Gatcombe Park.. Festival of British Eventing

GBR-Tom McEwen rides Dreamaway II during the Cross Country for The Smith and Williamson
British Intermediate Championship. Final-1st. 2019 GBR-Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing – Gatcombe. Saturday 3 August. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

A busy weekend for Team McEwen with a total of 7 horses competing over the three days across the whole spectrum of classes from the BYEH class to the British Open.

A great start to the weekend with MHI Pop Star (Jack) winning the Burghley Young Event Horse qualifier on home ground. Stablemate Shannondale Aero also took part but having won his own qualifier back at Chatsworth the pressure was off and Brookfield Braveheart had a crack at it as well.

Dream Big (Dreamy) was in the ROR championship class and found herself in the mix with some very nice ex racehorses alongside her.  I am not entirely sure that showjumping on the Sunday after going cross country on the Saturday is the ideal format for these horses but after a 34 dressage and a zip round the cross country picking up 1.6 time which is the really fun bit Dreamy arrived back in the main arena on Sunday for a pop round the showjumping.  I thought Tom had decided to emulate Michi Jung as he warmed her up in sitting trot in a jump saddle but he assured me that it was not the case at all…. just that Dreamy has such a short stride in trot its easier to sit!

It is fair to say that Dreamy is a better oxer jumper than a vertical jumper and it was slightly inevitable that one would come down! Adding just 4 faults was no disgrace and they finished 5th in a class that was led from start to finish by Tina Cook.

The British Intermediate Championships is run over an advanced track and both Braveheart B ( Dougie) and Dreamaway (Dreamer) were entered having qualified over the last 12 months.  Dougie scored a 30.8 and show jumped clear before retiring to his stable as he has another run planned at Aston Le Walls later this week.

Dreamer executed a smart 27.2 in the  dressage which left him in equal first place with Harry Meade and Red Kite in a quality field of horses. When Dreamer show jumped clear and Red Kite lowered a pole in an as always hugely influential showjumping that left Tom the class leader going into cross country and that is always a great place to be!

Galloping cross country on your home base is not the easiest of tasks and Tom has discovered over the years that going quickly is actually the best way to keep the horses concentrated! Quickly  indeedwent Dreamer and coming home with 8 time meant that he led the class by nearly 7 points which is quite a feat and made him a really deserved winner.  Many great horses have come out of this class over the years and whilst Dreamer has already proved himself one of those it really does bode well for his long term future.

While Dreamer was busy climbing up the eventing ladder Figaro van het Broekxhof (Fig) is happily residing right at the top of it having just finished runner up at Luhmuhlen 5*Long.  I am not sure he was terribly impressed with being brought to a party at his own home and he scored a 33.9 on the flat which left him a bit off the pace in the British Open which is also a CI4*Short.  He returned on Sunday for the showjumping phase and didn’t look much happier to see masses of horses partying in his back garden and in a slightly grumpy moment left two rails on the ground in what was again very testing showjumping track.  That sealed his fate and he was withdrawn from the cross country and headed back to his stable with a much happier look on his face!

So al in all a super weekend for the team with a couple of wins and Dreamer being the star of the Festival for Tom.  Special thanks to Bobby McEwen as well as not many vets out on course are asked to pick up a Liverpool ( rubber water tray) from the showjumping  warm up and stuff it in the back of their car along with all the medical equipment!  Tim Price had borrowed it from Tom’s yard for the showjumping collection ring and it proved very useful as Xavier Faer jumped a lovely clear round showjumping.  We congratulated ourselves as this is a horse that has a very short term memory and he needs to do these things just before he goes into the ring.

Xavier Faer then proved us all totally wrong when he remembered the corner he ran out at two years ago and promptly did the same again cross country!