Dream start for Tom McEwen at the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing

Leading British rider Tom McEwen has made a dream start to the 2019 Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park.

His title defence of the Smith & Williamson British Intermediate Championship is already on the front foot as he has taken an early lead in the dressage phase with the excellent score of 27.2 on Barbara Cooper’s Dreamaway ll and he won the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse five-year-old qualifier on Mr and Mrs Fred Barker’s MHS Pop Star, described by judge Annabel Scrimgeour as “a big mover with a lovely loose, athletic movement.”

All this comes on the day Tom, whose horses are based at Gatcombe Park, was named for the team that will defend Britain’s European Championship gold medal in Luhmuhlen, Germany later this month.

Two of his team mates are already in the frame at the Magic Millions Festival of Eventing. Kristina Cook heads the RoR/NTF Retrained Racehorse Event Championship on David Cricket and world number two Oliver Townend, who has won 10 national titles here, has multiple rides this weekend, two in the top 10 after dressage in the Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship.

Oxfordshire-based Izzy Taylor leads the Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship on Springwind Vangelis with a mark of 28, just 0.3 ahead of William Fox-Pitt, holder of a record 16 national titles at Gatcombe Park, riding Graffenacht.

The winner of the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse 4 year old qualifier was a new face, Stephen Heal on Zoe Day and CG Eventing’s Klabatsoe.

In this special 90th anniversary year for the Pony Club, the Teme Valley branch enjoyed victory in the Inter-Branch Team Show Jumping sponsored by Nags Essential. Katie Thomas, Ellie Williams, Ffion Loring and Amber Skelton, riding her aunt Louise’s former five-star event horse Mr Potts, trounced 16 other branches. Their neighbours, the Clifton-on-Teme finished second ahead of the Ludlow.

Tomorrow, there will be a celebratory parade of 120 children and ponies representing the Pony Club in the main arena, where a full day of action starts at 8.00am with the show jumping phase of the Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship. Cross country starts at 10.50am.

“This year the elements have come together to give us the best going on the cross country course that we have seen for some time.  We’ve been cutting the grass since May so that it gives a much better cushioning for the horses,” reports course designer Captain Mark Phillips.

“We have had a good start to the competition here at The Festival,” adds Event Director Peter Phillips. “Spectators have enjoyed watching some exciting horse and rider combinations as well as the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse which showcases the five-star horses of the future and the Pony Club Inter-Branch Team Showjumping.

“There’s lots more action to come over the weekend, with plenty of fun family entertainment in the main arena as well as the conclusion of the Novice and Intermediate Championships.”

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