The European Young Riders Eventing Championship reached its exciting climax at Blair Castle yesterday with the British team winning gold and Willa Newton,from Leicestershire, winning an individual silver medal.
In a tense showjumping finale in the international arena with the stunning backdrop of Blair Castle, the young riders from Britain held their nerve to hold off a challenge from the Irish team. Willa Newton and her horse Neelix and Tom McEwan and Private Rudolf both showjumped clear to finish in second and fourth respectively. Fife based Wills Oakden and Button Clover was unlucky to have three showjumps down to add 12 penalties to his overnight score and drop him to 13th individually. Final team member who got off to such a great start after the dressage, Dani Evans and Uchin picked up 42.8 penalties on Saturday and a further four yesterday to drop to 32nd and become the discard score.
However their combined efforts were enough to give them a total of 169.2 points, nearly nine points ahead of second placed Ireland with the German team taking bronze.
Individual gold went to Freya Fullgraebe and Oje Oje of Germany while individual bronze was awarded to Irish rider David Hannigan and Red Baron.
Great Britain has a great record in this competition having won team gold six out of the last seven years and sharing it with Germany last year.
New Zealander Andrew Nicholson finished on his dressage score of 50.4 on Calico Joe to win the Barclays Wealth CCI three star class. This horse, along with Shady Grey on which he came fourth are both owned by four or five people who call themselves the Twenty Twelve In Mind Syndicate and are doing their best to make sure Andrew has the horse power to get on the Olympic team.
Event organiser, Beanie Sturgess from Wiltshire came second in this class riding her own Lebowski, they also finished on their dressage score. Australia’s Andrew Hoy added 19.6 cross country time penalties and four showjumping penalties to his leading dressage score of 42.3 to come third.
Leading Scottish rider in eighth place and also best under 25 was Harriet Baird from Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, riding her own 11 year-old gelding Persian Coin in his first three star.
British team member for the forthcoming European championships, Nicola Wilson and Bee Diplomatic took first place in the Barclays Wealth CIC three star where competitors showjump and cross-country on the same day. She added only four showjumping penalties and 6.8 cross-country time penalties to her dressage score of 46.4 to finish on 58.2, nearly seven points ahead of William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk. This combination were fourth in the two star at Blair last year and William is also on the team for the Europeans.
Kelso-based New Zealander Caroline Powell came third on the eight-year-old Onwards and Upwards with a score of 68.6.
Leading Scottish rider was Emily Galbraith from Jedburgh. She finished in fourth place with one of the few double clears of the day, adding only 6 time penalties to her dressage score of 62.7 on her own Timing.
Things are looking good for the British team at the Europeans in Luhmulen, Germany, next week as the CCI two star was won by another selected team member, Polly Stockton and Benromach, a horse which was bred by the Lochore family at Forres.
Matthew Wright and Hugginstown won the two star in 2009 and 2010 but could only manage second this year, 2.2 points behind Polly. Daisy Berkeley and Mopani finished third.
Best of the Scots was Daniel Scott from Sauchenford near Stirling in 12th place riding Rhona Elliot’s Cherry Law.
A very well supported CCI one star fielded 92 competitors and was won by William Fox-Pitt riding Before Time. He led from day one with a very good dressage score of 38.1 and added nothing to it in the cross-country and showjumping phases.
Oliver Townend and Brucester Rooster came second on 43.2 while Caroline Powell took third place on The Earl of Belvedere. Leading Scottish rider was ninth placed Heather Larson from Fort William riding her own 12 year-old grey gelding, Elegant Grey.
Tens of thousands of people flocked to Blair Atholl over the four days of the event where they enjoyed not only world class competition but also shopping in the tented village and food hall and the spectacular Bruadar Country Fair activities and demonstrations.