What an amazing year it has been for British eventing with so many magical moments to remember. After some debate, we’ve come up with a shortlist of our favourites from individual and team professional success to inspiring causes encouraging more amateurs to give eventing a go. If one of these gets your support for most magical moment, you can vote for them in our poll. Or if we’ve missed your 2017 highlight out feel free to let us know in the comments section…
Nicholson clinches Badminton title
We have to start with Andrew Nicholson winning one of the most coveted trophies in the eventing world. Having completed Badminton a record holding 35 times, Andrew was still yet to get his hands on the Mitsubushi Motors trophy. After winning Burghley 5 times he was hungry to add the Badminton title to his tally, and at 55 years old Andrew must have been starting to question whether it would ever happen. Having missed the previous year’s competition due to recovering from a near career ending fall at Gatcombe in 2015, Andrew had high hopes this year with his faithful stalwart Nereo. Having stormed round an incredibly touch cross country in true Nicholson style it came down to the wire in the show jumping. Going into the show jumping in 3rd position, Andrew needed a clear to put pressure on Michael Jung and overnight leader Ingrid Klimke. Nereo’s immaculate round for just 1 time penalty meant those above him had little room for error. When Michael Jung lowered a pole with the wonderful La Biosthetique - Sam, the door to victory was opened a little wider and when poor Ingrid suffered a round to forget incurring 16 jumping penalties and 7 time penalties, victory belonged to Andrew and the wonderful Nereo!
Dzenis takes Burghley cross country by storm (was it storm Doris?!)
Harry Dzenis was the only rider at this year’s Burghley Horse Trials to ride two horses clear round one of the toughest cross country tracks in the world. Being drawn 4th to go on his first ride, Harry and his wonderful campaigner, the diminutive Xam, made a seriously big track look like pony club coming home clear with just 4.8 time penalties. After the glory of such a great round, reality loomed that he had to do it all again! With his second ride Dromgurrihy Blue, Harry used all his horsemanship to nurse him home clear with 26.8 time penalties. Harry went on to finish 11th and 25th respectively and we think Xam and Dromgurrihy Blue were given lots of SPILLERS treats that evening!
Great Britain is back on top
Under new management and the watchful eye of former coach of the all-conquering German team Chris Bartle, the British Eventing Team were full of positivity and high hopes for this year’s European Eventing Championships held in Strezgom, Poland. As with teams in all sports, there tends to be years of being unbeatable and moments were things just do not go your way and It had been a long 8 years since the British Team had been able to capture the team Gold medal. With a mixture of youth and experience, this year’s team were as hungry as ever to bring that Gold home. The cross country set a tough test, being a very tight and twisty track with unforgiving accuracy questions but the grit and determination of the British team shone through to head into the show jumping in Gold medal position with just two fences in hand over the German Team looming behind them. Three foot perfect rounds from Nicola Wilson, Ros Canter and Tina Cook meant that the Brits were back on top again!
The Wobbleberry Challenge
2017 saw the first running of the Wobbleberries Challenge, run in memory of the truly inspirational Hannah Francis raising money for her charity Willberry Wonder Pony which funds research into osteosarcoma and to provide equestrian experiences (“Willberry’s Wishes”) to seriously ill people. The Wobbleberry Challenge is aimed at (in their words not ours) middle aged wimpy riders who have not competed at a BE competition before. The aim is for riders to push themselves beyond their comfort zone and realise their dreams of competing at the next level up and raising money for the Willberry Wonder Pony charity in the process. The Wobbleberry Challenge has already raised a whopping £241,000 so far and this year even saw a 76 year old competitor complete their first BE event! If you fancy a challenge this year, why not sign up and help raise money for this wonderful charity in the process.
Townend on top at Burghley
As ever Burghley produced a magical start to the autumn eventing season and saw the leader board change dramatically throughout the competition. It started with eventing legend Mark Todd taking the lead after the dressage, what a fairy-tale it would have been if he were to win here for an incredible sixth time. But it was all change on cross country day, with problems spread around the course - Mark Phillips certainly set a true 4* test for competitors. Saturday saw the likes of Michael Jung, Zara Tindall and sadly Mark Todd bowing out of the competition leaving Oliver Townend at the top of the leader board on Saturday night. Show jumping clears were hard to come by and there was a big shuffle in the places during this phase. Piggy French, back after a year out having a baby, jumped an immaculate clear round to rise up the leader board and put pressure on Gemma Tattersall (2nd overnight) and Oliver. One rail down for Gemma meant Piggy moved up to 2nd place, Oliver could afford one fence down but not two. When Oliver hit one fence tension was high, when he crossed the line he picked up a time fault but managed to clinch victory by 1.3 penalties. At just 10 years old Ballaghmor Class was making his 4* debut but Oliver never doubted his young horses ability and boy did he look classy.
Viva la France for Bullimore
At Pau 4* in France, the last major event of 2017, Sarah Bullimore may have missed out on winning by an agonising 0.1 penalty but she proved she is major force to be reckoned with. Not only did Sarah ride three horses at Pau but she managed the incredible feat of riding all three clear cross country and all three finishing cross country day in the top ten! Reve Du Rouet paid back all of Sarah’s faith in him and delivered a result that he has promised so many times by climbing up to 3rd place, the tiny but oh so elegant Lilly Corrine flew round to sit in 8th place and finally Valentino sat in 10th place. On this occasion it was Reve Du Rouets time to shine, jumping an immaculate clear round show jumping to finish in 2nd place, so close to winning! Well done Sarah and her brilliant string of horses.
Now that you've seen our shortlist for magical eventing moment of 2017, it's time to vote for your favourite! We'll then share the results here and on our facebook page on Thursday 23rd November....
Well that’s it for 2017 and we hope all the horses and riders involved enjoy a well-deserved rest and we can’t wait until it all kicks off again in March 2018. Here’s a few dates for your diary so that you don’t miss out on some more magical eventing moments in 2018….
- Badminton Horse Trials – 2nd – 6th May 2018
- Burghley Horse Trials – 30th August – 2nd September 2018
- World Equestrian Games in Tryon, America – 11th – 23rd September 2018