Belton Horse Trials bask in the sunshine as records smashed

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Organisers of the Belton Horse Trials say this year’s event has smashed records for the most spectators.

Spectator numbers broke previous records for this increasingly popular event, with car parks filled to bursting point.

Alice Kilham, 17, of Ingoldsby, takes on one of the jumps at Belton Horse Trials.

Alice Kilham, 17, of Ingoldsby, takes on one of the jumps at Belton Horse Trials.

Event director Stuart Buntine said: “The weather gods were kind to us - particularly today, but year on year we offer great family entertainment as well as the obvious draw of the world’s best event riders and their horses, many of which will be heading to either Badminton or to America’s Rolex Kentucky next month.

“The ground was spot on for the horses in terms of not too hard, not too soft, and Captain Mark Phillips’s courses always give the riders something to think about – and therefore the spectators some excellent viewing. Tomorrow we start planning Belton International 2018.”

There were plenty of events aside from the equine activities with dog ggility, Jerry Green’s Dog Show, the Interactive Zone, and more than 90 tradestands.

In the competition, there was an excellent dressage test which gave Ballinteskin Rado room for error in the show jumping, en route to claiming Friday’s Intermediate section under Rutland rider Angus Smales. Known as ‘Mouse’ at home, the eight-year-old has a dual career and spends all winter Field Mastering and Whipping In for the Fernie hunt with his owner, Sean Frankham.

Zara Tindall took the runner-up spot riding BGS Class Affair, and had her hands full preventing daughter Mia joining in with competitors performing their dressage tests in the Grantham Cup arena.

Philippa Nixon and Arctic Cruising won the Open Intermediate under 21 section, while the two straight novice sections went to Lindsay Middleton riding Aaragon and Sophie Johnson on Ernst, The Under 18 section provided a win for a delighted Amelia Hattersley and Sappalot.

A British rider scooped the main prize in the headline class, the Lycetts Grantham Cup, for the first time since 2012. In a very closely fought contest Izzy Taylor and KBIS Starburst just pipped 2014 winners Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II to the post, while Northamptonshire based Piggy French was also within one penalty point of the winner riding Jayne McGivern’s Quarrycrest Echo on the pair’s first run at this level.

Izzy said: “I’m delighted with this win. KBIS Starburst has had nearly two years off competition, and he does get nervous in an atmosphere of which there is plenty here, but I’ve worked hard on that and couldn’t be happier with his performance this weekend.”

Izzy, who has ridden for Great Britain at two European Championships, also finished fifth riding Frog Rock.

Sunday’s action included two national advanced classes with the first going to Cheshire rider Paul Sims and Glengarnock. It was a second win of the weekend for Paul who also filled the top spot in an open intermediate section yesterday. Irish rider Mark Kyle, who runs a big competition yard in Wymeswold with his wife Tanya, took the runner up spot.

British number one Oliver Townend came close to making it three out of three top wins for the home nation but he had to settle for second place in the closing advanced section of the day riding ODT Ghareeb, a horse who hasn’t finished out of the top three in almost a year. However, he was narrowly beaten by New Zealand’s Tim Price and Xavier Faer who at the time of writing are the next combination to be accepted from the wait list at this year’s Badminton Horse Trials.

Yesterday’s International Two Star winner, Louth based rider Ros Canter, was back in the prizes in today’s open intermediate finishing just behind Oliver Townend, with 2013 Grantham Cup winners Vittoria Panizzon and Borough Pennyz topping that leaderboard.

For more information about the Horse Trials, visit www.belton-horse.co.uk