Townend produced an impressive performance with Ballaghmor Class to head the leader board in front of runners-up Louise Harwood and her long-time campaigner Mr Potts, while Oliver’s other rides Cooley SRS and King Joules also featured in the placings.
“In my opinion, Kelsall Hill is one of the best one-day event courses I’ve seen in this country. I hadn’t planned to run all my OI horses today but when I saw how fantastic the ground was I thought that I would give them a confident run before aiming them at Boekelo Horse Trials in Holland. Full credit to the Kelsall Hill team– this is an exceptional event.”
“In my opinion, Kelsall Hill is one of the best one-day event courses I’ve seen in this country.”
Runner-up Louise Harwood explained that the home-bred Mr Potts was never destined to be at Kelsall Hill and should have been enjoying some ‘down time’ at her yard in Herefordshire after running at Burghley Horse Trials.
“Mr Potts was bored already! He just loves going to parties and he was threatening to jump out of his field if he didn’t do some eventing so I substituted him for my other horse ‘Jenga’. I’m hoping that he’ll be happy now for a week or two!”
The perfect ground on offer at this venue along with the outstanding cross country courses designed by Captain Mark Phillips attracted many other top-class athletes including China’s Alex Hua Tian and Brazil’s Carlos Parro who have recently returned from representing their country at the Rio Olympic Games.
In the Intermediate (I) class, it was Kelsall Hill’s resident event rider Michael Owen who claimed victory with Jims Pal – a horse owned by his girlfriend Ashleigh Dean.
It was a last minute decision to run this 10-year-old gelding as his season was due to have ended after competing at Ballindenisk in Ireland.
“Jim had a few poles down at Ballindenisk as the ground conditions didn’t suit him in the show jumping so we decided to get a late entry at Kelsall Hill to give him a better experience on good going before he enjoys a holiday. He felt fantastic today so it was a decision that certainly paid off,” said Michael, who was the only competitor not to incur cross country time penalties in this section.
The journey from Warwickshire to Kelsall Hill was a trip worth taking for Sarah Parkes with placings in both the OI and I classes.
Sarah took third place in the OI with the ‘cross country machine’ Balladeer Durban Hills. This 11-year-old son of Seabrook has recently returned to top form after needing some time out due to undergoing treatment for kissing spines syndrome.
“Balladeer Durban Hills was rather mischievous in his dressage test but he jumped a great double clear. Kelsall Hill offers such inviting cross country courses at all levels and the ground was so perfect that I could put my foot down a bit.”
In the Intermediate class, Jane Starkey’s homebred mare Browning, ‘ate up’ Mark Phillips’ cross country track to finish in the runners-up position. Sarah took over the ride on this lovely mare earlier in the year and she would like to credit Jane Starkey for all the preparation she does at home.
Now in its tenth year, this event saw a record number of visitors who flocked to enjoy 3 days of equestrian sporting action along with the other attractions on offer such as Cheshire’s largest multi-species pet show ‘Pets on the Hill’.
Run by the Willows Veterinary Group, this event boasted a whole host of activities for canine ‘day-trippers’ while a plethora of more exotic creatures could also be found such as snakes, alligators and even the odd skunk!
Other highlights included a Macmillan Coffee Morning hosted by Kelsall Hill’s Emma Latham, while younger visitors could enjoy free face painting and drawing competitions.
Kelsall Hill’s next British Eventing Horse Trials will run from 21-23 April 2017 and don’t miss their fantastic Winter Arena Eventing Series running monthly from October – March 2017!
by Jon Lowe