Belton International Day Three Roundup
15 April 2018
Jonty Evans Credit Adam Fanthorpe

Photo credit: Adam Fanthorpe

It was a very emotional Jonty Evans who lifted the 2018 Lycetts Grantham Cup this afternoon. The Irishman hit the headlines last year when he successfully crowd-funded £500,000 to buy his Rio 2016 Olympic partner Cooley Rorkes Drift (aka 'Art') when the previous owner decided to sell – this is a horse who has, literally, thousands of owners.

With very red, damp eyes Jonty confessed: “I've never even won an Advanced class, let alone an international. This is amazing. Art is the horse who has given me the most pleasure and the most grief in one go over the years. What people did for me in securing our partnership is unprecedented in our sport.

“This win is the fairydust; a good performance was what we needed [with Badminton looming]. Everyone wants this horse to go well, my phone hasn't stopped pinging.”

Runner up behind Jonty was Piggy French, also riding a Badminton bound horse, Vanir Kamira, on whom she took the runner up spot at Burghley last year. “Given the results were so close, of course I wish I'd gone a bit quicker – she can easily go faster, but this was a prep run and with the spring we've had today wasn't the day to push.

“Jonty's win is great for the sport. So many people supported him last year, this is a great result for all of them too.”

Gemma Tattersall completed the top three, but not on her top horse Arctic Soul who was very strong out on course, picking up an uncharacteristic run out in his exuberance. Instead it was Pamero 4 who put Gemma on the podium.

Due to the huge number of entries, a second three star section also ran, for less experienced horses. Tom Jackson and Billy Cuckoo won this with Austin O'Connor again in the ribbons, on Lucky Contender.

The 2018 Belton International wrapped up with two advanced sections. Kiwi riders dominated the first of these, taking the top three places. Jonelle Price and Classic Moet topped the leaderboard, ahead of Andrew Nicholson on Swallow Springs and Dan Jocelyn riding Grovine de Reve. The final win of the weekend went to Izzy Taylor and Direct Cassino.

Belton International Day Two Roundup
14 April 2018
Bubby Upton

The sun finally came out to play today, as the Two Star and Intermediate competitors took centre stage. Nothing changed at the top of the Two Star leaderboards: Australia's Christopher Burton, Lycetts Grantham Cup winner in 2016, claimed the first riding Bahira M in a close fought battle, with Chris finishing less than one penalty point ahead of Emily Baldwin and Uppercourt Cooley.

Emily, winner of the Lycetts Grantham Cup back in 2009, has enjoyed a successful two days, also finishing runner up in an intermediate section yesterday on board intermediate first timer Vivian 47.

Reigning Junior European Champions Bubby Upton and Eros DHI had a much larger winning margin in the second two star class. Finishing on their dressage score of 24.9 they recorded a 3.5 penalty advantage over Newark based fellow Junior team mate Lizzie Baugh and Quarry Man.

“Eros is incredibly special – he's done so much for me. Basically he is very cocky and he thinks he's amazing. I'm sure that's why he is so competitive,” said Bubby, who is hoping to catch the eye of the selectors again this year.

“The team here have done an incredible job, working on the cross country track overnight, rolling the course to make the going good for today. I can't thank them enough.”

More intermediate classes wrapped up the day. William Fox-Pitt ended on a high, with a runner up spot on Yes I Can behind Piggy French riding Castletown Clover in the straight intermediate section. He has also ridden Little Fire into second place at the end of the Lycetts Grantham Cup dressage phase and holds first and second places in the remaining three star section after dressage, with Bay My Hero and Fernhill Pimms.

Harry Meade and Ireland's Austin O'Connor won the open intermediate sections, while Pippa Funnell remains at the top of the Grantham Cup section, albeit now with Billy Beware, MGH Grafton Street now lying in third behind Little Fire.

Tomorrow's action kicks off with show jumping at 8am. The cross country gets under way at 9am.

Belton International Day One Roundup
13 April 2018
Lauren Blades Credit An Eventful Life

Photo credit: An Eventful Life

Competition got underway at Belton House today, with novice competitors the first to perform. 'Novice' is a slightly misleading term – these competitors still face fences set at 1m10, so it is not for the faint hearted.

Emily King claimed the first of these sections riding Kings Rose, with Kitty King (no relation) topping the second leaderboard aboard Cristal Fontaine. However, it was local rider Lauren Blades who had the best morning.

Lauren, from Wymeswold, won section C riding Rodnikova Dream while also piloting Max Faktor into fifth place and Coulston Topcat into sixth in the previous two classes. Lauren said of Angela Schumann's seven-year-old Rodnikova Dream that she thinks the sky might be the limit for this horse.

“Angela approached me out of the blue this time last year, inviting me to ride 'Roddy', who is the last of her homebred horses. She's been so trusting and given me a totally free rein in producing him.

“He isn't a 'big yard' horse – he loves a lot of individual attention, and as long as he wants to do something he has huge ability so it's up to me to make sure he enjoys it! He was great today, and despite the overnight rain the ground on the cross country course was remarkably good.”

The Open Novice Under 18 class was won by Market Harborough based Daisy Hammond and Apollos Copywright, while the Under 21 Open Intermediate class also went to a local rider, Loughborough's Mollie Summerland's with her own nine-year-old Charly Van Ter Heiden.

Two intermediate classes also ran today, both going to Rio 2016 veterans. New Zealander Tim Price claimed one aboard Spartaco, while Ireland's Jonty Evans took the other on Dreamliner.

In the International classes Christopher Burton and Bubby Upton currently lead the 'two star' sections after performing smart dressage tests, with Pippa Funnell on MGH Grafton Street holding the advantage in the Lycetts Grantham Cup 'three star' – although less half a penalty separates the top four combinations with more set to perform their dressage tests tomorrow.

Tomorrow's forecast looks good, the tradestands are packed with products to tempt shoppers of all persuasions, and the equestrian action kicks off at 8am.