The eventing season has come to a close for WOW’s sponsored event riders, and Francis Whittington has wasted no time whisking the family away on holiday! He does have another good reason; because of his teaching commitments in the USA and back here in England, he might not get another chance to spend time away with his loved ones.
Kitty King is winding things down a little at home, and tells us she’s ‘thinking about a holiday’, but Paul Tapner has competed up to the very last second, taking Indian Mill to the 4-star Etoiles de Pau in France. This was only the horse’s second attempt at the level, and it all went very well until an unfortunate show jumping round dropped them out of the top ten.
Although the eventers won’t now be competing for some months, do keep looking out for winter time tips and training hints from them on our social pages. (You can also enter a contest to win a lesson with Kitty King, pictured, in the current issue of Your Horse magazine.)
Kitty King has once more proved to be an outstanding ambassador for WOW Saddles when, for the second week running, she proved to be best of the British competitors at a big international three day event. This time, it was Blenheim International Horse Trials, where she was third on her Tattersalls CCI3* ride, Jacqueline Owen, Diana Bown and Samantha Wilson’s Ceylor LAN.
Kitty did not add a single penalty to her 44.4 dressage mark, and made the most of other people’s small errors to rise from 6th originally. “It’s been a dream season,” said Kitty. “This was a big test for this horse because he’s not full thoroughbred and is only eight, but he galloped all the way to the end and he show jumped beautifully.”
WOW’s other event riders were also at Blenheim. Paul Tapner took on a new role as commentator and Francis Whittington competed in the CIC*** section on Cavalier Venture. A rather good dressage was marred by a few down in the show jumping and a run out cross country, but Francis thinks a lot of this relatively inexperienced horse, and he is definitely one to look out for in future.
There has been no lazing about in August, for Team WOW’s sponsored event riders. Paul Tapner and Francis Whittington spent a successful weekend at Bicton in Devon, where despite the rain, they helped the riders raise over £5000 for charity. Kitty King went to Cheshire for the international at Somerford Park, and also came home with rosettes on two of her three rides. Proving that it can happen to the best of us, Kitty then made a technical error on her third ride, and was eliminated after an excellent dressage and clear show jumping round. Kitty described herself as “gutted”, which is a feeling most competitive riders can empathise with!
If that wasn’t enough, as soon as Kitty and Francis got home, they had to head out again for team training, where they received their team kit for the European Championships, as well as some fine-tuning for their mounts. They recently competed at Wellington Horse Trials near Reading, a final Advanced run for all their championship mounts before the big Autumn events; Burghley, Blenheim and the European Championships at Blair.
August began with the exciting news that Paul Tapner has become the latest WOW sponsored rider to be selected to ride for his country. He will be taking Indian Mill to Aachen, Germany for the Nations Cup of Eventing in two weeks. Currently third in the overall standings, he will be joined by Chris Burton, Kevin Mcnab and Andrew Hoy for the latest leg in the series. Paul should be ready for the challenge, having just returned from a family holiday in Italy. He was quickly back in the saddle with an admirable eighth placing at the recent Festival of Eventing at Gatcombe Park in the Open class, riding Vanir Kamira.
Meanwhile, WOW sponsored rider Francis Whittington took some novice horses to Little Downham near Ely in Cambridgeshire and scooped a handful of prizes, including a win on Easy Done. Fellow WOW rider Kitty King on the other hand, after an exciting time at Aston Le Walls last week, took a weekend off from eventing, and instead supported the International Helmet Awareness Day. All riders should bear in mind that the British Eventing rules for helmets will be changing in 2016, so don’t be caught out!
Team WOW’s event riders were out in force at Aston Le Walls last weekend, despite the inclement weather. Kitty King was in flying form, winning a Advanced section on her European Championship selected Persimmon, and being placed in another on Mo Cuiske, who was competing in his first class at the level. He will be aimed at the 8 Yr Old section at Blenheim.
Paul Taoner was not going to run his mount Kilronan across country at all because of the previously hard ground, but the torrential overnight downpour ensured a quick change of plan. “The ground ended up perfect, and so I decided I had better get on with it. And I am going to Italy for a week’s holiday tomorrow where it is currently 30 degrees, so all in all, I am super happy it is raining in England!” he told us. His ride Kilronan performed a smooth double clear to finish 12th.
Francis Whittington, birthday boy on July 27th, got his celebrations off to a fine start with eight rides of varying levels at Aston, and seven clear rounds cross country. As Francis is the seventh son of a seventh son, this was a fairly magical achievement, despite his acknowledged advancing years!
Two of the riders sponsored by WOW have been selected as part of the 12 man squad for the European Eventing Championships, to be held at Blair Castle 10th to 13th Sept. Francis Whittington and Mrs Catherine Witt’s Easy Target, and Kitty King with Frank and Jane Inns’ Persimmon, will not find out if they are part of the actual team until closer to the date, but as the UK are the host nation, all 12 of the selected riders will get to run as individuals at least. For Francis it has been a 20 year wait to get on a senior championship squad after initially representing his country on Pony and Young Rider squads.
Kitty was the first rider to represent her country at all four levels in eventing (Ponies, Juniors, Young Riders and Seniors) and this will be her second European Championship attempt. A second place finish at CCI*** Bramham secured her spot on ‘Percy’, who Kitty has produced from a youngster. That is a similar story to Francis, who got Easy Target (Smokey) as an unruly five year old. “It is very exciting after 20 years of hard work towards it,” Francis exclusively told WOW. “It is also going to be a fantastic opportunity for my sponsors, owners and staff to be part of a championship event.” Francis withdrew Easy Target at Barbury last Sunday because of the rain and wet ground; not because he had a prophetic vision! Interestingly, this is also a first European Championship for owner Catherine Witt, who now has two entries because she also owns William Fox Pitt’s Bay My Hero.
Just before the 2014 event season kicks off we have a chat to WOW Saddles sponsored rider, Kitty King, and find out what she has planned for this year…
“After the event season finished last year all the horses had a break and then came back into work in November so they were all fit and raring to go come January when the jumping and dressage training began. My year started off amazingly when I got a call from Yogi Breisner to say that I had been selected for the World Class Performance Squad! This means that I get access to lots more training and support, as well as additional funding towards my regular training. I have already been to William Fox-Pitt’s yard twice for training, Aston Le Walls all weather cross country course and the Unicorn Centre and it has been fabulous!”
“We have the first event of the season this weekend (1st March) where I will be taking one young horse for their first event. Then the older horses will run at Oasby the weekend after, then all going to plan it will be Aldon and then Gatcombe – fingers crossed the weather doesn’t ruin plans!”
“I am really excited about the season – Persimmon is aiming for Tattersalls 3* and Zidante is aiming for Badminton so we have some big plans! Hopefully all the hard work will pay off! I have a new mare called Creevagh Cooley, owned by Lindsay Caldwell, and she will hopefully do the 6 year old classes, meanwhile Ceylor LAN will be getting mileage on the clock at one day events before hopefully doing Le Lion 7 year olds at the end of the year.”
“WOW have been out and checked my saddles so we are raring to go for the season!”
It has been a great start to the spring season so far for WOW sponsored rider Kitty King…
“Persimmon won his 4th consecutive CIC ** at Burnham Market, not bad for an eight year old! We have also been to Weston Park where Persimmon and Zidante both did the Advanced. Zidante lead after the dressage and did a lovely double clear but I didn’t push her cross country so we had four time penalties which meant we came 2nd. Persimmon did his first ever advanced there and coped really well. He was a little green in his flying changes but I was very happy with him and he still came 9th. I was really pleased that he stepped up to that level and came in the top ten!
The young horses have been great, Caeleste only started eventing this season and went up to Novice at Larkhill where she was second and then won the Novice at Hambleden. Ceylor LAN is a nice 6 year old who won all the 5 year old championships last year and he won the Novice at Larkhill and then came 7th at Hambleden in the CIC*. I took it very steady with him as he is a big horse and the course was very twisty. Mo Cuiske also did the CIC* at Hambleden and came 4th which is very promising as he is aiming for Tattersalls. I also have a new ride, Very Special Z, owned by Ben Walden who also owns Zidante. I have only had a few weeks and he was second in the Novice at Aston Le Walls and then won the CIC* at Hambleden which I was thrilled about. He is also aiming for Tattersalls at the end of May.
I am really pleased with how the season has started. In fact I am currently 4th in the UK Rider Rankings which is really nice – I am sure after Badminton I won’t be so high but it is a great position to be in so early on in the season. The horses have all started the season brilliantly – most outings they have all finished in the top ten. I am really looking forward to seeing how Tattersalls and Saumur go so I can make exciting plans for the autumn!”
WOW sponsored rider, Kitty King, has already been to two events this year and so far all is looking promising!
“We started the season with Aston Le Walls with all the young horses,” she tells us. “Most of whom were ‘first timers’ and we had four nice double clears! One of my new rides, Bondi Beach won his BE100 section, another new ride Caeleste had her first run and went nicely with a double clear in the BE100 and came 5th and Burtonhill was 6th.”
“We have spent the past two days at Tweseldown, and have another two days to go! Caeleste felt better for having one run under her belt, she was less on edge and did a 28 dressage and went double clear to win her section which is very promising. Today (Thursday 7th March) I took two older horses to do the Open Intermediate and was pleased with the results. Zidante, who is aiming for the Fontainebleau Nations Cup in a few weeks, did a really nice dressage test in a very boggy arena then showjumped clear in another very boggy arena! I didn’t take her too quick cross country because of the ground but she still finished 3rd without having to push her so it was nice to get started with a good run. Persimmon was a lot later in the day so the ground had deteriorated even more but he did a good dressage of 26 and was in the lead, but he had both parts of the double down having jumped a lovely round until then, it is very unlike him but he got totally stuck in the mud, he didn’t deserve it so it was a shame. He then went on to do a very nice clear cross country round and still finished 8th so I feel we have a good start to build on. He is aiming for Tattersalls 2* in May.”
In the first of our exclusive monthly blogs from sponsored rider Kitty King, she tells us how she is coping with the snow!
Luckily we have an indoor school so it is pretty much normal service at the moment! Although we are being creative with the exercise as we can’t go out hacking. To keep it varied we are mixing it up with lunge work, jumping grids, course jumping, dressage days and sometimes I do some stretching with them on the flat to keep them supple. I have also managed to do some fitness work – although obviously you can’t go too fast in an arena – but doing 5 minutes of canter work in the school and then having a break between is helping keep on top of their fitness work. Hopefully the snow won’t last and we can get out cross country schooling in February!
The initial plan – weather permitting – is to get the horses out to my local venues, Summerhouse and Rectory Farm, to do some clear round jumping. I prefer doing this rather than going to a competition because I can treat it more like training. I set the fences to the height that I want and if I need to educate a horse then I can do so. We actually have a few cross country fences set up at home and luckily before the snow arrived some of the horses had a pop over them, so we shouldn’t be too behind in preparation for the season providing the weather clears up quickly!
This season I hope to take Zidante to do a 3* in the spring and then hopefully Pau 4* in the autumn. I have some young horses that I would like to take to Le Lion at the end of the year for the 6 year old World Cup, and Persimmon will do a 2* three-day-event this spring to get his qualification because he missed out on that due to the weather last year, and hopefully then onto a 3* later in the year.
I am also riding at the International Eventing Forum at Hartpury College on Monday 4th February so hopefully I will see some of you there!