British Horse Driving Trials Association
Representing Britain

World Pairs Championships 2011
Conty, France
24-28 August 2011

Team GBR Drivers: Fred Pendlebury, David Matthews, Geoff Brown
Individual competitor: Owen Pilling
Chef d'Equipe: Derrick Mayes
Assistant Chef d'Equipe: John Pickford
Team vet: Anja Walker


Team GBR travel blog

by Sarah Meredith

Monday 28 August

Final Report. Sorry for the delay in sending the final blog, wireless internet access was once again intermittent to say the least!

As you can see by the results, not everything went Team GBs way. On the plus side, the drivers secured a very respectable 8th team place against some outstanding competition. It has been an enjoyable experience even though we have all had to cope with the extreme weather conditions ! On behalf of the drivers I would like to thank the GB supporters, especially those who travelled to Conty, team trainer Boyd and vet Anja who worked tirelessly in trying conditions, Derrick and Sue Mayes and John and Angie Pickford who gave their support to everyone and finally the sponsors.

Everyone seems to have arrived home safe and sound, probably going to bed as early as possible after what can only be described as a very exhausting but fun week. Next stop: unpacking ... cleaning ... repacking and off to Windsor !
Sunday 28 August

Final day - cone driving competition

The competition has finished, with Team GBR in 8th place (out of 18 countries).

Individual placings (69 competitors):

David Matthews - 15th
Fred Pendlebury - 31st
Owen Pilling - 48th
Geoff Brown - eliminated in the cones

Final results of World Pairs Championships 2011

Saturday 27 August

A huge well done to all 4 GB drivers and their teams !

All drivers went well on the marathon phase. Fred started the day again, being 4th off this morning, with the help of wife Beryl he negotiated all 8 obstacles with no major problems and has finished 36th on the marathon and is lying in 30th overall.

Next came David and brother Richard on the backstep. David drove fantastically and knocked seconds off the previous competitors in the obstacles. When the scores were displayed, David was 3rd on the marathon so far. Brilliant ! David finished in 5th place on the marathon which has moved him up to 4th place overall. He is only 9points behind Germanys leading lady driver Carola Diener, the stable manager for Team driver Christoph Sandman.

As David finished obstacle 8 the heavens once again opened. The rain was torrential along with thunder and lightning, something the ground around this area definitely does not need. The obstacles where already starting to cut up, the mud was getting deeper and deeper and the track around the last 4 obstacles became what can only be described as one huge mud bath. As the rain came down Geoff and Paul just started Section A.

Geoff worked hard and gave his normal 110% and the horses worked their socks off, he drove all obstacles smoothly but just overshot one turn in obstacle 8, the ground really took its toll on the horses, they had no let-up but Geoff?s horses came in as well as any of the other competitors. 

We had to wait till the end of the day for Owen to enter the obstacles, by this point the ground wasn?t looking good at all. The ruts where huge in obstacle 4 in particular, but Owen like the other 3 drivers had no major mishaps and completed the marathon unscathed.

At the press conference the winner of the marathon Tom Engber from Netherlands was asked how he won the marathon today, his reply was simple - he was lucky to be on so early in the morning and the ground conditions played a huge part in the results. In response the reigning world champion Harry Verstrappen said he may have been able to catch Tom but his late start in the day was against him, again due to the ground.

Results for the GBR drivers:

David Matthews - 5th in marathon (4th overall)

Geoff Brown - 26th in marathon (46th overall)

Owen Pilling - 33rd in marathon (43rd overall)

Fred Pendlebury - 36th in marathon (30th overall)

Friday 26 August

Today was the final day of dressage. Geoff started the day for Team GB, the horses were a credit to both Geoff and Paula, both looking fantastic especially considering the awful ground conditions due to the horrendous weather we had in the early hours. Once again we had a spectacular storm !

Warming up, Geoff?s horses behaved impeccably, however the atmosphere and entrance to the grand main arena was somewhat over whelming for one of them, I don?t think he appreciated the cameras, grandstand etc, although he did nothing drastic he appeared tense in parts of the test. Geoff drove well and is now as I write studying the obstacles along with David, Owen and Boyd.

Shortly after lunch it was David?s turn to negotiate the water logged and very well-trodden main arena. The whole turnout looked outstanding, considering the atrocious conditions we have all been working in. David?s test was what Boyd Excell described as the ?best test David has ever driven with his pair? and he was rewarded with a great score leaving him in 10th position overall.

Fred and David?s combined score has placed the team in 8th place on a score of 104.7, just around 20 points behind Germany in 1st place and 12 points behind Netherlands in 3rd, so still all to play for tomorrow!

I am having a few problems sending some pictures but I have about 250 to upload on Facebook. As soon as I can I will continue to try and send them through to the BHDTA for the blog.

Results after dressage

Thursday 25 August

The draw took place last night for the 2 days of dressage and for the marathon on Saturday.

Fred started Team GBR's campaign at 11:30 am with Jack and Chester, who both looked amazing; he produced a nice solid test scoring 57.09. At the break for dinner Fred was in 7th place, the leader on a 49.

We all made it back for lunch and a drink before Owen?s test at 3:40 pm. The sun came out and the temperature soared as Owen entered the main arena, both horses looking fantastic! Owen's test started off nicely, but unfortunately he had a small error of course so finished on a score of 67.46 dressage, including 5 penalties for the error of course, and is lying 30th.

The drivers at Conty: Owen Pilling, David Matthews, Geoff Brown and Fred Pendlebury

Fred's nice solid test has left him lying in 17th position after the first day of dressage. We still have Geoff and David?s tests tomorrow - Geoff?s at 9:30 am and David?s at 2:25 pm.

The marathon draw put Fred the first out again at 9:15 am on Saturday, then David at 11 am, with Geoff and Owen on at 12.55 pm and 14.25 pm respectively.

Boyd and the drivers are off around the marathon course at 5 pm today to check the route and watch out for any ?tricky? parts. There has been a lot of obstacle walking and Boyd has been advising on the routes he thinks will be the best for each driver. The weather will play a huge role as well, having looked at the forecast I think we are meant to have more sun. Good for the spectators, but not so much fun for the horses!

I am now off to help make Pimms, prepare smoked salmon and a whole host of other goodies for the Nations party tonight.

The final placings for the first day of dressage can be found at I have loaded another batch of photos onto Facebook if you want to have a look.

Photo: Fred Pendlebury in the dressage.




Photo: Owen Pilling in the dressage.

Wednesday 24 August

Most important news first. The early start to wash, plait and walk horses has paid off. All team GB horses have passed the vetting with no hitches.

Our inspection was scheduled for 11 am,  so everyone was ready for 10:30. The mud was a nightmare but all horses looked a picture and behaved whilst being vetted.

To say that it was a little hectic is an understatement, luckily there was only one loose horse and that was caught quickly, however a local man and lady with what looked like 2 heavy horses pulling metal sledges along the roughly tarmacked road didn?t go down too well with the horses and drivers !


The storm from Monday night seems to have been forgotten and everywhere is slowly but surely starting to dry up - with the exception of the walkway in the stable area, which is still like a mud bath ! Both Fred and Geoff are away training in one of the practise arenas which is situated in the village on the local football pitch. They will be followed by Owen and David this afternoon.

The opening ceremony commences at 3:30 this afternoon, for which Fred and Owen's spare horses are being put together as a pair so as to try and keep the dressage horses all as calm as possible. The organisers have decided that only the drivers are to walk behind their one turnout, so grooms are watching from the side lines, apart from Geoff?s groom Paul who is grooming for Fred with the 2 spare horses and the Chef d?Equipe, Derrick, who will ride on the carriage next to Fred.

Derrick is attending the Chef d?Equipes' meeting at 6 pm for the draw of the dressage orders on Thursday and Friday. Tonight is the official welcome party in the village. Hopefully the dressage draw will be kind and our driver?s won't have to be up too early in the morning.

The press office has finally opened so I should be able to get pictures on here very soon! If anyone wants to add me on Facebook I have posted quite a few pictures on there already - just look up Sarah Jane Meredith.

Dressage times: Thursday: Fred Pendlebury (14th) - 11:25, Owen Pilling (32nd) - 15:40. Friday: Geoff Brown (4th) - 09:30 and David Matthews (25th) - 14.25.

Marathon start times (Saturday): Fred Pendlebury - 09:15, David Matthews - 11:00, Geoff Brown - 12:55 and Owen Pilling - 14:25.

See the full list of start times

Tuesday 23 August

I think the text version is OMG !

We have had a storm to beat any we have had at home at events ! Our first night in Conty saw rain?thunder?lightning and gale force winds ! Thankfully we are parked in a secluded SHELTERED area with a line of trees either side of us so we have all been ?saved? from the worst! Walking around the lorry park on the opposite side of the lake where ALL the other teams are parked, you can see awnings blown over caravans, new lakes formed by the rain, and the start of muddy tracks that may rival any we have seen at Lowther, if the rain continues!

Walking into the stable area, the first thing you see is mud! Being on a stubble field, the rain has really made a mess! People are digging trenches around stables to try and remove the water. Geoff's horse ?Monty? seems to think he is at a Health Spa, having covered himself in a mud pack and one of David?s horses is being moved as he doesn?t like the swimming pool that has been formed in his stable!

On the plus side, the sun seems to be breaking through the clouds and we are starting to see blue sky!

Team GB have the practise arena to train with Boyd between 2 and 3pm today, so I will try to send another update tonight before the first official party begins - which everyone is looking forward to!

On a final note before I go to help clean muddy horses ? for all the dedicated team GB supporters who are coming out this week - don?t forget your waterproofs !!!

Monday 22 August

12 horses, 4 horseboxes, 9 carriages and what seems like one hundred pairs of helping hands have safely arrived at the 2011 World Pairs Championships in Conty, France.

After numerous phone calls it was decided that the Northern contingent, Geoff Brown, Owen Pilling and Fred Pendlebury, would meet up at Ashfields Carriage and Polo centre on Sunday before meeting up with David Matthews at Dover this morning. I am not sure if this was to ensure a fresh start this morning or just a good excuse for a Chinese and chat before it all got a bit more serious!

Everyone?s alarms were set for between 3 and 3:30 am, so we were sure we would leave Ashfields at around 4:30 am. We all caught the 8 am ferry and safely arrived in Calais. A convoy was created with the lorries and caravans and the 2.5 hour journey through France went smoothly, all arriving unscathed about 1 pm. 

The stabling is on a stubble field which is quite a walk from where the British camp has been set up, so we have had numerous trips with wheel barrows overflowing with feed, bedding and such like. We managed to get the horses into stables, awnings and gazebos set up before the heavens opened, followed by a very impressive thunder storm !

Numbers have been collected for horses and competitors along with 8 bottles of champagne! Everyone?s passes are being prepared?photos and all!

Unfortunately I do not have an internet connection at the minute, apart from on my Blackberry, but as soon as I do  I will post as many pictures as I can. Providing I can find internet connection I am hoping to send a report of the ?goings on? in Conty everyday.


Across the sea ... Horseboxes and trailers on the ferry and arriving at Conty. Pictures by Janet and Owen Pilling.




We are very grateful to our sponsors Hugh and Karen Scott-Barrett for their generous financial support for the team.

Team GBR clothing supplied by

Equestrian supplies from

We would like to thank
Bates of Lincoln
for the loan of 2-way radios

We wish to acknowledge the financial assistance provided by UK Sport  towards the training of the competitors.