May 2nd UA training event cancelled
We have taken the decision to cancel the UA Training Event that was publicised for the 2nd May.
Following a strong uptake of the BE Train To Event fixtures and a very busy coaching/schooling diary the cancellation will enable us to preserve the going for the Summer BE/FEI fixtures. We appreciate that this will be a disappointment for many.
Local venues, Horseheath and Gt Witchingham are both running UA ODEs on this date which should provide a useful alternative.
Little Downham to host rockingham replacement
Following the cancellation of Rockingham International Horse Trials, set to run in May, the organising teams at Little Downham (Cambs.) and Tweseldown (Hants.) are excited to announce their collaboration for additional fixtures, allowing the heretofore cancelled CCI2*-S and CCI3*-S classes to run alongside a smorgasbord of National classes.
This unique partnership centres around the debut of a compact and forward-thinking timetable, which will see these international classes run over the course of one day each. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Little Tweseldownham’, the competition will run on Thursday, May 20thand Friday, May 21stat Tweseldown, followed by two days of action at Little Downham over the 22ndand 23rdof May. Both venues will host the FEI classes and National classes, allowing each organising team to host smaller international sections and the ability to run all three phases on one day. This represents a unique opportunity for competitors to gain international experience and qualifying runs while cutting the cost per run – and the associated biosecurity risk of on-site stabling – considerably.
“Like so many owners I had been looking forward to watching my horses compete at the stunning Rockingham Castle,” says Little Downham organiser Tina Ure, who created the concept. “I am grateful to British Eventing for endorsing this joint bid with Tweseldown and our innovative timetable that will enable both professional and amateur riders the opportunity to complete a CCI-S in one day. I have shared the frustration of many owners and riders about the additional expenses often incurred to compete at this level and welcomed the opportunity to try something different. Working with Rachael [Faulkner] at Tweseldown is a new collaborative venture aimed at maximising the competition opportunities for all despite the difficulties caused by the Coronavirus and EHV-1.”
Little Downham stepped in at the last minute to host the same fixture in 2012 when Brigstock cancelled, prior to the fixture being reinstated at Rockingham Castle. Tweseldown, as a venue, has a long history of hosting international fixtures dating back to the Olympic equestrian events in 1948. This fixture will, however, mark the first modern-era FEI fixture at the Hampshire venue.
“Tina Ure has been championing the idea of an all-in-one day CCI for ages, but it has taken Covid for it to come to the fore,” says Rachael Faulkner, Managing Director of Tweseldown. “I am thrilled that Tweseldown, sponsored by Lucinda Green XC Academy, will be sharing the FEI and National classes with the Childeric Little Downham Horse Trials.”
The revived fixture has attracted much praise from both professional and amateur international level competitors.
Suffolk-based New Zealand Olympian Caroline Powell commented: “This new format is a much needed and long-awaited development and could be just what’s needed to help revive and lift the sport. Keeping the costs low and limiting the need for on-site stabling will make the FEI classes more
accessible for new competitors and makes it more financially viable for professional riders and owners.”
Bristol-based professional rider Alexander Whewall said: “Rockingham was a key fixture for me with the younger 3* horses, so it’s really good to see it’s being replaced. As a professional rider running a smaller operation, the CCI events can get expensive for me, as they require longer periods of time away and therefore increased staff costs to cover the horses at home. Having a choice of locations with good ground and organisation is really good. The real bonus will be getting the CCI done in one day. That is going to be a benefit to a lot of people and we’re really keen to see how it will work.”
Amateur 5* competitor and full-time working vet Katie Preston also supported the initiative: “Being able to do a CCI3*-S in one day, at the weekend, would be a big advantage to those of us who have to juggle annual leave. By the time you’ve factored in three days off for a spring and autumn long-format, and then the time off for four to five short formats in a season, it doesn’t leave you any days for an actual holiday. On-site stabling is so expensive that I will often look for local stabling and drive in each day. This format would really reduce the costs and hassle for a large number of riders.”
A full schedule will be published in due course and entries will open mid April.
PLANNED REOPENING - MARCH 29TH
Following a long period of closure we're pleased to be reopening from the 29th March, subject to the success of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.
The current plan to reopen will see Little Downham host the first in a new eventing format for British Eventing, the Try Eventing Day. This offers riders the chance to ride a showjumping course on course that is immediately followed by a full cross-country round. The cross-country fences will be set at 80cm, 90cm and 100cm with riders able to select the appropriate height for them, and their horse, at each element.
We hope that this format will enable the maximum number of horses and riders to make use of the cross-country facilities whilst still adhering to Covid protocols. Medical teams and a vet will be onsite as per British Eventing rules. This format will be repeated in an Unaffiliated format on Saturday 3rd April.
Following the 29th March the course will be available for those coaching clinics, with individual schooling limited to a set calendar of days.
The full calendar, and booking details, can be found via our What's On page.
britain's leading ladies claim 4* victory
Piggy March and Laura Collett reigned victorious at the Childeric Saddles Little Downham International CCI4*-S, claiming a section each after an action-packed second day at the Ely Eventing Centre.
March added a fourth international victory to her 2020 tally, taking Section P with John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn’s Brookfield Quality. She moved up from fourth place after dressage to the eventual win after adding just four time penalties across the country to a first-phase score of 29.2, giving the horse his first four-star win on just his second start at the level.
“I was delighted with Brookfield Quality,” she said. “I have to get my brave pants on with him because he’s a big-striding horse and he’s not very easy to adjust, and so to go fast has taken us a few runs together. I can’t afford to make mistakes on him, so I really have to get myself in gear and make sure I’m on my A-game.”
For March, the influential Jonathan Clissold track – which saw a 62% clear rate across the sections – will have played a crucial role in the development of the 11-year-old gelding.
“He’s a big, scopey horse with lots of stride, and he really wants to do the job – but he’s still fairly inexperienced at this level, so I was just delighted with how he went and how confident he’s finished this round,” she said. “This track, I think, is brilliant – you really have to get stuck in. It’s very educational for them but you’ve got to make it happen. There’s lots of questions out there and it’s beefy enough. I’m just delighted with him – winning was a bonus today.”
March enjoyed a successful two days aboard her three other rides, taking second place in section P with the former Emily King ride Dargun, who added 12.8 time penalties, and second in section Q with Brookfield Inocent – the only horse to finish inside the time – and third with Fonbherna Lancer.
Laura Collett took section Q aboard her own, Karen Bartlett, and Keith Scott’s London 52. Like Piggy, she added just four time penalties to her first-phase score – a 24.4 that saw her lead from pillar to post. This win marks a final run before the eleven-year-old gelding – who also won Boekelo CCI4*-L and Chatsworth’s Event Rider Masters leg in 2019 – makes his CCI5* debut at Les 5 Etoiles de Pau in a fortnight.
“All year – even through lockdown – he’s felt like a totally different horse,” she said, recalling to the mid-season blips that marked his record before his end-of-season victory last year.
“The best thing that could have happened was being able to take him to Boekelo – I just felt like we both needed it. We put it to bed and he’s come out stronger, both physically and mentally. He just feels phenomenal – I actually get goosebumps, I’m so lucky to ride him. I have to pinch myself!”
Collett, too, was full of praise for the track, which gave competitors a chance to tackle questions of a similar technicality and feel to 2020’s only CCI5* at Pau.
“I walked the course here and thought the ground was great on cross-country and there were a lot of questions. It was really nice because, to put the horses to one side, I felt like I hadn’t really got stuck in and ridden a proper course this year,” she said. “I was really glad that it had a real Pau-type feel with skinnies on mounds and blind turns and really committed distances. It was so nice to get stuck in and have nice rides around. It made you think as a rider, and they did a phenomenal job to put it on and build such a cracking course.”
Collett also finished fifth in this section aboard Mr Bass, who joins London 52 in heading to Pau in two weeks’ time. Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden, one of Britain’s most successful young four-star partnerships, narrowly beat them to finish fourth, inspiring plans for a long-awaited five-star debut.
Despite the challenges of international eventing in a pandemic, the CCI4*-S hosted a global field, with Ireland’s Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue finishing third in section P and Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto and Brookpark Vikenti finishing fourth. British team stalwart Harry Meade rounded out the top five in this section with the inexperienced but exciting Cavalier Crystal.
Little Downham’s autumn CCI4*-S fixture was run behind closed doors in accordance with government regulations this year, but the organising team – headed by Tina Ure – looks forward to welcoming spectators to this exciting new addition to the calendar next year
NAtional classes abandoned - tuesday
It is with great regret that we announce the abandonment of national level classes at the Childeric Saddles Little Downham International Horse Trials on October 6, 2020.
Following dry weather on Monday, all areas of the site had dried significantly, almost to miracle standards. Sadly, further rain was received in the early hours of this morning which has compromised the lorry park. The going on and access to the CCI4*-S competition areas remains good and we will continue with these classes as planned.
PIGGY MARCHES TO A DOUBLE 4* LEAD
Piggy March has taken a decisive lead in the Childeric Saddles Little Downham International CCI4*-S on the first day of dressage, taking top spot in both sections and holding fort in the top five with each of her four rides.
77 horse-and-rider combinations produced tests for the assembled ground jury today across sections P and Q. Riding the syndicate-owned Dargun, March delivered a 26.4 to lead the way in section P, which was presided over by judges Nikki Herbert and Richard Baldwin. Her strong mark was most closely challenged by Kitty King and her 2019 Bramham winner Vendredi Biats, who end the day on 27.3 after a clean test punctuated by some minor cheeky moments.
“We had a few little wobbles and some basic mistakes – and he was quite spooky about the flowers and the wind,” she says. “But on the whole, I was pleased enough in the conditions. I’ve entered here for a bit of experience with this horse; it’ll be our first time at the level together, so I’ll be interested in how our day goes while still trying to be competitive. It’ll be building blocks, but we’ll give it a good go!”
March also sits fourth ahead of tomorrow’s jumping phases with the relatively inexperienced Brookfield Quality, owned by John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn, who posted an impressive 29.2 to redeem himself after some green mistakes in his test at last month’s Burnham Market CCI4*-L.
“We call him Nervous Norris at home, because he’s a bit of an odd character,” she laughs. “I was really happy with him today. He’s a new horse at the level – a lovely horse with fabulous movement – and his changes were a bit green today, which was the only disappointing thing about the test. The whole weekend is a learning experience for him, and we’ll hopefully have a fun day tomorrow.”
Ever the pragmatist, March wryly muses: “At least I halted square with this one – I didn’t with the other horses!”
She was usurped for third place by former student and young Irish talent Susie Berry, who produced a 28.3 with Helen Caton’s John the Bull, formerly ridden by Jonty Evans, while Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto and his Blenheim runner-up Brookpark Vikenti round out the top five overnight on 29.9.
“I’m thrilled with him – he has it all there, but that’s the first time I’ve had it all together in the ring,” says Berry. “I’ve put quite a lot of pressure on him, because he’s been so competitive at the level below. At the last two four-stars we’ve had some silly mistakes – mainly me! – but this time, we had a clear round.”
While Section P will head directly into showjumping tomorrow morning, a further twenty combinations will come forward to present a test to judges Ann Bostock and Judy Hancock in Section Q tomorrow – though here, too, March’s domination of the first phase will be tough to overthrow. She sits in first and second place here, taking the lead with John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn’s Brookfield Inocent on 25 and sitting second aboard the Lancer Stud’s Fonbherna Lancer, who scored a 26.2.
Kazuma Tomoto finds himself in the top five once again in Section Q, earning a respectable 30.2 with Bernadette Utopia for third, while Australia’s Kevin McNab holds fourth on 31.9 with the Pau-bound Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend after revising his warm-up tactic with the ‘big but anxious’ gelding.
“His Burnham Market test wasn’t his best, and we’d been trying something new there – we experimented with doing a bit less and keeping him a bit fresher going in,” he explains. “But for a big horse, he does get a bit anxious, and so now we’re back to the original plan and just letting him do a little bit more so he can settle into it.”
Eliza Stoddart and Priorspark Precocious sit in overnight fifth on 32. Tomorrow’s morning dressage session will see several exciting names vie for a competitive slot atop the leaderboard, including Ireland’s Cathal Daniels and Dr Sarah Hughes’ Barrichello, Laura Collett and her two Pau-bound stars Mr Bass and London 52, and young talent Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden. Dressage will recommence at 8.30 a.m., with showjumping under way from 8:15 a.m. and cross-country starters’ orders at 9.00 a.m. The pivotal cross-country phase, designed by Jonathan Clissold, will be live-streamed in its entirety by Horse&Country TV.
NATIONAL CLASSES ABANDONED - MONDAY
It is with great regret that we announce the abandonment of national level classes at the Childeric Saddles Little Downham International Horse Trials on October 5, 2020 after two initial, successful days of competition. Tomorrow’s partial abandonment marks the first cancellation of any competition in twenty years of running events at the venue, and the Little Downham team has every intention of running the National and International classes on October 6 as planned.
Following continuous rainfall and a subsequent extensive ground inspection, the decision to pull national classes from Monday’s schedule was deemed necessary in order to allow for the best possible chance of running the remaining classes on the schedule. The course plan for tomorrow’s national classes – which cover Novice and Intermediate levels – dictated their withdrawal from the schedule, as their location would have required competitors to cross the tracks used for Tuesday’s CCI4*-S, creating potentially dangerous areas of depth in isolated patches of the latter class’s course.
A new addition to Britain’s FEI calendar, the CCI4*-S class serves as an essential chance to gain a qualifying result ahead of the 2021 season, as well as providing an opportunity for a final preparatory run before this month’s CCI5*-L at Les 5 Etoiles de Pau. It is of utmost importance that optimal conditions are provided, despite the best efforts of the weather, in order to minimise risk to horses and riders.
The CCI4*-S dressage will go ahead as planned on Monday, making use of previously unused areas of the venue, and will be followed by a subsequent thorough inspection of the grounds ahead of Tuesday’s competition. The class will benefit from a relocated showjumping warm-up area on fresh ground, while the competition arena has been enlarged and fences moved to allow for improved conditions in this phase. The cross-country track remains on almost wholly untouched ground, and will benefit from a drying day tomorrow before its use on Tuesday.
The grounds team remains fully committed and has every confidence in their ability to run the CCI4*-S class and Tuesday’s national classes in their entirety. The Ely Eventing Centre benefits from historically fast-draining footing, and the assembled on-site team continues to make every possible provision for a safe and successful final two days of competition.
FINAL CALL FOR LITTLE DOWNHAM ENTRIES
With ballot date for the Childeric Saddles Little Downham International Horse Trials looming the event prepares for its inaugural CCI4*-S fixture this October.
The fixtures offer competition for all levels of eventing with a full range of classes from BE80(T) to CCI4*-S, showing just how inclusive both the sport and the event are. Ballot date is Tuesday 15thSeptember at 12 noon and riders are encouraged to enter prior to this time.
The timetable of classes has been worked to allow competitors the best level of access to classes, not only at Little Downham but taking other events running at the same time into consideration.
“I am really looking forward to Little Downham International, especially now it has a 4 star. It is fab that I can take all the young horses as well as my top horses and it is supported by my wonderful long-term sponsors Childeric. The courses are always tough but fair and they always look after the ground so well. I have 2 special horses entered for the big class and I can’t wait to give it a good crack! "commented British Olympian, and Childeric Saddles brand champion, Gemma Tattersall.
The venue’s July and August fixtures received much praise in regard to the slick and safe running of the events, management of the warmup areas and the going. With Grade 1 peat soil, Little Downham is confident in delivering the very best going and will utilise all of the space available to them to deliver different courses and tracks for the different levels. Volunteers and officials also praised the event for being among the leaders in the technical revolution of the sport, embracing their own judging app development to minimise contact points and further the sustainability for the future of the sport.
“Our national level events in July and August ran very smoothly and we’re hoping for a repeat this October. We invested heavily in our new 4* track, along with other areas of the course, over the winter and we’re just pleased to be able to keep running in this difficult and turbulent time. We’re very much hoping that riders of all levels will support this fixture and enable up to finish the season on a high.” – Tina Ure, landowner and organiser at Little Downham.
With sport still running behind closed doors spectators will be unable to attend. The event is therefore delighted to confirm that the feature CCI4*-S class, along with the national level Advanced, Intermediate, Intermediate Under-21 and Novice classes, will be live streamed via Horse & Country TV on Monday 5thand Tuesday 6thOctober.
“It is really important to us to showcase what the sport has to offer and give some additional exposure to our loyal, and new, sponsors. We’re therefore delighted to be working with Horse & Country TV to offer a livestream service for all of the cross-country on Monday and Tuesday of the event.” Sarah Skillin, Marketing & Media Manager for the event.
All entries taken via www.britisheventing.com
little downham international - entries open!
Entries for the Childeric Saddles Little Downham International Horse Trials opened today as the event prepares for its inaugural CCI4*-S fixture this October.
The fixture offers competition for all levels of the sport with a full range of classes from BE80(T) to CCI4*-S, showing just how inclusive both the sport and the event are.
The timetable of classes has been worked to allow competitors the best level of access to classes, not only at Little Downham but taking other events running at the same time into consideration. Those looking to compete in the Intermediate, Advanced and CCI4*-S on Tuesday and concerned with a potential overlap with Thoresby trot up and dressage can be assured that the sectioning, timetabling and times will allow riders to compete at both events, without compromise.
The venue’s July and August fixtures received much praise in regard to the slick and safe running of the events, management of the warmup areas and the going. Volunteers and officials also praised the event for being among the leaders in the technical revolution of the sport, embracing their own judging app development to minimise contact points and further the sustainability for the future of the sport.
“Little Downham is always part of our eventing plan, it’s one of those events where you’re guaranteed good going and good courses all year round. With so many changes of plans this year and so many cancellations I’m looking forward to taking Ivar Gooden to tackle their new 4* track. I just feel that supporting our UK based events this season is incredibly important for our sport and reducing our international travel is a safer option for our team” commented 5* rider Imogen Murray.
Little Downham benefits from exceptional ground conditions, all year round, with their grade 1 peat soil. All cross-country courses will be different to those used in the July and August fixtures, with the CCI4*-S being subtly different to the Advanced track to provide the correct level of difficulty. All tracks are up to height and substantial but with lots of alternatives at the more challenging fences. The event aims to provide educational and inviting courses at all levels.
Riders are encouraged to enter as early as possible to enable the event to plan effectively. Ballot date is set for the 15thSeptember at 12 noon, with all entries taken via www.britisheventing.com
XC SChooling Course
The cross-country schooling course will be remaining closed for independent schooling for the foreseeable future.
The course is available for hire for clinics and private coaching. Please keep an eye on our 'What's On' page for clinics, events and teaching days.