Wendy Stromberg announced her retirement from driving trials competitions at Grangewood Farm – this would be her last event before bowing out at the National Championships – but didn’t let that get in the way of a superb win in the Open Horse class.
Dressage scores were very close in this section with Wendy, in the lead on 50.8, hotly pursued by Gael Newby (51.6), Geoff Kirby (53.2), Carol Pawson (53.6), Paul Hart (54.6) and Emma Burton (57.4). Paul was left rueing his error of course in the arena which cost him the lead at this stage. However, it was the Cones phase that shook things up; Tracey Robson was the only one in this class to drive clear but at the expense of time penalties while Wendy enhanced her lead with just one ball down inside the time. Gael, Geoff, Carol and Paul all added hefty penalties but Emma was to benefit in the final shake-up by adding just six to her score. Wendy further stamped her authority in the obstacles, producing the quickest times, to comfortably take the class with Emma – who is thoroughly enjoying being back in the thick of it following the birth of George earlier this year – finishing in second place, thanks to her good cones and ‘not to be sneezed at’ obstacle times.
In the Open Pony it was the marathon phase that produced another tight contest; Dawn Tebbett, leader after dressage and the only competitor to produce a double clear in cones, had one knock-down which dropped her to third in this phase which was won by David Smith. He finished just .4 penalties ahead of Elizabeth Greensmith and one penalty ahead of Dawn. The overall result left Dawn in the lead with Elizabeth and David finishing second and third respectively.
Mick Peace – a long-time member of Midlands Driving Trials Group and a stalwart of both club and national events as a competitor and steward – also decided to call it a day. One of the most popular people on the circuit, Mick could be relied on to produce a good dressage with his mother and son pair of horses although their antics in cones and obstacles could frequently leave spectators with hearts in the mouths, especially when Mick had his foot to the floor! At Grangewood he once again led the Combined Pairs class after dressage but a retirement in the cones and a somewhat subdued obstacle round led to his decision. However, he did mention that he had ‘another [horse] at home that he might try’.
Mick’s class was won by Keith Harding, whose horses seem to be going better and better, with David Wheeldon and his ponies recovering from last place after dressage and a cricket score in cones to take second place. However, he was only .1 of a penalty ahead of Ruth Auton who was thrilled to bits with her new pairing on only their second outing.
Rene Schoop had a very comfortable margin for error after dressage and cones and duly took the Tandem class ahead of Richard Fisher with David Gulley in third.
Organiser Geoff Kirby put on another excellent event which took place in the National Forest on land owned by Andrew and Jane Kirkland.
For full results visit: www.mdtg.co.uk