In pictures: Chatsworth International Horse Trials 2015

Oliver Townend gets a clear round in the cross country

Oliver Townend gets a clear round in the cross country - Credit: Archant

An impressive entry of both leading international riders and promising newcomers assisted in creating a thrilling and successful horse trials event at the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials

Pippa accepts the winner's trophy from the Duchess after a record third win

Pippa accepts the winner's trophy from the Duchess after a record third win - Credit: Archant

Experienced Irish rider Austin O’Connor took a first day lead in the Dodson & Horrell Challenge CIC3* on his exciting up-and-coming horse ‘Kilpatrick Knight’, while equine stars of the future took part in the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse qualifiers for four- and five-year-olds. Leicestershire trainer Antonia Brown and her accomplished young rider Eliza Stoddart had a great day, winning both qualifiers and guaranteeing two places in the final at Burghley in September.

By the end of the second day of competition, O’Connor’s lead had been overtaken after Olympic medallist, dual European champion and previous winner, Pippa Funnell, performed an effortlessly elegant dressage trial on ‘Sandman 7’. In second, just one penalty ahead of the first-day leader, was Emily King, 19, whose mother, Mary, won this class in 2007. The stage was set for an exciting third day of competition.

A clear showjumping round added to Pippa Funnell’s lead, giving her the luxury of a measured cross-country round in order to take home the Dodson & Horrell Challenge CIC3* trophy and £2,500 prize fund. Last year’s winner, the competitive Irish rider Sarah Ennis on ‘Horseware Stellor Rebound’ had to settle for second place and Emily King took third place on Brookleigh and collected the trophy for best under-25 rider and a cheque from the Horse Trials Support Group. Australia’s Paul Tapner finished fourth on ‘Prince Mayo’, while New Zealand rider Andrew Nicholson won both the advanced classes, on new ride ‘Perfect Stranger’ and ‘Jet Set lV’.

Huddersfield rider Lucy Hawley was thrilled to score her first international win in Section A, one of three CIC1* (international one-star level) classes, on ‘Helpful Harry ll’. Section B was another success for Pippa Funnell on her home-bred horse ‘Billy Walk-On’, while experienced New Zealander Dan Jocelyn won section C on ‘Phoenix L’. Derbyshire riders Maddy Moffett from Buxton and Tinky Morris from Dronfield collected the local rider prizes, the Brigadier Bill Trophy for the highest-placed owner-rider from the county and the Derbyshire Life prize for the rider who lives nearest to Chatsworth (an interview with Tinky will follow in next month’s issue).

Acknowledged as one of country’s key equestrian events, aside from the challenges of dressage, cross-country and show-jumping, crowds are attracted by the atmosphere, beautiful setting, excellent trade stands and a fun-packed programme of entertainment. New additions this year included the brilliant Sheep Show and a splendid demonstration by UK Rescue Bears, the Newfoundland Dog Rescue team.

Event director Patricia Clifton declared she was thrilled with the weekend. ‘I couldn’t believe the great crowds pouring in,’ she said. ‘It’s testament both to the huge amount of work that the whole team does behind the scenes and to the wonderful setting and exciting competition that Chatsworth provides. It’s been another very happy weekend.’