Brilliant Result for Nicola Wilson

Fabulous result for Nicola Wilson and  'JL Dublin' owned by James and Jo Lambert and Deirdre Johnston, at The Festival of British Eventing, Gatcombe. The pair achieved a lovely double clear to finish 8th in the British Intermediate Championships.

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Pictures courtesy of Trevor Holt

August 7, 2018  |   Share:

Win a bag of Suregrow Fertiliser

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August 7, 2018  |   Share:

Sarah-Jane Brown July Blog

Another month has flown by and it has been a struggle with the dry hot weather. Big thanks to Suregrow as currently I still have grass for mine although even this has stopped growing, as I am writing this it is raining so fingers crossed for it to green up and grow again.

The weather has had a big impact on the eventing with the exception of one run I have pretty much stopped eventing and changed my allegiance to show jumping on surfaces. Actually the amount of effort events are going to is making some reasonable ground to run on but that doesn’t help the training at home so I haven’t done any cross country schooling or much fitness work. So until there is a significant change in weather I have severely limited my eventing entries. The one exception this month was a run at Bicton Horse Trials where Fliss did her first BE80.

I will start by reflecting on how far we have come together to get to our first BE.

In the winter my confidence was shattered. Yes I had jumped Advanced in the past but I didn't even want to canter Fliss. I spent more time crying than anything else and certainly had very little enjoyment in riding. I had supportive people around me and was honest about my struggles. Fliss was an angel very patient but as a green horse did need riding.

I took her to her first XC schooling at Pontispool in the arena in the winter and she refused point blank to get her feet wet or to follow another horse in. Eventually I managed to lead her in (in short boots and it was icy cold). We ignored XC and got our confidence together show jumping.

Finally I felt ready to tackle our first BE event. Huge thanks to the team at Bicton for producing a great event with the best ground possible considering the weather. The track was top end for the level (BE80) and certainly needed riding.

Dressage warm up was kept to 15 minutes as it was very hot and she was going sweetly until a grey pony starting working nearby, no idea why but she took fright, her head up in the air and really spooked. Luckily she settled to go in the arena and produced a nice test for her stage of training. A bit wobbly at times but great to have a judge that rewarded the good bits so marks ranged from 5.5 to 8. Very pleased that one 8 was for my riding. 

We were one of only two combinations to break the 30 mark with a 29.8 to leave us 2nd after dressage.

Show jumping was small for Fliss but I was very pleased with how she jumped so sensibly, neither treating them as insignificant nor over jumping. She didn't touch a pole and achieved a great clear round.


Cross country was a decent track for the level with lots of questions particularly for a horse that was yet to have any sort of round cross country. 1 and 2 were decent size and she backed off and needed strong riding, however once away she really focused on the job in hand and took her fences on. The water was at 7 and although she backed off for half a stride she trotted straight in and was away. The rest of the course she jumped sensibly with a big grin on her face, we took it steadily due to ground, heat and experience and clocked up 7.2 time penalties. This was still good enough to finish 3rd which I was over the moon with. 


Ellie meanwhile also had a success this month and even had her picture in Horse and Hound (26 July). Much as my focus is always on eventing my only mentions in Horse and Hound have been for non eventing pursuits and this time it was showing.  Touch wood there seems nothing that Ellie can’t turn her hoof to. This year she has had wins at affiliated dressage, show jumping and eventing. 

So it was time to try something new - showing! To be totally honest I have never been a big showing fan but always fancied trying Ellie in a Working Hunter Pony class. Now there has always been a major hurdle in this plan these classes are restricted to younger riders making me ineligible. However Cornwall’s biggest one day show Stithians had the class as open so we popped an entry in. The class was for 143-153 ponies as Ellie is in the lower range I didn’t expect her to be too competitive. 

It was about a week before panic set in and I realised we not only didn’t know what we were doing but didn’t have any correct gear either!! A close contact jumping saddle would not show her confirmation off that well, a Micklem bridle is evidently not correct and evidently white show jumping boots would be a no no. I don’t have a shirt and tie nor correct showing stick. 

Well the day before was spent teaching me and Ellie on the art of standing a horse up correctly and doing a good trot up. We also borrowed a cavasson bridle and some black boots. 

The course was 90cm with a variety of different rustic questions. It was quite spooky and caused a few horses stops. 11 fences on a sloping ring meant it couldn’t be taken lightly. 

I warmed Ellie up who immediately in a different bridle popped her tongue over the bit - hopped off and popped the bit up higher than I normally would have and luckily she didn’t repeat the trick. 

She jumped a super round and wasn’t affected by the spooky jumps. I think about half of the 14 jumped clear and were called back in for the showing bit. 

We were then called in in any order. Annoyingly I ended up at the end and was first to be called forward so I didn’t get to see anyone else’s show and learn what to do! Also after all my practice the previous day we walked up and trotted back under saddle for the judge so there was no stripping and running out needed. 

She did a nice show and we waited in line. Wasn’t the most settled line as a traction engine drove past the ring making a big racket. Ellie’s eyes were out on stalks but she did contain herself. 

The judge added the scores and we were delighted to be pulled in 2nd. Really pleased particularly as she is a little small for this class and not quite true to the type they are looking for. 

We went back in for the championship of the 3 Working Hunter Pony classes where we walked trotted and galloped for the judge. Have to say she gave a great gallop (best bit for Ellie) which the judge complimented us on. We ended up reserve champion which was amazing. 

A really fun day and nice to do something different. Ellie loved the experience of the crowds looking at her and being able to show off. Busy and buzzy atmosphere which didn’t faze her and can only stand her in good stead for some bigger horse trials in the future.4.jpg

We have finished the month off with a three day show at Dorset Showground show jumping. It was spoilt by the heat but horses and humans survived.

Ellie had an annoying 4 faultitis until the last class of the weekend where in a 1.05 pick your own line I really challenged her with some technical lines and angles over one of the biggest tracks she has jumped. This is obviously the way forward as she really focused and jumped amazingly to come 2nd in a very competitive class.

Fliss was a bit up and down or perhaps my riding was. She jumped a couple of super double clears in the Discovery classes but then I entered a Newcomers and the poles flew as I rode like a tentative lemon. So glad she came out the final day jumping really well, with 3rd place in the Discovery so no long term damage.

Looking ahead if the weather is kind Fliss is entered in the 90 at West Wilts which is the middle of August.  Both are booked in for lessons with Caroline Moore at Millfield which should be really interesting. Expect to hear all about it next time.


August 3, 2018  |   Share:

Sarah-Jane Brown in Horse & Hound

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August 3, 2018  |   Share:

Sarah-Jane Brown June Blog

I am always keen to portray the ups and downs that go with eventing and be honest about the things that don’t go as well. However reflecting on the start of the season I have to say it has been very positive with both horses going really well and making progress. Considering over the winter my confidence was at rock bottom and I was close to giving up this has been a welcome change.

What has changed, I still work hard and train them in the same way maybe at last some of it is sinking in. I had a few amazing lessons in the spring with Austin O’Connor the Irish International Event Rider which really helped set us up for the season. I have also worked harder than ever before on my own fitness with my local fitness centre doing crossfire classes, gym work and I even completed a 5k in June. Considering since I smashed my hip a number of years ago I could barely run a step to run the full 5k was quite an achievement.

Fliss I have taken slowly, she needed time to muscle up and develop, although she is 7 now she was weak when I had her and would have suffered both mentally and physically from too much too soon.


Fliss is a natural jumper although getting her to and from the fences has taken more time. She has started her British Showjumping career and having registered in April in two months has completed four double clears at British Novice and four at Discovery to qualify for next year’s second rounds. She is about to start jumping 1.10m classes.

Eventing wise we hit a problem early on. We went arena eventing at Pontispool in the winter and she refused point blank to get her feet wet. She wouldn’t follow other horses in and in the end would only follow me on foot. This might have been less of a problem if it wasn’t freezing cold and I was wearing short boots. Luckily with a wet winter there was plenty of puddle training and when we visited Attington to train with Austin I lunged her in his huge water complex and then rode her in it every day of my stay. Touch wood we have now been schooling a couple of times and she has gone straight in the water. This weekend then Fliss will be doing her first BE at Bicton. Not sure what she will make of a BE80 show jumping!


Ellie meanwhile has gone from strength to strength this year and shown a huge improvement. At 14.2hh my project pony has now been with me for over 2 years - whoops! This season she has won several British Novice classes, completed at Discovery with double clears and had a very consistent time in her BE events. Sadly like everyone else our early season has been badly affected by the weather with several events cancelled. So by the mid-season point we have only had four runs.

In both her 90 outings she was double clear and placed 2nd at Bicton and 6th at Port Eliot. We moved back to 100 at West Wilts where two pesky time faults SJ put us out the placing but never the less delighted with another double clear. It finally all came together at Treborough.

Treborough is a lovely event with fabulous views and despite the recent dry spell the ground was pretty amazing. A quick walk of the course and I thought it was nice, a step up from West Wilts but not as consistently huge as when we came last year. Interestingly show jumping was causing a lot of problems as the time was very tight and actually in the end statistics showed only 27% went clear jumping and in time which is quite unheard of at this level.

The weather was pretty warm so I didn't overdo the warm up for dressage literally a five minute stroll to the arenas and 10 minutes work and we were in. Ellie produced a nice accurate and obedient test still dropping occasionally on her forehand but much improved from West Wilts.

We didn't know our score when we went to show jump, but we scored 28.5 which was about 6th best in our section. I know Ellie even on generous timed courses can pick up a time fault and I didn't want to hurry her and have poles instead. I tried to jump economical lines and after fence four I did a bit of a jump off turn to save time. It worked and although we rattled the last hard we finished clear jumping and clear time. Lots of pats for the clever pony.

I still, at this point didn't know my scores so managed to log into 'Eventing Scores' to see I was leading the section, I knew if I was clear inside the time, I couldn't be beaten! Now this may sound easier that it was! With the best will in the world we have never the quickest combination cross country (I do like to set up for a fence a little much) and the cross country time at Treborough was proving hard to get. With only 0.2 in hand over 2nd place I couldn't even afford a second over the time. I did work out I had 10 penalties in hand to assure ourselves of a rosette. My competitive instinct kicked in and I tried to ride as I did at West Wilts letting Ellie run and jump.

We went out over the first three in a good forward rhythm with not too much interference from me, the step up to skinny at five needed a little more control before we were away again. Then some simple fences and we came to the corner she popped that nicely and I managed to make a turn inside the 80 fences to save time to the step and brush, she made the distance here short but jumped brilliantly. The water is unusual at Treborough as the quick way involves a jump down a step, she hesitated but went and we were soon away again up the hill over the roll top and then the camera picks us up again before the influential log ditch log combination which caused some fair problems over the day. Well the only problem we had was the distances seeming short again as flew through. We headed to a double of logs on a right angle and had a slight miss on the first element but again took an economical route and flew the 2nd element, over the coal pallet fence and then to a big penultimate fence, I am afraid I did fiddle a little to this and show jumped it then pushing on for the last to come home a second under the time. We had won!!!

We were the only person to finish inside the time XC in our section, also of the three BE100 sections on the Saturday there were only six competitors, out of roughly 100 horses, that finished on their dressage score. 

We had some lovely prizes and Ellie was rewarded with her favourite treats, stud muffins. So delighted it all came together on the day in all phases and allowed us a win which lets face at BE is something to be savoured and appreciated, it is my 3rd career win in over 20 years of trying! 


July 10, 2018  |   Share:

Meet Suregrow blogger Sarah-Jane Brown

Sarah-Jane Brown will be guiding us through her eventing season, revealing her highs and lows along the way.

Based near Lands End in Cornwall, Sarah-Jane works  full time as a Health and Safety Inspector for Cornwall Council.

Here we learn more about Sarah-Jane’s four horses.

Said Sarah-Jane: “Rising Sun Lady, known at home as Ellie, is an eight-year-old, 14.2hh chestnut mare. Bred 3/4 TB by Malmsey and a 1/4 Connie Ellie.  She was bought two years ago as a project pony with the view to bring on and sell. Ellie has been such a pleasure and so much fun that she is still here!

“Dolmen Du Concorde, known at home as Fliss, is a seven- year-old, 15.2hh Irish Sports Horse by Royal Concorde from a Ricardo Z mare. I bought Fliss last year, she was very green and needed time to develop. She is now progressing rapidly and I am very excited for her future.

“I have now retired my 19-year-old KWPN Sarnita. Sarnie helped me achieve my dreams, we competed at advanced level and was placed in a 2*, together we gained more than 100 BE points. We competed in Ireland, Portugal, Holland and France.

“Two-year-old Kensa, is Sarnie’s daughter, by TB stallion My Eclipse. I am hoping the chestnut filly will make about 16hh.”

Don’t miss Sarah-Jane’s monthly blog on the Suregrow website and social media.  


July 10, 2018  |   Share:

William Funnell joins Hickstead Record Holders

Britain’s William Funnell joined an illustrious group of four-time winners when claiming the Al Shira’aa Derby today at Hickstead.

Riding the homebred 10-year-old Billy Buckingham, William was one of just two riders to go clear in the first round, meaning he had to jump-off for honours against Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker.

The first to go in the jump-off, William’s horse didn’t look in danger of touching a fence, although a foot in the water meant they finished with four faults in a time of 89.62sec.

It gave Holly a bit of breathing space, but she was caught out first by the black gate and then by the water as well, meaning she retired into second place.

William, 52, is the fifth rider to have four wins in the Hickstead Derby, having previously clocked up a hat-trick of victories in 2006, 2008 and 2009 with Cortaflex Mondriaan. He joins Harvey Smith, John and Michael Whitaker, and Ireland’s Eddie Macken who have all had four wins in this iconic class.

The Dorking-based rider now believes he could add to his Derby tally with Billy Buckingham. “As long as I’m fit and the horse is fit you’d like to think you could go on and win it a fifth time. It’s nice to be in the record books with those guys, and to do it this year on a homebred is special,” he said.

His horse was previously ridden by Lucy Townley, the daughter of Hickstead Director Edward Bunn. William took over the ride in 2017, and the pair finished sixth on their Derby debut last summer having hesitated at the top of the Bank and getting a time fault as well.

“We’ve done a bit of practice to make sure he’d come down the Bank. Last year I wondered if I’d wasted a clear round because they don’t come round here very often, so it’s nice to get another one and win it on a home-bred by [William’s championship horse] Billy Congo.”

 “I’d like to congratulate the Bunns on the work they’ve done in the arena, this is the best grass ring in the world with the best footing,” added William.

The Suregrow team are pleased to support such a fantastic and prestigious venue, helping to ensure the grounds and the stunning setting are looking their very best and enjoyed by all.

Hickstead director Edward Bunn: “The health and quality of the grass in the International Arena, benefits greatly from the addition of Suregrow fertilizer.”

Jonathan Cox of Suregrow said: “We are delighted to be supporting Hickstead once again as an Official Supplier.”

“With thousands of people attending Hickstead every year we are proud to be a part of creating such well-kept, maintained and beautiful surroundings with our outstanding Suregrow product range.”

Hickstead’s next international show is the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show (25-29 July).

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July 2, 2018  |   Share:

Suregrow Support The All England Jumping Course, Hickstead

Knaresborough-based Suregrow is delighted to announce their sponsorship of The All England Jumping Course, Hickstead for the 2018 season.

Specialising in the care of grassland for horses and ponies, Suregrow has a range of products including fertilisers, mineral and trace elements and grass seeds specifically selected for horse and pony paddocks, as well as the ultimate in arena and ground care management.

The company is supporting Hickstead for the 2018 season which includes the prestigious Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show to provide the very best care and maintenance for the grounds and surroundings.

Hickstead, the brain child of the late Douglas Bunn was established with the intention ‘to put on the best showjumping possible anywhere in the world’. Douglas has seen a small field in the heart of rural Sussex transformed into one of the world’s leading equestrian venues. He had the creative flair to make horse sports fun for the spectator as well as offering a new challenge to the competitor, whilst maintaining an element of originality.

The family run showground attracts great numbers and has undergone £1 million worth of refurbishment works including the complete renovation of the famous International Arena since its 50th anniversary.

Almost every great show jumper, horse and rider, has competed at the leading venue since first opening their doors in 1960. Located in the heart of Sussex, the All England Jumping Course is one of the UK’s premier sporting venues.

The Suregrow team is looking forward to supporting such a fantastic and prestigious venue, helping to ensure the grounds and the stunning setting are looking their very best and enjoyed by all.

Hickstead director Edward Bunn: “The health and quality of the grass in the International Arena, benefits greatly from the addition of Suregrow fertilizer.”

Jonathan Cox of Suregrow said: “We are delighted to be supporting Hickstead once again as an Official Supplier.”

“With thousands of people attending Hickstead every year we are proud to be a part of creating such well-kept, maintained and beautiful surroundings with our outstanding Suregrow product range.”


July 2, 2018  |   Share: