Gemma Tattersall fulfilled one of her great ambitions when becoming British Open Champion at The Festival of British Eventing, presented by the British Equestrian Trade Association, after riding a brilliant, bold cross country round on the ex-racehorse Arctic Soul.
Gemma, 32, is riding a wave of confidence – the win was also her second in the Event Rider Masters series, in which she now tops the leaderboard.
Gemma was only 11th after the showjumping phase but she set a blistering pace on the scopey Arctic Soul to finish just three seconds over the optimum time. None of the others could catch her and, to her delight, she was still topping the podium when the last combination, Marcio Jorg and Lissy Mac Wayer, set out.
The Brazilian doctor, who is taking a year out to concentrate on the sport, put up a spirited challenge but had never ridden Gatcombe’s testing undulations before and finished an honourable seventh.
Last year’s winner, Oliver Townend fell at the fourth fence with Note Worthy, and Bill Levett, lying fourth going into cross country, also had a fall with Shannondale Titan on the later part of the course.
Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal finished runner-up on Balham Mist, Somerset-based part time farrier Alexander Bragg was third on Zagreb, by far his best result at Gatcombe, and Sir Mark Todd was fourth on the grey Kilubrid Rhapsody.
“Gatcombe is such a special event,” said an ecstatic Gemma, who now sets off for the European Championships in Poland on a wave of confidence.
“It’s the home of British eventing and I’ve been wanting to win the national title ever since I finished third in 2010 and it really fired me up.
“Arctic Soul is the best cross country horse in the world. I put on my brave pants today and we saw every fence right and every stride. I’ve never been so fast in my life.”