ldht lives up to big reputation
“It’s the ideal competition,” said Joseph Murphy, who enjoyed a spate of successes at Little Downham Horse Trials (3) in Ely, Cambridgeshire. These included a win in Advanced section S with his experienced four-star mount Sportsfield Othello, as well as a fifth-place finish in Advanced R with Fernhill Frankie. Both horses will now head to the CCI4* at Pau in three weeks’ time.
It might seem like an odd decision for Murphy, who is based at home in Ireland, to make the long journey to the UK just to compete in a one-day event, but for Joseph, where Little Downham is concerned, it’s a no-brainer.
“From the horses’ perspective, it’s a fantastic event. It offers enough of a mixture of questions to test the horses’ confidence; most of the horses who come here for the Advanced sections will be in preparation for a three-day and will have had big runs earlier in the year, so you need a few big questions and some tight turns to test your preparation,” he explains.
But the balance between offering enough of a challenge and bolstering the horses’ confidence is a tricky one. As Joseph says, it comes down to: “always knowing what you’re going to get. The team at Little Downham always build a nice track and you know it’s never going to be trappy, and there are no hidden tricks. The ground is always very safe galloping ground, so you can let your horses run on a bit and work at a high cruising speed.”
When Joseph journeys to the UK for a three-day event, the planning and infrastructure have been in place for many months, but travelling over for a one-day is something of a different story, with less time to settle the horses and commitments back at home base to think of.
“The preparation definitely isn’t as easy as it is for a three-day,” he laughs. “It can sometimes be difficult for us to make our plans too far in advance, but that’s another reason I came here – the organisers are always really helpful and so accommodating to riders.”
Joseph was just one of an impressive line-up of top riders, who brought forward seasoned four-star mounts and exciting up-and-comers alike to contest the Advanced ahead of their autumn three-days. Gemma Tattersall, fresh off the back of her gold medal-winning team efforts in Tryon, brought three horses forward. Pamero 4, who made his Badminton debut this spring and finished second in Barbury’s Event Rider Masters leg, produced a classy clear for sixth in Advanced S. He’ll head to Pau with stablemate Santiago Bay, who finished second in Advanced R.
“Santiago Bay is honestly one of the best cross-country horses I’ve ever ridden,” enthused Gemma after her round on the ten-year-old Ars Vivendi mare. She also piloted the exciting eight-year-old Chilli Knight, one of her impressive string of homebreds by Chilli Morning, to 15th in Advanced S, in preparation for a trip to Strzegom.
“The course today has been really good, and it’s certainly caused enough excitement,” she said. “All three of my horses are exceptional cross-country horses, and even Chilli Knight stormed around it, despite being just eight. It was an educational course; if you were stepping up to Advanced you’d certainly find there was plenty to do, with some tough but fair questions, so as a prep run for these horses it was perfect.”
Izzy Taylor enjoyed a successful day in the office across the two Advanced sections, winning section R with Frog Rock and finishing third in section S, below Italy’s Vittoria Panizzon and her hugely experienced Borough Pennyz. In fourth, Alex Bragg enjoyed a quick clear round aboard new mount Alcatraz II, who looked very impressive throughout to add just 9.2 time penalties to his dressage score.
Plenty of flags were represented through the sections, as Chris Burton – dubbed ‘the fastest man in the world’ – brought forth Graf Liberty and Bahira M for Australia, Hallie Coon and Liz Halliday-Sharp flew the stars and stripes with Celien and Deniro Z, who head to Pau and Boekelo, respectively, and Zimbabwean representative Camilla Kruger piloted her Rio Olympics mount Biarritz II to a seventh place finish in section S. Brazilian Carlos Parro also made use of the three upper-level classes on offer during Monday’s competition, while New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson, who has frequented the event more than any other rider, brought a selection of younger horses as well as the experienced Teseo, who heads to Pau.
“It’s a good place to prepare for wherever you’re going next,” he explained. “The ground is always good and the courses are reliably well-built, so you’re not going to have any unpleasant surprises.”
Little Downham (3) offered a full gamut of opportunities for competitors across the levels, with classes from BE80(T) through to Advanced, and regional finals at both BE90 and BE100 on offer. The courses, designed by Jonathan Clissold and Tina Ure, offered a fair challenge at all levels, making use of the ground and changes in light and terrain to create a thinking man’s cross-country course.
Once again, Childeric Saddles stepped up as proud title sponsors, generously providing a breastplate to the rider closest to the optimum time at every level. The team behind the scenes were joined by an enthusiastic and experienced group of volunteers, with riders pitching in, too – Phoebe Buckley and Claire Fielding could be found stewarding the showjumping collecting ring at various times, while Simon Grieve enjoyed a first foray behind the microphone as a commentator following a stint as relief fence judge.
Little Downham Horse Trials returns in 2019 with three more jam-packed fixtures.
ldht saves best until last
As the British Eventing heads to the finish line, Ely Eventing Centre prepares to host the final Childeric Saddles Little Downham Horse Trials of the 2018 season. Hosting all levels of the sport in one fixture, the three-day fixture has something for everyone.
Organiser, owner and course designer, Tina Ure promises “educational and inviting courses at all levels, with appropriate alternatives where necessary.” Like the two previous fixtures the event also promises superb going thanks to the extensive preparation from the grounds team and the peaty soil of the Fens.
Ballot date for entries is this Saturday, 8th September, with a star studded line up already received. The newly crowned Land Rover Burghley Champion, Tim Price, makes the journey from Wiltshire to Ely with two rides in Monday’s Advanced, as does Event Rider Masters Series Champion Chris Burton. Following their sad withdrawal from Burghley, after the dressage, Australia’s Lissa Green brings 4* ride Hollyfield II to join the party.
Little Downham’s final event of the season will also crown the winner of the Protexin Equine Premium Grassroots Accumulator. The series has seen competitors accumulate points from all BE90 and BE100 sections in the two previous fixtures. Isabella Stagg currently tops the leader board with maximum points, but 2016 winner Joanne Watts is close behind on 18 points. The eventual winner will ride off with an end of season bonus of £500, plus a host of prizes from sponsors Protexin.
LDHT 2 GROUND PREPARATIONS
Given the prolonged hot and dry weather an extensive ground preparation plan has taken place at Ely Eventing Centre in order to provide the 550+ competitors with the best going possible. As part of these preparations every winter an Imants Shockwave Machine, a piece of equipment largely used in the racing industry, has been used to reduce the compaction in the ground and allow oxygen and water to get direct to the grass roots in order to stimulate growth.
All areas of the cross-country track at Little Downham have received over four inches of water in the past two weeks, and the team are now concentrating of the dressage and show jumping arenas, including both warm ups. The renowned peat soil in the Cambridgeshire fens is best kept irrigated to prevent it becoming dusty, however the British Eventing Aerovator will also be available to be used in the final 24hrs before competition starts. In most cases the water would evaporate in the extreme heat however due to the effects of the Shockwave machine water is more quickly absorbed into the ground, giving a greater benefit, increased grass growth and allowing the combination of irrigation and aerovation to create good summer ground.
All courses will follow a different route to that of the June event and will be educational and inviting with two water crossing, ditches and steps appropriate to each level.
little downham 2 is fast approaching
It may not seem like 5 minutes ago that we were in the final stretch for LDHT 1, but with our first of 3 2018 fixtures done and dusted it is onto the next. Entries open for our July event on the 16th June via www.bdwp.co.uk/lix
Our next event runs across the 21st - 22nd July with classes from BE80(T) to Novice, including the ever popular BE105. As an added bonus all start fees will be reduced to £10 for this event.
The BE80 classes are part of the new Devoucoux BE80 Eastern Region League , with prizes for each section and the overall series winner being awarded £500 in Devoucoux vouchers. As per the June event all BE90 and BE100 sections form part of the Protexin Equine Premium Grassroots Accumulator with an end of season prize pot of £1,500.
little downham (1) 2018
Entries are now closed and full for the first LDHT of 2018, with there being a waiting list available for the 5YO and NRF.
For 2018 we are excited to welcome back Childeric Saddles UK as our Title Sponsor, along with our season sponsors Baileys, Rossdales, Ames Nissan, Tigga's Saddlery, Lettergold and Protexin Equine Premium who are sponsoring our Grassroots Accumulator for the BE90/100.
We are also delighted to welcome Lycetts who will be in the hospitality tent by the water fence at the centre of the course, for owners, riders and spectators to enjoy some on course refreshments.
We would like to thank all of our fantastic volunteers for their wonderful support and help.
The cross-country schooling course is now CLOSED for the BE event until Monday 11th June. We may open for Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th before the Riding Club event on the 9th/10th.
Bookings can be made via www.elyeventing.simplybook.it
Following the prolonged wet weather the cross-country schooling course has had to remain closed for longer than anticipated. However, with the return of the sun and the warmer weather we are pleased to be able to re-open the schooling facilities on the 18th April.
The British Riding Club Area Qualifier due to take place on the 22nd April, has been postponed until the 29th April. Unfortunately this means that all schooling on the 29th April has been cancelled.
Course availability between 18th April and 7th June is as follows:
Wed 18th - Sat 28th April - OPEN
Sun 29th April - CLOSED for the BRC Area Combined Training
Mon 30th - Sun 13th May - OPEN
Mon 14th - Wed 6th June - CLOSED for BE Event
All bookings can be made via www.elyeventing.simplybook.it
2018 pre-season news
As the start of the 2018 season gets nearer, we are getting very excited for it to begin. In preparation for it we have our Cross Country Course available for hire from 5th February (weather dependant) and it will be fully open from 10th February. Weekends in February are reserved for groups working under instruction.
Groups/trainers looking to arrange training need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find the list of available clinics on the 'What's On' page.
We are pleased to confirm the return of Childeric Saddles UK as the Title Sponsor for the 2018 season and the return of the Protexin Accumulator ('News' for more information). Baileys are also returning to sponsor the Novice, as well as many other exciting sponsors to be confirmed soon, including some new ones.
childeric experience day 2018
We are delighted to announce that we are running a Childeric Experience Day on 18th March 2018.
You get a one on one session with Tina Ure in a fitted Childeric saddle followed by the use of the cross country course at your own pace.
£45 per person including course hire
protexin grassroots accumulator winners announced
In a series that went down to the wire, 4 joint winners have been announced as those to top the leaderboard in the Protexin Equine Premium Grassroots Accumulator. The 4 winners will split the cash prize pot and will all receive an award of £200 plus over £100 worth of Protexin products.
Those finishing in 2nd place will also receive a rosette and some goodies.