A bumper crowd enjoyed a day of thrilling sport at the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials where Britain’s Piggy French produced a superb display of fast, accurate cross-country riding to head an all-female line-up in the first leg of the Event Rider Masters.
The Dodson & Horrell Challenge, however, was the preserve of the male riders, with 21-year-old Cathal Daniels from Co Kildare, Ireland, enjoying a brilliant day, winning two out the three sections with the tiny mare Rioghan Rua and Sammy Davis Junior.
The third section fell to world number one Oliver Townend, from Ellesmere Port in Shropshire, who rode a perfectly judged cross-country round to finish just one second over the optimum time of 6 minutes 6 seconds.
‘This is some beautiful place,’ said Daniels admiringly of the Chatsworth estate, which was at its very best, bathed in glorious sunlight and with the House – now free of its scaffolding – forming the perfect backdrop to a weekend of world-class riding.
‘It’s been a great weekend. The mare is very special because I’ve done everything with her and Sammy Davis is super talented and my main hope for Irish squad at the World Equestrian Games.’
It was a good weekend for Irish riders with Sarah Ennis, winner of the Dodson & Horrell Challenge back in 2014 on Horseware Stellor Rebound, returning to Chatsworth to finish second in the Event Rider Masters ahead of Britain’s Izzy Taylor (Call Me Maggie May) and Laura Collett (Mr Bass).
Wills Oakden was best male rider in eighth place, just ahead of William Fox-Pitt, a perennial, popular rider at Chatsworth, in ninth place.
‘I am so over the moon,” said a delighted Piggy French, 37, an ambassador for Dodson & Horrell who was the quickest of the whole class on Quarrycrest Echo. It was the Maidwell, Northamptonshire-based rider’s biggest win since returning to competition after the birth of her son Max 20 months ago.
‘I sat in my wagon waiting for my turn and said to myself “Come on, do something useful”! Above all, my horse deserves a great day like this.’
Yet again Chatsworth delivered a happy weekend to nearly 400 horses and riders, not to mention spectators from near and far who were richly entertained with a wide variety of attractions.
‘We’ve had a thrilling weekend and it’s been an honour to be a part of such an impressive event,’ said Sam Horrell, CEO of Dodson & Horrell. ‘Sincere thanks to the army of volunteers who come here each year to support and ensure that everything runs smoothly. It’s been a fantastic weekend and wonderful to see so many competitors and spectators enjoying the atmosphere here at Chatsworth. We’re already looking forward to 2019!’