The gelding led from start to finish, adding just 2.4 time faults to a dressage of 42.4.
“He’s quite an experienced horse now and he was very good in the dressage, although he was quite excitable in his canter,” said Alex who rode nine horses during the three days of competition.
“He was very good show jumping and cross country where you could really let them open up. He enjoyed himself today and its set him up perfectly for Blenheim where he runs in the ERM class,” he added.
A double of brush corners at fence 11 proved influential with several riders picking up penalties.
“You needed to ride very positively and confidently but its great to come to an event where the cross country is influential,” said Alex who was also sixth on Redpath Ransom.
In scoring the win, Bragg denied Emily King a hat trick of victories on her super talented mare Walitze F Vejgard, or Zara as she is known at home. Emily, who lives just ten minutes from the venue, said:
“I was hoping to take her to the Young Rider Europeans but unfortunately we had a fall at the last fence at the final trial. After that she won the ERM CIC2* at Barbury and a OIU21 at Wilton. She’s been a fantastic horse for me.”
The 20-year-old had already scored an impressive brace of wins with Dargun in the Chipmunk South West Ltd OIU21 and a novice section on the stallion Quinlan Z with the former finishing with 13.8 penalties in hand from second placed Georgia Bartlett on Spano De Nazca.
“Dargun is my top horse at the moment and next week he goes to Blair and then to Blenheim for the CCI3*. He’s a speedy horse naturally and very special. The stallion only started eventing this year, jumping his first cross country fence in February and has five babies that are really smart too. He’s so relaxed and so brave across country. ”
Third in the CIC2* was Pippa Funnell, riding organiser Helen West’s former ride MGH Grafton, who opted to go the longer route at the corners. Explaining the decision, the multiple medal-winning rider said:
“I’ve just come back from injury so he hasn’t run for a while. I want to take him to Blenheim so played it safe at that fence. Everywhere else he was fine.”
William Fox-Pitt collected the prize for the best seven-year-old, sponsored by Exeter Racecourse, riding Georgisaurus having won the Empire Coachbuilders Intermediate with Yes I Can.
With the cross country time in the Rathbones CIC* proving influential, Selina Milne’s 5.2 time penalties on Morelands Casanova still assured her the victory ahead of Chelsea Pearce on Djakota Eb who used the run as a stepping stone to intermediate.
“He’s taken a while to mature but he’s really coming into himself,” said Chelsea who has just finished her A’levels and will event full time before heading to university.
Georgina Hambly was third on Hilldown Harley and filling third and fourth spots was Kitty King who was kicking herself for rolling the last pole showjumping on both horses.
“We could have been first and second!” she said adding, “Drewmain Firefly has barely had a fence all year while Snow Wind SN jumped a really beautiful round and they were both super across country.”
Despite not winning, Kitty was over the moon to win the six-year-old prize, sponsored by Devon-based equine sales website Horse Pursuit.
“It’s a really fantastic prize. The Drewmain Stud is just ten minutes from my yard and I’ve known FIrefly since he was foal. He came to me to be broken as a three-year-old and he’s the first one they’ve kept. To win such a good prize will be very special to the stud’s owners Jane and Adrian Andrews.”
There were plenty of local winners over the three days of competition. Lifton’s Lizzie Luxton won the Redpost Equestrian BE100 on her own eight-year-old gelding Arkid, Alex Bragg scored in the Wyvern BE100 with Killahurler Connect; Cullompton’s Janou Bleekman, the recent team silver and individual bronze medalist at the Young Rider European riding Granntevka Prince, scored a one two in the Protexin BE100 Open on Sea Yin and Granite Lady; Modbury’s India John was victorious in the Protexin BE100U18 on Ballyhooly; Somerset riders Caroline Harris and Eliza Chapple headed the Leonard Coombe Novice with Isington Red Faerie and the Western Counties Equine Vets Novice U18 with Enzo Van De Nethe respectively; Hatherleigh’s Padraig McCarthy was in winning form on his wife Lucy’s former ride MGH Tokyo Phil in the John Bevan and Peter Appleford Novice and Cornwall’s Sarah Shaw won the intermediate novice with Aspiration III.
Summing up the three days, organizer Helen West said:
“It’s gone very smoothly thanks to the fantastic team, from the ground jury to the fence judges. There are so many people involved in making horse trials happen and without them, we couldn’t run. Beccy Barrett does an amazing job with sponsorship and social media, Gemma Cooke runs the dressage like clockwork, Matt Lynch is fantastic on the ground and his work with the verti drainer ensured the rain could really soak in, which prevented slippy conditions. This is the third horse trials here this year and we try to make it different each time and I’m really pleased with how everything has gone.”