Wiltshire-based King held her nerve to jump clear as the last to go over yesterday afternoon’s showjumping finale in the flagship CCI-four star long class at the 2019 Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials to ensure that Rio 2016 Olympics team-mate Gemma Tattersall had to settle for second on Jalapeno III.
Tattersall was bidding for a brilliant double having won the short-format competition on Quicklook V on Saturday evening and the rider also finished sixth in the main class on Chilli Knight.
Another Brit, Selina Milnes, finished third on Iron IV while the Queen’s grand-daughter, Zara Tindall, sealed a top-ten finish in ninth on Class Affair.
Richmond’s Bramham debutante Katie Magee proved to be the top Yorkshire rider but there was no denying King on board 10-year-old gelding Vendredi Biats, who had finished fourth in the same event in 2018.
King, 36, blamed herself for being too slow over last year’s cross country test but all that remained after her 2019 triumph was the three-hour drive back to Wiltshire and plans to celebrate in rather modest fashion at the Hullavington Arms in Chippenham on Tuesday night.
“It’s lovely to finally be at the top of the podium here,” said King, second on her Bramham debut in the Under-25s in 2003.
“Fourth was a bit annoying last year – my time faults cross country kept us off the podium. I felt like I had slightly let him down but he was only nine and he did a great job and he came here this year with so much more mileage and experienced and he just cruised around the cross country and felt fantastic.”
Reflecting on how she might celebrate, King laughed: “Long drive home! And then probably meet up with some friends. We tend to go to pie night at the local pub every Tuesday so maybe we will have to upgrade to pies and Prosecco or something.”
King laid the foundations for victory with Friday’s impressive dressage test and score of 26.8, behind only Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On who were then wiped out of contention by picking up 20 penalty points over Saturday’s cross country test.
Nineteen combinations in the main class were either eliminated or retired on a miserable day of weather.
Yet King and Vendredi Biats went clear inside the time with only 0.4 time penalties added over yesterday afternoon’s showjumping finale.
That meant Tattersall had to settle for second but the week as a whole proved a highly significant one for the 34-year-old from West Sussex who had endured a “rubbish” last year.
“Thank God, Miss Tattersall has finally found some form,” said Tattersall.
“Honestly, I was this close to booking a holiday somewhere abroad and just leaving because every time I went into the yard there was something wrong with some horse or another.
“I was just thinking maybe it’s time that I needed to go and do something else for a month and come back refreshed. I thought ‘let’s just do Bramham’ and I have been aiming the two chestnut horse at the long format.
“All year this has been their aim so I thought ‘no, come on, let’s go to Bramham, it’s one of your favourite events, let’s just go and see if we can actually get a result’. Thank God we found our form.”
Tattersall and King may yet get a holiday of sorts to Tokyo next year with both riders advertising their claims for a second Olympic outing in 2020.
Yet only three GB riders will board the plane and every thought in West Yorkshire was reserved for conquering Bramham which featured 14 Yorkshire riders across the three main classes.
The best of them – Richmond’s Magee – finished 12th in the main class on Dollarney and also 30th in the short-format competition on Enceladus.
Northallerton Olympian Nicola Wilson finished fourth in that event on JL Dublin and 24th in the feature on Yacabo BK, while Grafton’s James Sommerville retired Altaskin Jack before cross country.
Earlier yesterday morning, Irish eyes were smiling on Cathal Daniels as the 22-year-old took the British Horse Feeds CCI four star long format under-25s class on Rioghan Rua.
Britain’s Yasmin Ingham led on Sandman 7 approaching the final phase but one fence down dropped the 22-year-old to second with fellow Brit Will Rawlin also putting one rail down on V.I.P Vinnie to ultimately finish third.
“I am delighted to be able to win such a big class,” said Daniels.
“Fortunately neither of us feel the pressure and she felt really confident. We had a few breath-holding moments in the round but, in the end she jumped clean and careful.”
In coming second, Ingham still became national Under-25 champion, completing the clean sweep having also been Under-21, Under-18 and Under-16 champion.
Richmond’s Storm Straker, the sole Yorkshire rider in the Under-25, had withdrawn Well Designed before cross-country with Magee somewhat over exceeding her own expectations. The rider now has a very set ambition to reach.
“I’d love to do a five star before I am 40 and I’m 37 now so I have got three years,” she said.
On this evidence she might only need one. But Bramham 2019 ultimately belonged to King who was making amends not just for finishing fourth last year but also setting the record straight after coming to grief over cross country at last month’s Badminton Horse Trials.
King beamed: “It’s been a wonderful week and it was just fantastic to be able to put Badminton behind us and come here and actually show everyone what the horse can do.
“I have always really believed in him and really known that he is a really capable, talented horse. It’s just nice that it has all finally come together at the right time for him.”
RICHMOND’S Holly Richardson hailed an “incredible” first Bramham after proving one of the star acts from Yorkshire in Saturday’s CCI four-star short class.
The class featured 12 riders representing the county with Northallerton Olympian Nicola Wilson finishing fourth on JL Dublin.
Victory went to Gemma Tattersall on Quicklook V, who edged out Laura Collett on Dacapo with Emily King third on Brookleigh as GB riders filled the first eight places.
Yorkshire’s riders also excelled with 25-year-old Richardson next best behind Wilson in 22nd on Caraghs Buffet after a clear round inside the time over cross country.
“It was an incredible experience and I felt extremely lucky to be there competing there against all the top riders,” said Richardson. “I am absolutely over the moon with my little horse.”
Richardson finished two places above another Bramham debutante in Wetherby’s Morgan Kent, who is thriving as an eventer.
Kent is better known as a showjumper and went double clear on Felda inside the time to finish 24th. Richmond’s Katie Magee finished 30th on Enceladus, followed by Womersley’s Sophie Platt on Be Be III in 35th.
Both riders were clear over cross country with Platt also inside the time and also competing on Caesar II, who was retired over cross country.
In 42nd, Bingley’s Charlotte Brear emotionally completed her fourth Bramham on board Manor Missile who has recovered from laminitis. Both Brear and Scarborough’s Phil Brown, who finished 46th on Harry Robinson, were clear over cross country.
Harrogate’s Hazel Towers finished 50th on Simply Clover, while Weeton’s James Rushbrooke completed his first Bramham, finishing 52nd on Zelandnew BK.
York’s Christopher Whittle was another Bramham debutante and he went clear over cross country to finish 54th on Skip Mill.
Thirty four years after her mum Helen won the Under-25 class, Breckenbrough’s Chloe Bell also completed her first Bramham, finishing 56th on Javas Spice. Bedale’s Sara Bowe eventually retired Kilcoltrim Mermist over cross country.