The early Summer highlight and one of the biggest fixtures in the British Eventing calendar, behind the two most famous ‘B’s’ Badminton and Burghley.
This season all three of the Young Eventer’s Programme riders made the trip up to Yorkshire, or for 2 of them made the journey to one of their most local events, to take part in the jewel in the June crown. For one it was the highlight of their career, for the others it was an event to learn from.
“Bramham has to be my career highlight so far” commented Kristina Hall-Jackson. “CMS Google tried her heart out for me all week and it was very special to finish in the top 10 (of the main CCI4*-L) with a horse I’ve produced myself.”
Over the course of the event, mentor Pippa Funnell worked with Kristina, and the other riders, to help them get the best out of their horses. For Kristina this meant additional support with the dressage phase.
“Google finds dressage difficult, but we are training hard in this phase, and she is improving all the time. Pippa (Funnell) helped me over the first few days with Google’s dressage and did improve her way of going. She went on to do some beautiful trot and canter work but found the walk a little too exciting which was costly, but after the test Pippa and I discussed a plan to help stop this from happening in the future.”
Kristina and Google produced a text book cross-country ride, around Ian Stark’s infamous cross-country track which demands both bravery, accuracy and stamina, to complete with just 2.8-time penalties which enabled them to move from 42nd to 15th on the leaderboard. A clear show jumping round on the final day say Kristina finish in 6th place – a career best at the level.
“I was over the moon with the result and now very excited to have Burghley in plan for our next big event. Pippa’s help walking the courses and in the dressage was invaluable and I’m so grateful to be on the Wesko Foundation Programme.”
There were mixed emotions for Harry Mutch, who on one hand had three horses competition at the feature 4* fixture, which is a huge achievement in its own right. Thanks for additional support on-site from Pippa he delivered a new personal best dressage, of 33.3, with HB Bronze to leave him in contention for the U25 Championship title.
“I walked the cross-country and thought the track would really suit him, it was a big attacking track which would suit him perfectly! He started the cross-country fantastically and felt so rideable, making light work of the early combinations. We unfortunately only got to the first water where he jumped in great and got to the middle element almost too easy, resulting in us getting too deep and landing on the box and me having such a frustrating fall. I’ve watched it back a few times and it’s one of those things unfortunately and we will move on.”
Harry’s other riders, Shanbeg Cooley and HD The One are both new to the 4* level and as such were contesting the CCI4*S. Both producing green but pleasing dressage tests and jumping well in the show jumping. Unfortunately Shanbeg Cooley picked up a late 20-penalties on the cross-country owing to Harry feeling the effects of his earlier fall.
“Last to go was HD The One and with how the day had been going with a fall on my first ride, a run out on my second, I was thinking this is going great as I’m about to take the least experienced horse out for his first 4*!! He left the start box and just felt like a total pro! He tackled every combination wanting to get through the flags and tried so hard for me! He finished clear with 3.2 time and didn’t feel like I was riding him fast! He’s really shown over that weekend what a talented horse he is and even more special that I’ve produced him from a 3-year-old so really means a lot to me to get that result on him.”
The rollercoaster continued for Emma Thomas, who had, like many, been building up the U25 Championship all season and felt the surreal moment of finally getting to the event she had worked so hard for. For Emma one of the high points of the Bramham experience was competing alongside her Young Riders Programme team mates.
“I unfortunately had a fall off my short format horse in the show jumping. It was just one of those times when you and the horse completely misread each other. Pippa literally picked me up and gave me a great pep talk, making sure I felt ok to ride cross country in the long format. I’m so glad I did decide to run as my cross-country round at Bramham was one of the best moments of my entire career. It is the toughest track I have ever ridden, and my wonderful horse made it feel easy. We unfortunately had a slide out at an easy combination four from the finish, but I have come away knowing that he will be more than capable of going around a 5* cross-country track. We have come up the grades together and we are still teaching each other at this level, each time at 4* long is a new frontier for us. So, while I was gutted not to go clear, I was pleased with how we both performed and the potential that is there for next time.”
“One of my favourite things about this sport has always been the feeling of community and support, especially at the higher levels. It’s an individual sport that has such incredible team spirit. Taking positives from failures is an essential skill in any sport, but especially eventing. I have come away with two sound horses and we will come back better because of it.”
Many of the Wesko riders now look towards the September highlights of Blenheim and Burghley.