News Focus on Gatcombe Park for RoR/NTF Eventing Championship

31st July 2019
  • Gold Nugget defends his crown while Dream Big dreams of going one better
  • Plus former Willie Mullins star, Arvika Ligeonniere, travels over from Ireland

This weekend it is Eventing’s turn to take centre stage among the list of disciplines in which former racehorses thrive when the RoR/NTF Retrained Racehorse Eventing Championship takes place at Gatcombe Park, forming an integral part of the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing.

It will be the second time that the Championship has been held at Gatcombe Park and the winner and runner-up from last year are returning to do battle once more. In 2018 Gold Nugget, ridden by Andrew Downes, denied Dream Big by just 0.1 of a penalty point to land the first prize of £2,000, part of the £6,000 prize fund put up by the National Trainers’ Federation (NTF).

The pair remain closely matched on their respective form this season. Dream Big’s rider Tom McEwen will be hoping that with another year on her back, the now eight-year-old mare can go one better. The pair will no doubt also face some fierce competition from other entries in the class.

Included among the 20 entries is Watergate Bay, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls and winner of the RoR Elite Eventing Champion Award 2018, together with a couple of horses boasting illustrious racing pedigrees who have found their niche in eventing rather than on the racecourse.

The seven-year-old David Cricket is out of the top mare Lady Cricket, whose victories included the Thomas Pink Gold Cup in 2000. David Cricket’s racing career did not match that of his mother and he was retired in 2016 after three races. Now ridden by Tina Cook, the 2009 European Champion and three-time Olympic medallist, David Cricket has been competitive at Intermediate level this season.

Arguably even better bred is Galley Proof, a seven-year-old gelding by Galileo out of a Listed race winning mare. Previously owned and bred by The Queen, Galley Proof was unplaced in two starts on the flat in 2015 for trainer William Haggas. Lucinda White has owned Galley Proof since he left training, he has taken well to eventing in the hands of rider Nicky Hill. Incidentally, his half brother Quadrille is one of the leading RoR dressage performers.

Travelling over from Ireland to compete at Gatcombe Park is the horse with the most notable race history in the class, the fourteen-year-old Arvika Ligeonniere. In the care of Willie Mullins and running in the familiar pink and green colours of Susanna Ricci, Arvika Ligeonniere won ten of his eighteen starts. He was last seen on a racecourse at Fairyhouse in 2014 when winning a Grade 2 Chase and won over £298,000 in prize money.

Now ridden by Meath-based Louise Duffy, Arvika Ligeonniere is thriving in a range of discplines and arrives in England fresh off success in a working hunter series final at the Tattersalls July Show in Kildare.

The RoR/NTF Retrained Racehorse Eventing Championship gets underway on Friday 2nd August with the dressage phase. The class is run as an ‘Intermediate Novice’ with the dressage and show jumping at Intermediate standard but the cross country on the Novice course. The top ten after the cross country on Saturday are invited back to show jump again on Sunday to decide the overall winner.

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