Aldon (1) Horse Trials photos are up in the British Eventing 2011 section & Aldon (1) below is a review by Binny Bennett !!
At the end of three days of competition the sun shone brightest upon Sam Griffiths and the appropriately named Happy Times, winners of the Church House Advanced Intermediate Section T at Aldon Horse Trials, ahead of Fiona Hobby and Aoifie Clark. For four years this section has been dominated by Paul Tapner but this time it was the turn of a fellow British-based Australian and Sam is now aiming to match Tapners’ achievement at Badminton. Sam Griffiths and Mrs Dinah Posford, Mrs Juliet Donald and his own Happy Times were placed at Badminton two years ago and this remains the main aim for the coming season. Badminton, is earlier than usual this year, in April as opposed to May, and it is possibly to this that Sam owes his Aldon victory. Despite the harshness of the winter and the inevitable hold ups that snow brings with it, Sam has had to put extra gallops and fitness into his Badminton horses to have them more forward than usual at this stage in the season. When realising after the dressage and show jumping that he was in a competitive position, Sam allowed Happy Times to stretch out between the fences on the cross country and hence made the optimum time very easily. Reflecting on his win Sam was keen to praise the good ground at Aldon, primed by a few showers on Friday, and emphasised that he was pleased to have won what is now a local event for him, now being a Wincanton-based Australian. However, with Badminton happening earlier this season Sam will renew rivalry with most of the competitors again very soon with Belton being the next stop for many of them.
Sam Griffiths and Happy Times aside, another big winner throughout the Intermediate sections’ was the county of Devon. Intermediate Section P was won by a delighted Daniel Sibley who capitalised on an excellent dressage score of 23.2 with Miss Sharon Alston’s Jovial Valentino. The nine year old gelding is a relatively new ride for Sibley (their first event together was the autumn Aldon last October) but also a horse which he rates highly. The young man from Bovey Tracey was quick to praise fellow riders Georgie Spence, Harry Meade and Aaron Miller who have all ridden the horse in his younger days in addition to Andrew Nicholson who has given Daniel various pieces of advice over the years and who was beaten into second place. The irony of this was not lost on the evergreen New Zealander who had a few ‘tongue in cheek’ words afterwards. Red Mills Open Intermediate Under 21 Section S was won by Axminster-based Tim Rogers with his home bred Corrieview Owen just ahead of Bristol-based Dani Evans who came both second and third on Mrs Heather Sheppard’s Uchin and Mrs Vanessa Watson’s Raphael II, respectively. Tim is looking to compete at Advanced level with Corrieview Owen towards the end of the season and this will be a satisfying achievement with a ‘home bred’. Also in this Section Mary King’s daughter Emily picked up the trophy for being the highest placed rider under18 on her first time going at Intermediate level with Mrs Patsy Mason’s Mr Hiho.
Paul Tapner is used to winning the Advanced Intermediate class but he had consolation in Open Intermediate Section Q on Ms Jane Gwillim-David’s Carry on Joseph. Aldon was essentially a calming exercise for the ten year old gelding who had been quite worked up at Tweseldown on his first outing of the season so the win came as a slightly pleasant surprise. After the win Paul joked wryly that he wished he had “entered him in the AI” to have given him a better chance of retaining it but was realistic that the extra demands of the advanced test would have been counter-productive towards settling the horse. Finishing on the same score as Paul and Carry On Joseph in this section were Matthew Heath and Mrs Jules Hodgekinson’s Gran Chaco but they were placed second courtesy of being two seconds over the optimum time on the cross country.
Open Intermediate Section R saw a first win for Emily Philp and Mrs Grahame Knowles’s Plutonium. The eight year old has progressed through the ranks of BE100 and Novice grades very quickly but without ever achieving a victory, mainly due to errors in the show jumping. Practice over the winter has seen this discipline become more consistent but due to the horse’s young age Emily is keen to not move him onto Advanced level too soon. Intermediate Section O was led from the start by Kate Allen on her own Final Encore. A good dressage and clear show jumping saw them take a commanding lead, although the final margin was quite close after a steady cross country round.
The further fourteen sections over the three days saw fourteen different winners, a mixture of the established names, youth and single horse riders. However, in the end of, all the riders were pleased to have had an early season outing following the generally agreed ‘slog’ that the winter weather had necessitated. All proceeds from Aldon went to the charities RNLI, Home Farm Trust and St Margarets Hospice with the help of volunteers and officials under the guidance of the Batten family making it all possible.