Blood is Thicker Than Water in Grand Prix at The David Broome Centre
The Wales Showground at Mount Ballan Manor near Chepstow is the home of legendary showjumper David Broome and hosts several international and national competitions every year including two FEI international showjumping events. David Broome was a world class horseman. The record of his medal tally for the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and the European Championships is iconic, never mind other medals he picked up on the way. Broome still holds the record for the most wins for the King George V Gold Cup, six of them between 1960 to1991, and each win on a different horse. His best known horses included Philco, Mister Softy, Beethoven, Lannegen, and Manhattan. At 79 years of age, David Broome still runs his equestrian centre near Chepstow as well as being involved with the administration of the sport both nationally and internationally.
David Broome on two of his best known horses Beethoven and Philco
David Broome’s parents moved to Mount Ballan Manor in 1947 where David has lived ever since. In 1968, his father Fred had the ambitious plan to open a world class equestrian centre on the 90 acres. His dream was to have an equestrian centre to rival any others anywhere, in Wales.
Like most dreams, the centre was started in a rather ramshackle way, but its quick popularity allowed it to expand into the show ground we see today. There are two large sand arenas, which unlike the early days are flat and perfect for horse competitions. On a corner of one, there is a replica of the ‘Derby Bank’ as featured at The All England Jumping Course at Hickstead. Everything is catered for at Mount Ballan including a large bar and restaurant for socialisation. It has come along way from the old caravan as a secretary’s office with rope dividing the arenas from other areas to a modern, friendly venue for competitors and visitors alike.
Over the August Bank holiday weekend, the venue had 40 odd showjumping classes for all ages and abilities of horse. Most classes were national affairs but there were also several international classes run under FEI rules. One such class, the most valuable of the four day show was the CSI 2* Grand Prix which had 49 starters. There were nine clears to go into the final jump off. The jump off was full of young protégées of well known retired show jumpers. Olympic gold medallist Peter Charles had three children competing, two of whom got first round clears, Scarlett, Sienna and Harry. Another rider with a clear round was Ellen McPherson but she sadly came a bot unstuck when her horse lost a shoe in the jump off. Graham Fletcher was closely watching his two sons Oliver and William. Oliver went through with a clear while William had a pole down. The other four first round clears went to Emily Ward, Keith Shore, Jake Saywell and Nigel Coupe.
Course designer from Italy, Andrea Colombo designed an open course with good relative distances between each obstacle. The highest jumps were no more than 1.45m. Three of the original 49 starters were eliminated due to having more than two refusals and a further three retired during their round. Of the others, apart from the clears, most only had one pole down each, The course designer must have taken heart that no single jump was responsible for the faults.
Emily Ward Winner of the CSI 2^ Grand Prix
Back to the showjumper off-spring. Ellen McPherson had an awful jump off where nothing seem to go right, the less said the better. Sienna and Harry Charles had one pole down each. Scarlett Charles however had no faults and was third riding Lordanos Junior in a time of 40.52 seconds. Oliver Fletcher was second riding Temple Rebus, again clear with 39.13 seconds. The winner was not a child of a noted show jumper. Emily Ward rode a great winning round clear in a time of 38.28 seconds riding Millionmind an Irish Sporthorse. They collected the £7,500 for their day’s work.
Under the trees at Mount Ballan