Louise Kai­holm drives to vic­tory in the ad­vanced pony pairs

The de­fend­ing four-horse driver clings to the ti­tle, Phillipa Howe is com­pen­sated for Eu­ro­peans dis­ap­point­ment and a for­mer trot­ter shines

Horse & Hound - - Con­tents - By SARAH RAD­FORD

ONE of the clos­est overnight leader­boards in re­cent mem­ory meant a tense con­clu­sion for the horse fours, but Wilf Bow­manRi­p­ley re­tained his ti­tle with some pre­ci­sion cones driv­ing.

Tough ground con­di­tions on the marathon had caused some ex­pen­sive glitches for Wilf, al­low­ing the other com­peti­tors to close in dra­mat­i­cally on his dres­sage lead, leav­ing just 0.63 of a penalty sep­a­rat­ing the top three driv­ers go­ing into the fi­nal day.

Ly­ing in third, marathon win­ner Ge­orge Bow­man IV’s chance of the ti­tle slipped away when he added four cones and

8.11 time-penal­ties to his score, drop­ping him down a place be­low Pippa Bas­sett.

In with his clos­est shot at the ti­tle to date, last year’s re­serve cham­pion Dan Naprous also had an ex­pen­sive round, adding four cones but com­plet­ing inside the time with his Lip­iz­zaner team.

Usu­ally re­li­able in this phase, Wilf didn’t dis­ap­point, and was un­lucky to tip just the one ball in an oth­er­wise im­mac­u­late round to clinch vic­tory by 9.29 penal­ties.

“We’ve seen a lot of tech­ni­cal cones cour­ses that have ended up hav­ing more weight than the marathon, but this one was a nice and flow­ing course and I was sur­prised there weren’t more dou­ble clears,” said Wilf.

In­ter­mit­tent heavy thun­der­storms had posed a chal­lenge for driv­ers through­out the week­end, hav­ing an im­pact on both the dres­sage and the marathon.

“I did my worst test all year. The first half was fine but then the rain started com­ing side­ways,

some­one put an um­brella up and the horses shot to the mid­dle of the arena. For­tu­nately, the rain was so bad I don’t think the judges could see!” said Wilf, who also notched up 10 penal­ties in the fourth marathon ob­sta­cle when he had to put a groom down.

“We weren’t at­tack­ing the haz­ards be­cause of the ground, the lead­ers started back­ing off and that meant a lack of steer­ing,” he said. “I went to do a turn and the wheel­ers ran up the lead­ers and lifted the pole. As it came back down we got a trace over the post and were stuck for a bit.”


PHILLIPA HOWE might have had to forgo her place at the world pony cham­pi­onships in Ger­many when Bri­tain was able to send only in­di­vid­u­als, rather than a team, but she was com­pen­sated with a vic­tory in the ad­vanced sin­gle pony, clock­ing the fastest marathon of the com­pe­ti­tion.

“I was hun­gry com­ing here and in a good frame of mind as I had noth­ing to lose,” said Phillipa, who re­turned to the sport two years ago af­ter a break. “It was a shame to not be on a team with mum [Sara Howe], but we’ll carry on and try again in two years.”

Phillipa’s 13-year-old Welsh sec­tion C Sox was owned by her grand­mother Leonie Mar­shall un­til Thurs­day, when Phillipa bought him for £1.

“He was never meant to be an ad­vanced pony, I orig­i­nally bor­rowed him only to get [my] three-star FEI qual­i­fi­ca­tion,” she said. “He’s small, at 13hh, but so com­pact and strong. Be­cause he is so well bal­anced and cor­rect I don’t need to be think­ing about him, he looks af­ter him­self.”

The Brad­bourne sta­bles aced th­ese cham­pi­onships, with Phillipa’s mother Sara head­ing the pony fours and

Sarah McLaugh­lin, who usu­ally back­steps for her, win­ning the novice pony.

“We’ve also had our vet Anna White groom­ing and Phillipa’s part­ner Dan Fo­ley has been shoe­ing here,” said Sara.

It was a sev­enth vic­tory in nine years for the Kent driver, who had been in two minds about con­test­ing the na­tion­als af­ter Min­den.

“I was swayed be­cause of Sarah [McLaugh­lin] and Phillipa com­pet­ing. If I’d only have come to watch I’d have been a night­mare,” said Sara, who now runs her orig­i­nal team of ch­est­nut Welsh sec­tion As mixed in with grey ponies for­merly owned by Tim Brad­ford.

Dan­ish driver Louise Kai­holm be­came the first per­son to take the open pony pairs and then the ad­vanced sec­tion in con­sec­u­tive years as she drove her Dart­moor hill ponies to a 14.6-penalty win in the lat­ter.

Louise be­gan driv­ing in Den­mark be­fore com­ing over to the UK to learn English and she has been based at the Char­i­ots of Fire Eques­trian Cen­tre in Locker­bie ever since.

“They've taken re­ally well to the chal­lenge this year,” she said of her Dart­moor team. “I thought they might strug­gle with the col­lec­tion and ex­ten­sion in the ad­vanced dres­sage test but they’ve coped well.”


JOHN RIPLEY got his cam­paign for next year’s world sin­gles cham­pi­onships off to a se­cure start as he headed the ad­vanced sin­gle horse, which was also the open­ing se­lec­tion event.

It was a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive ti­tle in this class for John and the classy 11-year-old Born Painted, who is by the Dutch dres­sage

stal­lion Painted Black. They fin­ished ahead of Frank Camp­bell, with wins in the dres­sage and cones and a marathon third.

“We had a cou­ple of dres­sage mis­takes which cost us three or four marks, so I didn’t get my 45-penalty tar­get which is where we need to be to be up with the top driv­ers in­ter­na­tion­ally,” said John. “The marathon con­di­tions weren’t ideal for my type of horse who likes good go­ing — the ob­sta­cles were tight and it was heavy, which takes a lot out of them.”

In only their sec­ond sea­son con­test­ing na­tion­als, Stephen Wil­liams and his Lip­iz­zan­ers marked them­selves as ones to watch when they topped an ex­pe­ri­enced field in the open horse pairs.

“A friend of mine is Hun­gar­ian and he in­tro­duced me to driv­ing three years ago,” said Stephen, who was also Fenix driver of the year in his cat­e­gory af­ter three na­tional wins this sea­son.

“We’ve al­ways been horsey — my daugh­ter Jade who is groom­ing for me here showjumps — but the driv­ing is new. We’re not pol­ished yet but it’s all started to click into place.”

David Whit­field also crowned an ex­cep­tional sea­son when he laid down a blis­ter­ing marathon to head the open horse with Sham­rock Sam.

“We’re lucky to have a small horse with a big en­gine. Nor­mally we can let him go but in th­ese con­di­tions you had to hold back and drive with your brain,” said David. “Even be­ing care­ful we hit a tree root in num­ber seven and slid out. The car­riage came up in the air and I was bounced right onto the edge of the seat.”

The nine-year-old trotter, who was bought for £400, has stepped up to the level well, win­ning ev­ery qual­i­fier and the open cham­pi­onship in­doors be­fore also head­ing ev­ery out­door event he con­tested.

“The trot­ters are nor­mally just used for the marathon as most don’t take to this game. He had to learn to can­ter this year [for the open dres­sage test] — he’s a square-gaited trotter and to get one of those to can­ter is very dif­fi­cult,” David added.

Af­ter giv­ing up and sell­ing off his pony team, Gary Power “got his mojo back” when he re­turned this sea­son with a pony pair and went on to take the open ti­tle.

Com­bin­ing his for­mer team leader Chevet Taffy Spencer with new re­cruit Brenig Si­mon — both Welsh sec­tion Ds — he headed the dres­sage and marathon with enough of an ad­van­tage to for­give an 18.31-penalty cones.

“Bren was only bro­ken to drive

at Christ­mas and has done just the three shows, so they are still very in­ex­pe­ri­enced as a pair and not quite good enough for the cones yet,” said Gary. “They need to learn to take you for­ward a bit more but they did three solid phases and

I’m re­ally pleased with them.”

Ni­cola Blandin was also thrilled to take a win, with tri­umph in the open sin­gle pony with the 16-year-old Ger­man rid­ing pony Ba­boo. The “quite dif­fi­cult” mare came from France af­ter be­ing driven in a pair but proved too much for her owner.

“I got her from a friend as she can be a bit of a hot-head,” said Ni­cola. “At the be­gin­ning of the year we weren’t sure she’d even com­pete as she was hav­ing physio and needed quite a bit of TLC.

“She’s had to learn to do the job, to bal­ance her­self and take sole re­spon­si­bil­ity for the car­riage,” she added.

The ad­vanced horse pairs went to David Matthews, who looked on form for the up­com­ing world pairs cham­pi­onships in Lipica with wins in the first two phases.

Bri­tish Car­riagedriv­ing Na­tional Cham­pi­onships, Cirences­ter Park, Glos Wilf Bow­man-Ripley clinches the horse fours ti­tle in chal­leng­ing con­di­tions

Phillipa Howe and Sox take the ad­vanced sin­gle pony

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