntwood Sorrel, owned by Becky Rignall, to a victory, this time in the BE100 Section A, aided by recording just 19.8 penalties in the dressage phase. The partnership’s eight years together shows in their consistent form, always at 100 level and of their seven events this season, they have been victorious on no less than three occasions, with two runner-up slots.

The runner-up to Sam here however was Jemima Upton, who also took fourth place in the same section.

Living in Essex near Stansted Airport, Jemima claims South of England as one of her local events due to a dearth of events in her region.

Used to travelling, Jemima juggles riding – with significant help from her mum, Sara-Jane Upton – with attending the University of Reading where she studies Real Estate.


       Jemima Upton and Centre Stage


Thrilled with the performances of her two rides, Jemima explains “The Boatman belongs to family friends and although he’s not built for the job and was written off as a youngster due to having kissing spine, with management and his sweetest nature he has out-proven everyone!”

The Boatman finished in fourth while it was Centre Stage who was just pipped to the top spot. A five-year-old, she’s found everything easy to the extent that Jemima decided she could have two months off earlier in the year for embryo transfer.

Jemima says, “She’s quite a contemporary type of eventer with a bit of warmblood and flashy movement but she coped so well with the terrain, and the wet, at South of England”

Taking everything in her stride, 16-year-old Charlotte Kennedy claimed the Open U18 BE100 Section F aboard Ricardo Red.

Younger sister to Alex Kennedy, who scored an individual bronze at last year’s European Young Rider championships, Charlotte has had to show a maturity beyond her years in producing Ricardo Red.


      Charlotte Kennedy and  Ricardo Red


“We bought Ricardo Red from Irish Horse Imports as a four-year-old and she started well but then lost confidence transitioning up to BE100 level and again this year to Novice level” explained Charlotte

A reliable horse in the dressage arena, Ricardo Red led this phase, and posted a clear in the show jumping with Alex saying, “Mark Corbett walked the courses with the U18 section and really helped us plan our turns and ride to be committed.”

Perhaps the wet going underfoot assisted as penalties at ditches and water have thwarted previous potential victories but this time Charlotte says “She was foot perfect.”

Charlotte also feels the little mare – she stands at around 15.1hh – benefits from regular water schooling and a trip to Littleton Manor earlier in the week for a splash helped and, luckily “Mum’s my saviour, she drives me everywhere!”

Sponsored by Voltaire Saddles and Dengie Horse Feeds, Charlotte has left school for an Apprenticeship under Haddon Training, which, conveniently, she’s able to do from home and she has her goal set for 2020 “I really want to aim for Frickley Junior Championships next year”



The BE100 Section C read a little like a who’s who of eventing but top slot finally landed to Jodie Amos, who added just 0.8 time penalties to her 25.5 dressage score on Albatomas (watch their cross country video here). David Britnell took runner-up, but there were some notable scalps including Jasmine Wilks, who, while in contention, was unseated on the cross-country aboard Comsplan Zeus.

Thankfully Jasmine’s day did not end on a low as she took the top slot in BE100 Section D aboard the Connemara pony, Colwills Silver Hill, who is produced by Jo Marsh-Smith.   

This was the partnership’s third win of the season having secured back to back victories at Firle Place and Borde Hill earlier in the year.

Another to be having a bonza year is the 13-year-old Angel’s Spirit ridden by Alana Sparrow. On her third run of the year the mare claimed the coveted Mitsubishi Motors Cup at 100 level and since then has recorded three more wins, two seconds and two thirds – including taking BE100 Section B here.

Alana manages Chelwood Equestrian, a 160-acre facility in East Sussex that is owned by Angel Spirit’s owner, Mr Rasshied Din.

While many of the sections had their fair share of faults in the show jumping and cross-country phases, BE 100 Section E was perhaps one of the most competitive with numerous combinations finishing on their dressage scores.

Katy Jones and Chillis Prince were one such, completing on 24.8 penalties which put them 0.5 penalties ahead of three riders all finishing on 25.3; Sarah Gordon, Pippa Funnell and Lucy Gasston taking the next three slots respectively with the result being decided on who finished closest to the optimum time.


      Sacha Hourigan and one of her twins, Double Act IV


Across the three Novice and six BE100 sections to run, Sacha Hourigan also had a good event and the notorious identical twin grey geldings were vying for attention again. 

Ernie, aka Twice as Nice IV finished sixth in Section A – Sacha also took a fifth placing in this section – but Eric, aka Double Act IV, gave Sacha her best result with a second place in section B, while her Novice ride, Willy Be Dun also picked up a fourth prize.

While the conditions were described as wet but with near-perfect cross-country going on the Saturday, a deluge of rain on the Saturday night meant that all competition was abandoned on the Sunday with standing water making movement of emergency, and indeed, any, vehicles, tricky.

Thanks to British Eventing texting all competitors and the powers of social media only a handful of horseboxes turned up at the gates to be turned away. 

Organiser Jenny Nolan says, “Next year will be the 45th running of South of England and I hate to admit it that I’ve been involved from the beginning but to have to abandon mid-event was tragic”

Among the disappointed were some 16 ponies who had travelled from France to take part in the CCI-S2* but Jenny says, “There were two good things; we had the permanent pavilion for them to shelter in, and we’d paid for lunches for all the fence judges so we had around 70 lunches to offer them – they seemed very pleased to eat sandwiches!”


Article by Anna Bruce