British Horse Driving Trials Association
Representing Britain


World Combined Pony Championships
Lipica, Slovenia

21-25 September 2011

Singles: Tracey Fletcher and Sue Denney
Pairs: Anna Grayston and James Broome
Fours: Wilf Bowman-Ripley and Sara Howe
Individual entry:
Julie Camm (singles)

Chef d'Equipe: Jill Holah
Assistant Chef d'Equipe: Sue Mart
Team Vet: Holly Applewhite
Team Equine Physio: Nicola Baguley
Team GBR travel blog

by Mary Jane Campbell

Sunday 25 September

The single ponies went well this morning ? everyone was up early to walk the cones course which was only open for an hour before the first competitor entered the arena at 9.00. It was a beautiful day ? nearly too hot for sitting in the sun at midday.

The cones course had 3 multiple elements and several technical turns. There was one particular cone ? number 19, which caused a lot of grief during the day. This cone was situated in the top corner, in front of the stands and was responsible for the majority of the trouble. It was odd because number 7 on the other side of the arena was a mirror image but that one caused no grief. Probably just due to the extra stress of driving the penultimate cone.

Anna Grayston in the cones

Sue had a cone down ? not number 19, and a few time penalties, Tracey had a lovely clear round and finished with just 0.86 time penalties, to come 4th in the cones competition. Julie also had a clear round but her time was slower. There were only a few double clears towards the end of the class and Dennis Schneiders (Germany), in first place before the cones, had a very poor round and dropped to 4th overall. The winner of the class was Kristina Klint (Denmark).

Update on Saturday Obstacle 4, on which Barry Hilditch was a steward, and had an eventful day. It was a challenging obstacle, mainly fairly open with long sweeps from one side to the other, set in a big dip in the ground. The highlight (?) of their day being Josef Dobrovitz Jnr, who instead of driving E, had the misfortune to catch one element with his leaders and knock it down. He then went straight on to gate F. There was much discussion by officials about the consequence of this, given that he did not really drive the E element. On Saturday evening he was eliminated, then later on Saturday night he was reinstated, but by Sunday morning he was back on an eliminated score, which all the armchair pundits felt to be correct. I am sure that the Hungarians were less happy, but he did come and compete in the cones and set a challenge to everyone else by driving a double clear.

Sara Howe

There were only a couple more double clears in the pony team class ? one being for Bram Chardon, the Pony Fours winner.

Back to Sunday. In the pony pairs, Anna collected a number of time penalties but Laddie, the pony she borrowed from Alan Clarke went well and her 6 year old Harry rose to the occasion (as he had on the marathon) and went round very steadily. James? round was speedier but he knocked down a number of cones and dropped backed in placings.

Pony fours and Wilf drove the now rolled course positively, but the bogey number 19 got him, and he also collected a few time penalties. Sara put in a good round but again collected time penalties. Her ponies have been terrific ? it was their first world championship and they took in all the sights and sounds but were completely un-phased.

Summary. In my opinion ?Man of the Match? should go to Sara Howe who was a consistent performer throughout. James had his moment of glory, which was important to the team score as well. Last but by no means least are the unsung heroes who do not get any lime light but without whom the show would not go on ? Jill Holah (Chef d'Equipe) and her assistant Sue Mart who between them (amongst numerous other tasks) saw to all the practical arrangements, sorted out the paperwork, measured the 1km walk section (several times), because initially it was not 1Km, and made sure everyone was in the right place at the right time.

Tracey Fletcher

A big thank you must also go to team trainer Boyd Exell, who has a special knack for bringing out the best in people at stressful times. Competitors commented on how his attention to detail, and ability to assess the state of the ponies and the driver in the warm up arenas meant that they entered the ring in a positive state of mind with the ponies neither warmed up too little or too much. He worked tirelessly on marathon day to make sure everyone had the best chance of doing well, and again on cones day to get the best out of some tired ponies and anxious drivers.

Also supporting the team, and a key piece of the jigsaw that makes up a travelling team were Holly the vet and Nicola the physio. They luckily did not have an especially eventful time but were able to provide reassurance when it was needed that the ponies were in the best possible shape. Marathon day kept them especially busy; in the taxi back to the airport they commented on how nice it was to see some of the countryside as they had arrived in the dark and had not stepped off the show ground since their arrival. Thanks go to them for giving up their holiday to come and help.

Discussions are already starting about what can be learned from the experience and how to build on the knowledge for next time. The standard of competition appears to improve year after year, and it was pleasing to see the number of young drivers competing ? the most junior was 14. It was clear that we need to look at ways that UK dressage standards can be improved, however, barring incidents we are up with the best in the marathon (and much quieter and generally with a neater driving style).

The marathon at these championships was well designed, with a mix of mainly fast routes and some technical options to give choices to the drivers, as well as using the terrain to best effect. Our marathon courses need to be flagged to resemble this to keep our drivers in touch. It also made exciting viewing for the crowds. Our cones driving also held its own more or less, against the international standard.

Well done all ? I hope they have a safe journey home. We flew back on Sunday afternoon, missing the closing ceremony I am afraid, but we did see all of the cones - just. I am typing this in the car, as it is back to work on Monday morning.

Best wishes,

Mary Jane Campbell

Final placings for GBR drivers:

Singles: Julie Camm (16th), Tracey Fletcher (22nd), Sue Denney (27th)
Pairs: James Broome (16th), Anna Grayston (18th)
Fours: Sara Howe (8th), Wilf Bowman-Ripley (EL)

Team GBR finished in 4th place.


Saturday 24 September

James Broome

The good news ? James Broome was 2nd in the marathon in pony pairs and overall the team have moved up from 5th to 4th place.

However it was a day of up and downs. Sue and Tracey were the fastest in one obstacle each, but both collected 20 penalties for a corrected error of a course.

Tracey was unlucky in that her pony slipped in the water and the forward propulsion pushed her through a gate.

Sara was unfortunate because in the first obstacle one of her ponies got a leg over the trace, but luckily it righted itself, and she carried on without further mishap. Speaking to her later on she was delighted with her ponies first outing to a championships.

Julie Camm had a steady round and achieved the 5th fastest of the day in the water.

Wilf had an excellent crack at the obstacles, but got in a muddle with the route and was eliminated for doing compulsory flags in the wrong order.

Several supporters were roped in to help on the obstacles. There was at least one Brit on each obstacle as well as some on the sections. Our job was to help describe any problems to the officials. There were a few exiting moments. Sally Moreton on obstacle 6 had various competitors breaking pole straps and traces and some very wobbly moments, but no serious harm.

Julie Camm

James Campbell was in the control tower passing on messages from the radios from one frequency to another. We were all given green T shirts to wear as stewards. The electronic timing worked well on the whole but the back up stop watches were essential.

At the end of the event we were all invited to the hospitality tent and given goulash with polenta, a bun and a drink ? very welcome! We are all off now to cheer for James at prize giving tonight at 9.00.

We hear you all enjoyed watching on the internet - you probably saw more that we did. The atmosphere was great and there were some very noisy supporters and some even noisier drivers! The weather stayed fine all day and not too hot.

Placings in the marathon:

Julie Camm - 27th (16th overall)
Sue Denney - 29th (29th overall)
Tracey Fletcher - 30th (28th overall)

Anna Grayston - 24th (21st overall)
James Broome - 2nd (12th overall)

Sara Howe - 10th (9th overall)
Wilf Bowman-Ripley - EL (Eliminated)

Team GBR is in 4th place


Friday 23 September

Tracey Fletcher

Last night?s party was a much more subdued affair, most the competitors were concentrating on their forthcoming competition, the only class which was completed yesterday was the pairs.

This morning dressage started promptly at 9.00 with no hitches. The first music over the loud speaker system was Handel?s Water Music ? just to keep Philip on his toes !

Our first competitor of the day was Tracey, who did a very smooth test. She had the misfortune to follow a very exuberant moving pony and the judges gave her a 54.14. Julie Camm was after the break and put in a solid performance to give a score of 48, which puts her in 7th place.

The Pony Fours started mid morning with Sara being the last competitor before lunch. I met her walking obstacles later in the afternoon and she described her ponies as ?awesome?. They did everything that was asked of them, did not make any mistakes and she was happy with her score of 59.01. Sara commented that Boyd?s help in the warm up arena was invaluable; he built up her confidence, knew when to push the ponies and ensured she stayed calm.

Wilf diving Faith?s pony team was the last driver of the class. Faith was delighted with how her ponies went and Wilf drove them very sympathetically, to achieve his best international score of the season of 51.20 and finish 7th place. Faith was very proud of her Welsh Cobs. Wilf looked very smart in what we all took to be a new hat, but apparently he borrowed the Panama only moments before the start. It certainly did the job!

Wilf Bowman-Ripley

Many of the British crowd have been roped in as stewards for marathon day. They have a meeting at 7.30pm in the Klub Hotel ? so not too much of a lie-in for those holiday makers tomorrow.

Slovenian Night starts at 8.00 in the main marquee with presentation of prizes at 9.00pm. We are currently lying in 5th place in the team competition with all to play for over the next two days.

Team GBR placings after the dressage competition are:

Singles: Julie Camm - 8th, Tracy Fletcher - 18th, Sue Denney - 19th. There are 32 competitors in the class.
Julie Camm is competing as an individual, so is not part of the Team scores.

Pairs: Anna Grayston - 5th, James Broome -17th. There are 27 competitors in this class.

Pony Fours: Wilf Bowman-Ripley - 7th, Sara Howe - 13th. There are 18 competitors in this class.

The British Team are in 5th place, only 0.12 penalties behind Hungary !



Main Arena Panorama.
More pictures from Lipica can be viewed in the Photo Album

Thursday 22 September

Internet breakdown here on Thursday night - but now OK again - fingers crossed. Apologies for the late blog.

Wednesday night went well ? at Nations Night the scones and clotted cream evaporated fast and the Pimms hardly hit the sides. We were the first table that people came to as they entered the marquee ? an abundance of Union Jacks, patriotic plates, napkins and decorations. The rest of the stands supplied an abundance of smoked sausage, gherkins, herrings, air dried ham and vodka in various disguises. The Americans had great burgers, the Belgians good beer, and the Swiss delicious chocolate. All these offerings were consumed at random, making a very eclectic supper.

James Broome in the dressage

Then the music stared ? VERY LOUD but good fun for dancing, which went on until the small hours. The French men and women in little white skirts put on a red, white and blue dance routine. The Polish had a balancing competition which was won by a Swiss boy. The prize was a bottle of vodka, so I hope he was an appropriate age! Mia Allo led the Belgians in a dance routine which impressed the spectators. It was a good party ? Garry was heard to complain this evening that his rib muscles were sore from punching the air during vigorous dancing.

So to Thursday ? the first day of dressage.

At 9.00 am, the 5 judges are in their booths, the first competitor is ready in the warm up arena just outside the main arena, the second competitor is in the warm up area a little further away. A message comes over the radio ? Andrew Counsel (President of the Jury) to Philip Bateman ?what is going on, we are all here getting wet?. Philip to Andrew ?I am aware of the problem I am getting wet too?. On the dot of 9.00 am the automatic sprinklers had come on in the main arena. The problem was solved by pulling the plug ? but then there were no electrics for the scoring ! Three minutes later the show was on the road and the first competitor came through the tunnel and entered the ring ? completion starts. It turned out later that a disgruntled ex-employee had programmed the sprinklers as a gesture of defiance. Luckily quick thinking (and acting) resolved the issue without too much delay in the program.

Anna Grayston

Our first competitor today was James Broome, who finished on a score of 60.42. He enquired about getting his dressage sheets but was told they would not be available until he collected his passports at the end of the show (is this part of the judge protection scheme ?). He observed that dressage sheets were like prawn crackers with a Chinese take away, if you did not get them fresh you were unlikely to give them a second glance.

Anna Grayston was our second competitor who had a young pony, Harry (6), in her pair due to problems with her more experienced pony which she ended up leaving behind. She was very pleased with her score of 47.53, and received a message of congratulations from Barry Marshall her dressage trainer who had watched it live on his computer, saying that she went better than they ever had in training.

Sue Denney with Rolly was the first single of the day. He went well and Sue was pleased with him. She is currently lying in 6th with a score of 54.53. Just before her test there was an influx of spectators, they clearly thought that the halt in the middle of the test was the end and clapped her appreciatively. Rolly clearly lapped up the encouragement and went on with the test calmly, but with additional enthusiasm.

Sue Denney

Weather today has been fine but with a chill wind ? ideal really. There was a course walk for the singles with Boyd Exell at 4pm and training has been fitted in during the day for the Friday competitors. This evening after the Chefs meeting, some very fetching large white nylon number vests were distributed to the competitors ? so much for synchronised driver/groom marathon shirts! Another party is scheduled for tonight. These championships certainly demand all round stamina!

Thanks to Vic for editing the blog and sorting out my spelling and editing the pictures. More tomorrow. The internet is down in my hotel at the moment so I am off to the posh one up the road to try and send you this.

About 25 more Brits turned up yesterday, so we are doing well in supporter numbers.

Placings after first day of dressage:

Anna Grayston (pairs) - 5th place
James Broome (pairs) - 17th place
The pairs class is now finished, so these are the final placings.

Sue Denney (singles) is in 7th place, with another 20 competitors still to go on Friday.


Photo right: British supporters.



Wednesday 21 September

The trot up started at 11.00 and the GB running time was about midday.

There was a team photo with ponies looking very smart, plaited and rugged up in GB team blue summer sheets. The humans looked quite respectable as well ? beige trousers, blue team GB Toggi shirts (tucked in of course), caps, shoes polished and wearing their best smiles.

Team photo - click the picture to see a larger version

Then on to the trot up itself. There were 2 lanes running to enable the judges to get through all the ponies in time for lunch, 90 in pony fours, 85 in pairs and 36 singles. It turned out to be fairly nerve wracking for the Brits. 2 of Sara Howe?s ponies were sent to the holding box having had 2 goes at the trot up, the judges were not quite satisfied. Julie Camm suffered the same fate but she also had the misfortune to trip on her run up so thought that she was sent for a second go because of this. However she also went to the holding box.

In the holding box, the ponies were checked over by an official vet before being summoned back to trot up again. For the third attempt the judges from both lanes come to observe the pony in question and then there is a secret ballot, yes or no, which is counted and the majority decision prevails. Fortunately all our ponies passed on the third go, although Sara had to go though the agony of being told that one of hers had failed but then the stewards had a recount and it became clear that they had missed one paper on the first count.

The ponies were then put back in the stables, plaits out, and at 1.30 the teams reassembled outside the main arena for the opening ceremony that started at 2 pm. Plenty of Union Jacks were in evidence. The countries came in alphabetical order, but according to their Solvenian names, so we were second last as Great Britain in Slovenian is Velika Britanija. The Americans were last as United States is Zdru?ene dr?ave Amerike (thank you Google Translate) ! However the commentator was running on the English alphabet which caused a little confusion.

The ceremony was conducted efficiently and the competitors listened to short welcoming speeches before being able to take up seats in the stands to watch a quadrille or Lipizzaner stallions performing to music and a brief but fast and furious display by drivers of 2 pairs bred by the stud.

No peace for the Chefs d'Equipe. At 3 pm was the draw, and  at 4 pm a course walk (by tractor) for the Chefs, followed by a similar ride at 5 pm for the competitors. Meanwhile there are ponies to exercise and preparations for the Nations night, which is at 8 pm tonight.

Dressage starts at 9.00 am tomorrow with pony pairs. Our first competitor is James Broome at 11.15, Anna is at 14.25 (second to last of her class). The first half of the singles start at 15.10 with Sue Denney. There is live streaming of the whole competition available on

On Friday morning the rest of the single ponies have the arena. Tracey goes at 9.20 and Julie at 11.45. The teams start after lunch at 13.30. Sara is at 14.50, and Wilf last but one at 16.35.

Many more supporters have arrived today - Di Hayes, Nicola Blandin, Francis Collings among them.




Photo: arena display at the opening ceremony

More pictures can be seen on the BHDTA Facebook page


Tuesday 20 September

The support team: Holly Appelwhite (vet), Sue Mart (assistant Chef), Nicola Baguley (physio)
and Jill Holah (Chef d'Equipe).

The sun has come out - hurrah! This morning the team had an allocated time in one of the grass practice arenas - and all ponies had clearly travelled well, some were feeling particularly full of themselves. Jill Holah has been ensuring everything is organised. She has brought out a battery operated pressure washer that may be useful for providing a spray mist at the halt if it gets very hot.

This afternoon the Brits were allocated their slot (only 35 minutes) in the main arena, as time was short not all of them took the chance to sample the atmosphere, the music was playing and there was a number of spectators, mainly fellow camp dwellers, so it gave a flavour of what is to come.

Preparations around the show ground are moving on well. The organisers have been incredibly helpful - even with small issues like broken door catches on one stable, and problems with the electrics. They have come to sort them out quickly and cheerfully.

The obstacles are now flagged. The obstacles are all within easy reach of each other, there is to be a 5 minute interval between drivers so it should make it possible to follow the drivers progress fairly easily. We shall not know the order until after the draw at 3pm tomorrow afternoon.

This afternoon at 4.30 there was a tour round the Lipica stud which was fascinating - there are 82 mares here, of which about half are bred each year. We also saw the mares being herded back into their houses for the evening.

The opening ceremony is at 2pm tomorrow afternoon, following the trot up at 11am, so Wednesday will be busy.

The main arena

Lipizzaner mares

Please check out BHDTA Facebook page for more pictures.

Monday 19 September

Some precision parking in the GB camp.

The gates were opened at 6.30 in the morning and at 19.10 this evening, 77 competitors have arrived with only 6 still to come. The welcoming party had a tough time in the wind and rain, the vets taking the temperature of ponies arriving and checking for nasal discharge, and the stewards battling with damp paperwork.

The British camp have all set up in their designated area, the organisers have been fantastic supplying additional stone for hard standing, pruning stray branches with a ladder bucket as needed in order to squeeze all the lorries and trailers in. There was a certain amount of shunting to fit in the Bowman Ripley trailer, so that the sides could be used to store carriages in the dry.

James' carriages are sharing this space which means he does not have to use his awning. Everyone arrived in one piece, subject to a couple of new tyres and now they are able to relax a bit a before the pace ratchets up tomorrow when the team trainer, Boyd Exell, will be on site.

Chefs d'Equipe Jill Holah and Sue Mart have gone off to Trieste airport to collect Boyd and Wilf. Faith Szczuka (owner of the ponies Wilf is driving) was collected from a toll booth close to Lipica, so she came onto the show ground with the ponies, which was very helpful as Zoe was finding it a struggle to identify them by the names in their passport (she is more familiar with their stable names!)

The rest of us have been dodging rain showers, some very heavy, and discovering the local supermarket. Then there is an interesting unmanned Museum of the Horse. You go through the main door into a dark passage and the lights come on as you move about - quite spooky really!  More news tomorrow.

Sunday 18 September

The journey started for the first group of drivers at 2am on Friday morning, setting off from Ashfields and heading for Baden Baden in Germany on Friday night. These were Sue Denney and her pony Roly and Faith?s team, who were driven out by Zoe Morgan and James Campbell. Being the older ponies the plan for them was to have a full rest day on Sunday at the Gloch Performance Centre at Villach in Austria. This is 6 star accommodation for ponies, with hot showers and a solarium.

The others left for Calais on Friday afternoon. Sara Howe had a few hours delay while her export papers were sorted out, but James Broome, Sara, Anna Grayston and Julie Camm all met up on the other side of the channel. Their next stop was Baden Baden, where James discovered he had a feline stowaway ! The Calais cat had taken a liking to his lorry and when the ponies were led off for the overnight stop the cat came out for a leg stretch as well. James? departure from the stabling was then delayed while he negotiated B&B for the cat, which he will pick up again in a week?s time and return to the yard in France from which it made its break for freedom !

Sunday evening, and all safely arrived in Austria. Team BR ( Bowman Ripley) and Team Denney having had a peaceful day, looking after ponies, a spot of sight seeing ? the stables are in a beautiful valley overlooked by spectacular mountains, and sampling a local brew. The others arrived in the afternoon and got settled in. The plan is to leave about 7.00 am, in order to arrive when the show ground opens at 9.00 on Monday morning.  Inside information ? in fact some of the continental lorries are expected earlier than that and Philip Bateman, the Technical Delegate and his one FEI steward who is already in place - Sally Moreton - are going to be ready for arrivals from 6.30 am as they do not want the surrounding roads, some of which are reasonably narrow, blocked by wagons.

Jill Holah, the GB Chef d'Equipe, arrived by car on Sunday afternoon. Sue Mart (assistant Chef) and Holly the vet arrived by plane from Birmingham to Trieste. Lipica is about 40 minutes drive from the airport. Sydney Smith and Sally, who had a hire car took the luggage while the 3 of us went to investigate options for a bus or taxi. In the end the taxi prevailed and at 80 Euros for the trip, we will try and investigate a mini bus for next Sunday afternoon, when there will be several people wanting to make the return trip.

We arrived at the show ground in a thunderstorm and it has rained all evening. We booked into the Hotel Klub, which is basic but the room has an effective shower. It is a large building set round a court yard, all built in the Soviet era. It was dark when we arrived so have not been able to explore yet.

Jill and Sue are meeting at 8.00 am on Monday morning to go down to the stables to ensure they are clearly marked and to check on the parking area, which is mainly all hard standing - a blessing given the current weather. Meanwhile I will be sorting out the internet connection. If you read this will meant that I must have got it working ! There will be pictures to follow.

Monday morning - it has rained most the night and is still doing so. Just waiting for the first Brits to arrive.