Super Saturday at Chatsworth

      Piggy French and Highdown March

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Huge crowds of spectators were out enjoying great sport and entertainment at the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials on Saturday against the magnificent backdrop of Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s home near Bakewell, Derbyshire.

The large home crowd had plenty to cheer about as British riders scooped all four international novice classes and Laura Collett with her rising star Mr Bass took an early lead in the first leg of the 2018 Event Rider Masters series, in which six of the world’s top 10 riders are competing.

There were one-star (international novice) victories for Dodson & Horrell ambassador and British elite squad rider Piggy French on her fiancé Tom March’s Highdown March, Sarah Holmes from the Isle of Wight on Ellen Brown’s skewbald mare Harley Brown and Leicestershire-based Emilie Chandler riding the aptly named Winning Belle.

‘This is one of my favourite events because you can really gallop and jump and it feels special,’ said Emilie. Winning Belle is owned by the Eventing Journey Syndicate – who are looking for more members to enjoy the fun.


      Winner Rosie Fry with the Duchess of Devonshire and Sam Horrell of Dodson & Horrell


Rosie Fry’s long journey from Yeovil in Somerset was made worthwhile by a victory on Nick Engert’s eight-year-old Augusta Firefly and she was full of praise for course-designer David Evans’s track.

‘We’re so lucky to compete in places like this,’ she said. ‘You always know you’re going to get a good course here and the footing was lovely. Augusta Firefly is quite small but she jumps for fun and is a cross-country machine. My top horse is going to be off all season, so it’s great to have something like this to focus on.’

Ellie Healy from Bamford won the Brigadier Bill trophy for the best Derbyshire rider plus the poignant Izzy Squire Memorial Trophy presented by Tracy Dodds in memory of her daughter for the best rider on the East Midlands Junior programme. Izzy, a member of the local Barlow Pony Club, was due to compete at Chatsworth in 2016 but she died in a tragic accident while travelling in Vietnam.

The scene is set for some thrilling competition on Sunday, with British riders Kitty King and Laura Schroter plus Sweden’s Therese Viklund holding the leads in the three sections of the prestigious Dodson & Horrell Challenge.


      Laura Collett and Mr Bass                Photo courtesy Benjamin Clark/ERM


The first leg of the 2018 Event Rider Masters was all about Mr Bass. As the first combination into the dressage arena after lunch, Laura Collett and Mr Bass set their CIC3* PB of 25.3 beating their previous 26.6. With the highest FOD rate of the field, they are in with a serious chance of taking the win.

French, Italian and Australian riders are represented in the top 10 after the dressage phase of the Event Rider Masters, in which Pippa Funnell, one of the most successful riders of all time at Chatsworth, is in third place on Sandman 7, winner of the Dodson & Horrell Challenge in 2015. They won a European team silver medal later in 2015, but the horse has been off the road since a fall in 2016, so this is a happy return to the scene of their earlier triumph.


      Pippa Funnell and Sandman 7


Third place overnight goes to Thibault Vallette and Qing Du Briot who have a 100% CIC3* completion rate, with 2 podium finishes to their name. On average this combination add just 5.9 cross country time penalties to their score, which is considerably lower than the average time faults for the Chatsworth venue of 20.9

After a disappointing end to Badminton last week which saw Piggy French parting ways with Vanir Kamira, Quarrycrest Echo lifted team French sprits today by producing what was according to International Dressage Trainer Ian Woodhead, “The best test he’s ever done” for a personal best of 27.3


      Sammi Birch and Hunter Valley II are the highest placed Australian combination in the ERM 3* in 8th place


Bay My Hero and William Fox Pitt made a welcome return to Chatsworth this afternoon but posted a somewhat disappointing mark after Bay My Hero showed his excitement. Speaking after his test William said “He’s such an old friend and he was clearly very excited to be in front of the crowds.”

From 1299 cross country runs over the Chatsworth CIC3* course, there have been only five combinations who have made the time. Will we see someone become the 6th person in over 1300 runs tomorrow afternoon? Join us to find out and we'll leave you with some happy snaps from the event ....