It was a case of carrying on regardless at Midlands Driving Trials Group’s (MDTG) seasonal opener, held at Catton Park in April. Despite the rain, hail and endless mud, competitors and stewards kept going and managed to maintain a sense of humour throughout.
Everyone involved with driving trials are always indebted to generous landowners and this occasion was no exception. Robin and Kate Neilson exceeded the bounds of hospitality, not only lending the club a tractor to tow vehicles ONTO the lorry park, but Robin himself drove a second tractor to ensure competitors were able to leave as soon as they were packed up and ready to go. Kate also played her part by stewarding on one of the obstacles.
It really was a competition to remember and proved what a hardy (or foolhardy) lot we are! Ruth Auton, driving her lovely pair of Fell horses had a birthday she will never forget on the Saturday as she completed her dressage test in the most appalling hail storm. How ironic then that she was eliminated in the cones for incorrect axle width. Other eliminations in this phase included competitors driving cones backwards or missing them out altogether. A real case of ‘Should have gone to Specsavers’ as the phase had a strong influence on results.
Despite the conditions there were some close finishes although class winners did so with clear margins. In the Novice section Amanda Hawley had a comfort zone of over 25 penalties to lead Marion Lovelace and Julie Goodwin, the latter being less than two penalties behind Marion. In the Intermediates, Sara Clough was the lone survivor while Sue Corlett showed a clean pair of heels to her rivals in Open Pony after recording the only double clear in cones among the two-day competitors. Emily Bennett led the Open Horse while a superb performance by Geoff Kirby put him in second place, just 0.7 penalties ahead of Pam Neill. In the mixed pairs Gemma Smith came home in front of Wendy Wadsworth despite having to retrace part of the marathon route after she missed a flag.
The other multiple class had one pony tandem, three pony teams and two horse teams. Karen Bassett drove HC with her horses; she put on a great display of obstacle driving with Ray Aziz’s ponies but could not overcome the big ‘E’ in cones. Anne Chambers (tandem) kept in touch throughout to take the winner’s rosette with Julia Liles (pony team) in second and Julie Wedgebury’s game little Shetlands in third.
Megan Wheeldon was in a class of her own in Pre-Novice but showed signs of things to come with her new pony, driving a very competent and accurate dressage test. In the One-Day event, Dawn Tebbet, also driving a new pony, proved she will be a force to reckon with once again.
For full details of MDTG competitions, schedules, entry forms and results visit www.mdtg.co.uk or call 01630 661314.