Wednesday 25th of November 2020
Willa Newton

Willa reflects on the latter part of the season

We catch up with Willa Newton as she rounds up a very successful 2017 season which included her best ever CCI placings at Bramham and Tattersalls and her first CCI** win at Hartpury.


Chance Remark at Burghley © Nico Morgan Media

The latter part of the season has definitely seen some ups and downs for team Newton. It was great to be back at Burghley, it has always been a special event to me as it’s our local and has always been a dream of mine to ride there.

I was thrilled with Austen in the dressage where we managed a mistake-free dressage to put us in the top 20 ahead of the cross country. He is not naturally a big moving horse so it is always important to get every mark we possibly can.

Cross country day sadly wasn’t to be though, Austen gave me a great spin up until the 8th minute where we had a miscommunication resulting in a couple of run outs. I felt very frustrated as the rest had felt so good but sometimes these things happen and when I look back I definitely wasn’t the only one. Austen jumped a great round on the Sunday to have just one down and I was thrilled with how he felt and had come out of the competition. I have definitely learned from this brilliant experience and will be working hard over the winter so we can put these frustrating errors behind us to hopefully get that four star placing in the bag next year!

It was then on to Gatcombe and Burnham market with the young horses for their final runs before Osberton. All horses managed to bring home a rosette with my gorgeous five year old Cock a Doodle Doo winning his first BE event, which was lovely for his owner Georgie Jelfs.

On to Blenheim

Blenheim came next and it was very exciting to be taking three horses. Moonlight Dance S was doing her fist CIC***, Neelix in The ERM and also Caja returning after her outstanding performance last year. It is never easy returning after winning the competition, especially after a slower summer with Caja not feeling quite on form.  So, although it was not the dream result we had hoped for, it was brilliant to have her back feeling a 100 per cent again, managing to sneak into the prizes in 15th and providing a great prep run for her end of season target at Boekelo. Moonlight Dance S gave me a brilliant feeling making the step up feel very easy and I am just hugely excited about what next season has in store for this lovely mare.

Moonlight Dance S © NAF Hartpury International

Neelix – What a Star

Last but not least, Neelix was just incredible at Blenheim. He just loves these ERM classes and felt amazing from start to finish. He did a great dressage, followed by a clear showjumping to lie in the top 10 going into cross country. He gave me the best ride he has ever given me. I am still furious with myself now as I managed to get the line wrong at the second last combination and touch the frangible pin on the way down, giving us 11 penalties. Poor Chip did not deserve this at all, as being one of the fastest rounds of the day, it ended up costing us fourth place. A very expensive mistake and I am just gutted for this amazing horse, who gave everything this weekend but at least he didn’t know he had done anything wrong. His runs are few and far between now so it was very sad not to get on the podium but what an incredible season he has had, finishing in the top 10 every time out (but for Blenheim) and not one pole down all year. He owes me nothing and is incredibly special to me – a horse of a lifetime whom I am incredibly grateful to.

The brilliant Osberton

Osberton was the last event for the young horses. It is a brilliant event and BEDE did a fantastic job in difficult conditions. All the young horses tried very hard as it is never easy for them when the ground is so wet. The star of the show was Cavatina Tinkerbelle who finished a great season, with a fantastic double clear and 10th in her first two star and the National Seven Year old Championships. It was so nice to have her owners Chris and Viv Prior there supporting, and I can’t wait for next year with this lovely little mare.  Moangarrif Duke also jumped a great double clear to finish 14th in his first international in the CICYH* while Champions Firecracker finished just outside the top 20 with a great performance.

Champions Firecracker at Osberton © Nico Morgan Media

The three five year olds also went very well and, but for a very frustrating and cheeky moment from Cock a Doodle Doo which cost us 3rd place, I was thrilled with how he coped with the atmosphere and hugely excited about him next season.

Off to Boekelo

It was then on to the last event of the season and off to Boekelo with Caja who felt in great form post-Blenheim. She did a great dressage to lie third of the Brits and 15th before xc with it all being very tight at the top.  In the cross country she gave me a brilliant feeling in ground that wouldn’t be her favourite but she absolutely flew through it until the tough last combination where she left a leg at the second part and I came flying out the front door.  Again having watched the replay I was very frustrated with myself as it was definitely a UR!!  I have to look at the positives and I am just so excited with the feeling she gave me and how easy she found it all. One of those things and I know that we will be back fighting again next year.

Although the end of the season has not been as good as we could have hoped for, there have definitely been some highs along the way. These include: my best ever CCI placings (at Tattersalls and Bramham in the Spring); Moonlight Dance winning her first CCI** – to give me my first CCI win; and Neelix having his best season and best CIC result (2nd at Hartpury) at the grand old age of 17. I have to say a huge thank you to my team at home, my owners and sponsors whom none of this would have been possible. THANK YOU! Lets hope 2018 can be even better. Onwards and upwards!!

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