Stonar School One Day Event
Cottles Park, Atworth, Melksham, Wiltshire, England
by Evin Grody
The amazing team at Stonar School once again proved their skill, professionalism, and versatility. The BE event on June 27 and 28 went off with nary a hitch. The competition and atmosphere was fantastic and the course was great.
Despite the rather traumatic effects of the Mini-ISODE at Stonar less than a month ago and the recent hot, dry weather, the crew at Stonar managed to transform what could have been rock hard, torn up ground into a springy, fast running track that was appreciate by all. And so the field was literally set for two amazing days of competition.
This event drew many of the biggest names of eventing, including William Fox Pitt, Matt Ryan, Bettina Hoy and Harry Meade, who all brought their younger mounts out for the day. And they had a demanding course, all tracks including obstacles of max height and technical difficulty, to tackle and large, well experienced sections to compete against. The scores in all divisions were highly competitive, alternating between very tight placings and runaway winners. The Pre-Novice sections saw three winners leading by only a single point, while the fourth section was considerably delineated as Matt Ryan had pulled away by a margin of 7.5 point by the end of the day. But the greatest winning margins were created by William Fox Pitt, whose scores stood out almost as much as he does in a crowd. In Novice Section K, where he finished with Lord Buckingham on a score of 28.6, he finished a massive 11.5 points ahead of the second placed Louisa Lockwood. And William clearly proved this was no fluke as he won Novice sections J and M as well, his smallest margin being 5.8 points in section M. And even in the fourth Novice section (Section L) he placed 4th with Dylan but was only 3.9 points out of first. William Fox Pitt was not the only one to produce impressive results though. Matt Ryan won Pre-Novice section H on D. Clover Lad with a decisive 23.0, leading the second placed Harry Meade on Sir Quizzical by 7.5 points. But Harry proved victorious in Pre-Novice section I with Spring Heeled Jack on a score of 33.5. Stonar's own Victoria Adderley was in this section as well and placed 4th, trailing Harry by only 6 points.
Stonar fielded a large number of both past and present students. Ex-Stonarian Verity Halliwell managed to beat out William Fox Pitt in Novice Section L for 3rd place and Coco Chambers bombed around the course to miss a rosette by only .2 of a point in Novice Section M, despite the fact that Okavanga had only just been back in work after a lengthy period on box rest.
While the results were very competitive and tight, the atmosphere could not have been more laid back. Excepting the odd case of nerves, everyone down at cross-country seemed calm, cool, and collected. The air of professionalism exuded from everyone, amateur and pro alike, allowing everything to run like a well-oiled machine. And so the day, which started before 8 and finished at around 6.30 slid by much faster than could have. And with the largely co-operative weather keeping it nice and cool, success is the only way to describe the day. Though a few people had some unplanned departures from their equine friends, there were no serious injuries and on the whole, most seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. And so the day ended on a high point for everyone, the tension of waiting to ride drained and replaced by a content relaxation. It was evident on all the riders' faces as the crossed the finish line for the final time. On rider especially stands to mind as he crossed the finish line, gave a victorious shout, leapt off as soon as he had pulled up, and wrapped his arms around his horse's neck in a great big hug.
And so a thanks must go out to everyone that participated in this event for making it such a success: the riders for their professionalism and understanding, the volunteers for the priceless help and work, and especially for the team at Stonar, without whom none of this would be possible.
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