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Three Worthy Bramham Champions Crowned
Wetherby, West Yorkshire, UK
Andrew Nicholson
The three eventing competitions started bright and early at nine this morning with the CIC***. Clear rounds were at a premium, especially in the top flight. It was seven time penalties for Harry Meade and local horse Dunauger which lowered them to fourth while just one pole dislodged was good enough to promote Olympic Team Bronze combination Sharon Hunt and Tankers Town into the top three. The penultimate rider in was Neil Spratt with the striking grey Upleadon and they handled the atmospheric arena with no trouble for an immaculate clear. This put the pressure on the leaders since the dressage, Andrew Nicholson riding Epic who cantered into the arena knowing he had just 3.4 penalties, less than a fence, in hand. It wasn't to be - the nine year old lowered two rails - the lead was lost but he did hold on to second.

It was also a close affair in the Bishop Burton Under 25 Championship and again won with a clear but this time from third place. Sarah Stretton had had a week to forget but a great ride across the country to post the only clear inside the time to elevate her and her ride Lazy Acres Skip On from 16th after dressage to fourth on Saturday which was further bolstered by a valuable clear in the show jumping arena. Third placed Emily Llewellyn and her Individual European Gold Medal partner Pardon Me II then added further pressure with a perfectly judged clear. It was then the turn of Georgie Spence and Skylight and they were unlucky to have three down, dropping them three places to fifth. Then it was the leader's turn and in came the young Portuguese star, Duarte Seabra with Brave Heart and he was unable to produce a clear. One down handed victory to Emily and she has now won the British titles at Pony, Under 18, Under 21 and Under 25 levels - quite an achievement for someone just 20 years old.

The final eventing competition of the day was also a close affair with five penalties covering the top five. Two down for last year's winner William Fox-Pitt put pay to any chance he had of retaining his title while a rail lowered for Emily Gilruth and Ashdale Cruise Master was enough to promote them from eighth to fifth. A clear from Piggy French and Some Day Soon ensured they finished on their Dressage score and promoted them up the order. One down from Ensign meant that Pippa Funnell lost their advantage and dropped them below Piggy while Andrew made up for his two down earlier in the day with a clear on the Spanish-bred Nereo.

So, could the local rider Nicola Wilson pull off her dream win? She cantered in looking composed with Master Banks and jumped each of the fences cleanly and cantered through the finish. The crowd erupted, delighted with a Yorkshire win, only for the commentator to announce she had incurred three time penalties and elation quickly turned to despair for Nicola and her connections but it handed victory to the Kiwi, his second Bramham title in three years.

"This horse is the best jumper I've ever sat on," said a jubilant Andrew. He continued; "I had to ride him tactically as he was un-nerved by the applause from Piggy's clear round but he is careful and will jump from whatever stride I put him on." Andrew also admitted its horses like this and the anticipation of the Olympics being in Britain (as he is based here) in which drive him to keep eventing.

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