New Zealand’s top eventing combinations are having a hit out at this weekend’s Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games start in France later this month.
The Kiwis have a great track record at the event, with Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson both multiple winners, and both will be hoping to replicate that again in the British Open Championship, the CIC3*, which has 53 starters. But reigning British National Champions Oliver Townend will be bidding to retain his title with Armada this year, particularly having finished runners up at Mitsubishi Motors Badminton in the spring. 2014 Badminton winners Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh are also in the mix, as is the ever popular Vittoria Panizzon with her speedy Borough Pennyz.
Overseas riders are unable to claim the national title, but can still win the class and the title of British Eventing Open Champion.
Nicholson has his two top horses on the card – his two-time Land Rover Burghley winner Avebury (owned by Rosemary and Mark Barlow) and his 2011 Gatcombe winner Nereo (owned by Libby Sellar), on whom he will compete at the world championships.
Todd has Oloa (owned by Di Brunsden, Peter Cattrell, Pip McCarroll and Todd), while Craig Nicolai will also start in the big class on his own Just Ironic.
Among those challenging for The Smith & Williamson British Intermediate Championship title are Ros Canter and Allstar B. Canter has had a fantastic season this year as part of the British Nations Cup squad with Zenshera, and Allstar B is another serious contender in her string, having finished 7th in the CIC*** at Bramham this year. Laura Collett is always one to watch, not forgetting the British stalwarts William Fox-Pitt, Ruth Edge and Pippa Funnell, back in the mix with Sandman 7.
A strong contender for The Martin Collins British Novice Championship title is William Fox-Pitt with Top Biats, fresh from success in the CIC** at Barbury Castle at the beginning of the month. Oliver Townend is a serious threat though, with five entries and with three Novice titles on his card.
The Equex China Advanced Class also promises to be a very competitive competition with 68 entries received, including Kristina Cook, Aoife Clark, William Fox-Pitt, with his World Equestrian Games mount Chilli Morning, and Andrew Nicholson with three rides.
The dressage for the open starts on Saturday morning (UK time), with the showjumping and cross country on Sunday.
Gatcombe Park is the home of Princess Anne and her family.
Other New Zealand combinations competing at Gatcombe:
Neil Spratt on Barones II (owned by Craig Horton),Tim Price on Bango (owned by Price),
Andrew Nicholson on Urma BK (owned by Paul Ridgeon), Jet Set IV (owned by Libby Sellar), Ulises (owned by Paul Ridgeon), Cillnabradden Evo (owned by Sally Anne Egginton), Thornton Jones (owned by Nicholson) and MHS King Joules (owned by Beedgebury Park, Gabriella Atkinson & Tom Joule),
Dan Jocelyn on Valentijn V and Odds Against (owned by Hilary Kennedy),
Alice Montgomery on Uno Di Landro (owned by Stephen and Charlotte Montgomery), and
Mark Todd on Leonidas II (owned by Di Brunsden, Peter Cattrell and Todd).