Nineteen-year-old Noah Brook became the inaugural – and runaway – winner of The TopSpec Challenge for The Corinthian Cup at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park.
Riding Deo Volente III, a seven-year-old owned by Paul Crompton he stormed to victory around the undulating park land.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself this morning before the show jumping as I was in the lead after the dressage at Chatsworth CIC1* earlier in the year and had two fences down,” said the Huddersfield-based rider, who ironically could have afforded two rolled poles on this occasion, such was his winning margin (of more than 10 penalties).
Noah has just set up on his own having previously worked for showjumper Andrew Saywell and spent two years under the tutelage of renowned trainer and producer Judy Bradwell. He took on Deo Volente III at the end of last season from the horse’s previous rider Piggy French.
“His owners weren’t sure how far he’d go initially, but he keeps getting better and better,” said Noah. “I’m very grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to ride him.”
Runner-up Sarah Chittleburgh partnered possibly the smallest horse ever to gallop across Gatcombe’s hallowed turf. Her mare Sari De Lobelle stands at just 14.1hh, but that didn’t stop her producing a fast, faultless double clear.
“I bought Sari four years ago as a five-year-old thinking that I’d quietly produce her for the pony market while enjoying competing her myself,” explained Sara, 25, who works as an equine osteopath and massage therapist. “She’s got so much scope; she’ll happily go on to intermediate level.”
Of the new National Restricted Novice Championship, Sara added: “To ride alongside the best in the world and feel included – and be part of – the main competition has been such a fantastic experience.”
Cathrine Taylor followed her third place in the BE100 Badminton Grassroots Championship with a third place here aboard Lynn Ferguson’s 12-year-old mare, Lorelei.
“She’s such a fun horse to be around and never has a bad day,” said Cathrine, who is based at Somerford Park Farm in Cheshire.
Captain Mark Phillips’ new cross country course caused relatively few problems among the 63 cross country starters – there were 46 clear rounds but the combination of Gatcombe’s undulating terrain and unique atmosphere ensured there were still a few thrills and spills, especially at the water.
“The TopSpec Challenge for The Corinthian Cup has been a fantastic competition and one that we are very proud to sponsor,” said Nicola Tyler of TopSpec. “It has been great to watch amateur riders take the stage alongside the seasoned pros and I look forward to seeing some of them returning to The Festival of British Eventing next year.”