British eventer Nicola Wilson had the best possible preparation for this week’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy.
Riding One Two Many, Wilson won the Scottish Open Championship CIC3* title for the fourth time at the Blair Castle International Horse Trials last weekend.
One Two Many, a 12-year-old son of Chacoa who joined Wilson’s team last year, is owned by Gerry and Mary Kemp and Janine Shewan.
“One Two Many is a phenomenal horse and lovely in all three phases,” Wilson said. “I am so lucky to have such an amazing support team – my owners, husband and groom – as we all ride the highs and lows together.”
One Two Many had originally been entered for the CCI3*, but with Annie Clover’s late selection for WEG, the switch was made to the CIC3*, enabling Wilson to leave for France early on the Sunday morning.
Wills Oakden and Louise Harwood completed the top three line up riding Greystone Midnight Melody and Mr Potts respectively, Oakden having closed the gap to less than half a penalty point behind Wilson with the fastest cross country round of the day.
As all eyes are now on WEG in Normandy, it was fitting that the CCI3* winner was Frenchman Astier Nicolas, riding his own Quickly Du Buguet. The mare completed on her first phase score, one of only two horses to do so. Again, less than one penalty point separated the top two finishers, Flora Harris having to settle for the runner up spot when Amazing VIII lowered an expensive rail in the show jumping – Astier not only went home with the Blair Castle International Horse Trials Quaich and the Duke of Atholl Challenge Cup, but also a cheque for £4500.
“I had heard that Blair Castle was like the Tour de France in the mountains, so we thought it would suit her – she’s very fast across country and an amazing jumper. It was also a good idea to come to Blair in preparation for the Europeans next year,” Astier said.
Louise Harwood was again in third place, this time with her WEG reserve horse Whitson who could have taken the title but for a rolled pole. The influential showjumping phase also dashed overnight leader Gwendolen Fer’s hopes, Romantic Love dropping to fourth.
Blair Castle was the fitting backdrop for Matthew Wright’s stalwart campaigner Hugginstown’s last competitive run. Now 17 years old, Charlotte Cole’s son of Puissance has contested the CCI2* at Blair for the last six years, winning in 2009 and 2010, runner up in 2011 and 2012, and fifth last year. Hugginstown goes out on a high, topping the leaderboard having added just 0.4 cross country time penalties to his dressage score – and the only horse of the weekend with a comfortable winning margin.
“Huggy has always saved his best for Blair, and after he won today we decided to retire him,” explained Wright. “He’s never had anything wrong with him; he’s hard as nails, and will now have a nice life as my hunter and pet. He’s very special and will be truly spoilt – he’s given me and his owner some great days.”
The CCI1* was extremely competitive, the top five combinations all finishing on their dressage scores. Emily Young-Jamieson, who is Lucinda Fredericks’ Head Girl, led from pillar to post to take the title on her own Gortmore Tommy T, ahead of Hendrik Degros riding Crackerjack and Lesley Webb with Kilpatrick Lord, one penalty separating the top three.
Organisers are now looking ahead to next year, when Blair Castle hosts the FEI European Eventing Championships, from September 10 to 15.