Coleplay claims Nunney’s international class

Showjumping at Bicton Arena

Showjumping at Bicton Arena - Credit: Archant

Sam Jennings was the resounding winner of the CIC2* at Nunney International Horse Trials riding Gill Johnson’s ten-year-old Coleplay, writes Lucy Johnson.

More than 800 competitors took part in the event which was held at Southfield House near Frome in Somerset and an array of tradestands, plenty of action over the fixed fences and show jumping in the main arena attracted a wealth of visitors.

Kent-based Sam lead after the dressage with a score of 35.8 adding 5.6 cross country time penalties to complete on 41.4, 5.4 points ahead of second placed Will Rawlin on VIP Vinnie. However the gelding nearly didn’t compete at all after finding the excitement of galloping across country too exciting.

Sam explained: “He was feeling so full of himself that my French groom Camille Saurrat had to lead him down to the start and then legged me up while the starter was counting down. It wasn’t very pretty, as he literally had to chuck me up. Thank goodness he’s very strong!” said Sam.

The cross country course proved big and testing with just one rider, Ian Wills who finished tenth, completing inside the time.

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“It’s a challenging course, but the organisers have done the most fantastic job with the ground as it rode really well,” said Sam.

Coleplay, who now heads to Barbury International for the three star next month, was a bargain purchase from Cavan Sales in Ireland as a three-year-old and has been produced steadily. “He was bought as a project and he has a really great attitude,” said Sam.

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Mrs Johnson, who lives near Gatwick, added: “We love coming to Nunney. Coleplay was ninth in the two star two years ago. It’s always a really friendly atmosphere.”

In third place was Parkfield Breeding’s Parkfield Quintessential, ridden by Zoe Wilkinson who had earlier won the BE100 five-year-old section riding Francoe PFB having scored a superb dressage score of 19.5 – the best of the competition.

In fourth and sixth was Wiltshire’s Kitty King riding the seven-year-old mare Creevagh Cooley and the nine-year-old gelding Mo Cuiske respectively. Kitty, who also won two novice sections riding Acis and Vendredi Biats, said: “The two star track is always tough but both my horses were fantastic and gave me a nice ride. The show jumping was a good track and didn’t cause too much trouble.”

Kitty, who won last year’s two star riding Ceylor LAN, added: “I enjoy coming to Nunney and the atmosphere is always really great.”

Organiser Alisa Hunter-Gordon said: “It was three fabulous days of competition and we’re delighted with all the positive comments we have received from competitors. Visitor numbers were up quite considerably to the point where we had to print off extra car passes and we were pleased that Friday, which is free, attracted plenty of spectators. Our title sponsors, Hopkins Concrete, who won the sponsorship through our Nunney 200 Club, had a wonderful weekend enjoying hospitality. There are so many people to thank, including all our volunteers and committee member Sam Griffiths, who is incredibly busy as a professional rider but provides us with so much help and advice.”

Rachel Kennedy, marketing manager at Kilver Court, said: “We were thrilled to be the Friday sponsor for this year’s event. It was a fantastic day of eventing with some really talented young riders competing alongside the seasoned professionals. It was also great to see a number businesses from the surrounding community coming together to be part of such an exciting local event – we’re looking forward to 2016 already.”

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