Piggy March and Vanir Kamira. Photo courtesy of Hartpury International.

Piggy March and Vanir Kamira have scored their first international victory since taking the Badminton Horse Trials in 2019, winning the NAF Magic CCI4*S at the NAF Five Star International Hartpury Horse Trials. Vanir Kamira is the first ever mare to win the CCI4*S competition and also delivered her best ever finishing score at an international event (26.4)

The combination jumped an effortless clear round in the show jumping on Saturday morning, before storming around Eric Winter’s cross country track well inside the time – one of just four pairs to do so.

The 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare had looked outstanding on Friday afternoon putting in a consistent test brimming with 7s and 8s. The judges were particularly impressed by the walk and canter work and accurate half passes were also well rewarded by the Ground Jury.

Vanir Kamira, or “Tilly” as she’s known, was bred by Kathryn Jackson in Ireland’s Co. Monaghan. Her dam was Fair Caledonian and sire, Camiro De Haar Z.

Dressage leader Ros Canter finished in a very creditable 2nd place after having a rail down and picking up 0.8pen on the cross country with her Badminton runner-up Lordships Graffalo. She enjoyed two outstanding cross country rounds and two top-ten finishes with Pencos Crown Jewel having also finished in 8th.

The only former winners in the field, Kitty King and Vendredi Biats, picked up 5.2 time pens on the cross country meaning the galloping grey finished in third place.

Tom McEwen withdrew his Olympic ride Toledo De Kerser before dressage began but finished in 4th place with Bob Chaplin. Monkeying Around and Izzy Taylor had been in 2nd place after dressage but a rail down and 7.2 time pens dropped them to 6th.

Elsewhere, the NAF Mpower CCI2*L and NAF Superflex CCI3*L see no change at the very top of the leaderboard. Jason Wood and Nitro (2*) jumped clear across country within the time as did a number of other 2* combinations. It’s tight at the top as there’s just 2.4pens between the top ten.

China’s Alex Hua Tian has maintained his lead in the CCI3*L with Jilsonne Van Bareelhof (25.4) after jumping a clear cross country round inside the time. He needs to jump a clear round on Sunday as Stephen Heal and I Diablo Joe sit just 2 penalties behind him on 27.4. Both the CCI2*L and CCI3*L competitors will face a final horse inspection on Sunday morning before showjumping.

Three-quarters of the CCI4S* runners jumped clear across country and penalties were scattered all around the course with the Jump 1 Brush Corners proving perhaps the most influential.

Course Designer Eric Winter reflected on a successful day: “It’s been another safe and successful day of cross country at Hartpury, and I’m delighted with how the course rode. As was the case with the FEI European Championships for Young Riders/Juniors a few weeks ago, the 2* and 3* tracks were educational and created a good test for the level. Interestingly, penalties around the two courses came from different fences to those in the European Championships.

“The 4* track had a good number of completions and I’m delighted for Piggy who really got out and attacked the course. For many, this will have been a superb prep run for the autumn internationals setting them up for Burghley in a few weeks time.”

Rosie Scott-Ward, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Hartpury University, said: “We’re thrilled for Piggy and the lovely mare Vanir Kamira. They pulled out all the stops in the jumping phases and were rewarded with this victory. It’s a great privilege for Hartpury to host horses of this calibre and to have former Badminton and Bramham winners amongst the names.

“In light of the hot conditions, we worked closely with the FEI officials, vets and riders themselves to make a number of changes ahead of cross country day. As a result, the course was shortened in order to create a shaded finish area in the woods. This worked particularly well, allowing horses to be cooled quickly and efficiently using ice water and fans. We also ensured water points were distributed throughout the course to keep horses cool during holds. The earlier start (07:30) helped many combinations to jump away from the hottest part of the day.”

For the U.S., Katherine Coleman picked up a 14th place finish with her own RLE Limbo Kaiser, a 15-year-old Irish gelding with whom Katherine’s been partnered since early 2021. Burghley-bound Meghan O’Donoghue also contested the 4*-S with Palm Crescent, adding only some time on cross country for 28th overall, while Emily Hamel and Corvett finished in 49th, also with just time added on cross country. Canada’s Kathryn Robinson also contested the 4*-S with Cloud K, adding two rails and some time on cross country to their final score.

Alex Hua Tian and Jilsonne Van Bareelhof (Top Shots Photography)

CCI3*L

Even a pole down in Sunday’s final showjumping phase wasn’t enough to prevent China’s Alex Hua Tian winning the NAF Superflex CCI3*L with Jilsonne Van Bareelhof. The imposing 17hh Belgian warmblood by Nevado Van De Rostal looked to have plenty of experience as the pair moved effortlessly through the phases. A dressage score of 25.4 followed up by an eye-catching cross country round on Saturday placed the pair in a comfortable position as those closest to them faltered. Alex’s other ride Cooley Admiral also jumped a clear round but 9.2 time pens from cross country and a dressage score of 45.6 meant they finished in 25th place.

Ellie Fredericks and Pure Trendsetter moved up to 2nd place after a clear round on Sunday while Emily Young-Jamieson and Obos Nidge, and Alexander Whewall and Wisbeach Cevin Z Pride also moved up to 3rd and 4th respectively after jumping a valuable clear.

CCI2*L

More than half of the 3* competitors jumped clear rounds on Sunday afternoon, but it was a different story for the 2* combinations during the morning session.

Kitty King continued a run of good Hartpury form, winning the NAF M Power CCI2*L with RSH Monbeg Marshall on a score of 29.4. Kitty had finished in 3rd place in the NAF Magic CCI4*S with her galloping grey Vendredi Biats on Saturday.

Jumping proved the name of the game and Sunday’s showjumping phase proved extremely influential in altering a leaderboard that had been largely unchanged after the dressage and cross country. With the top ten so close after the cross country, even a time fault was costing several places.

Jason Wood and Nitor had led after the first two phases but a rail down and 1.2 time pens proved expensive, dropping the pair into 8th place.

Just over a quarter of the 2* riders managed to record a clear around Paul Connor’s track. Clear rounds moved several pairs up the leaderboard including Great Britain’s Millie Toulson-Clarke and Tir Na Nog Shadow who finished 2nd with 30.8, Ireland’s Danielle Mccormack and Billy Orinoco who finished 3rd with 32.3, and Tim Cheffings who finished in 4th and 5th place with Fanad West Callardo and Nadir De Leau respectively.

Course Designer Eric Winter reflected on a successful cross country day for the two levels: “Saturday saw a safe and successful day of cross country at Hartpury, and I’m delighted with how the course rode even in the hot conditions. As was the case with the FEI European Championships for Young Riders/Juniors a few weeks ago, the 2* and 3* tracks were educational and created a good test for the level. Interestingly, penalties around the two courses came from different fences to those in the European Championships.”

Rosie Scott-Ward, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Hartpury University, said: “Congratulations to Alex Hua Tian and Kitty King on their victories in the 3* and 2* competitions. It’s been an outstanding week of world-class eventing action and I’d like to thank the riders, officials, volunteers and sponsors who help to make our events a success. Today is rather bittersweet for us as it’s the last of our major equestrian events for the season. We’ve enjoyed a spectacular summer with the addition of the European Championships and are already looking ahead to 2023.

“The weather presented a host of challenges for our team this week but working with the FEI officials, vets and riders themselves, we managed to create a comfortable environment for horses and humans alike. By starting earlier in the day and implementing a shaded wash-down area with extra volunteers and an abundance of iced water, all horses and riders enjoyed a safe and enjoyable week at Hartpury.”

The Hartpury Organising Committee would like to say a special thank you to all our sponsors, in particular NAF, whose generous title sponsorship helps us to stage our three prestigious equestrian events.

NAF Five Star Hartpury International H.T. (Gloucestershire, England): [Website] [Final Scores] [Live Stream Replay]

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