CIAT Sandringham 2022
- Rosemary Neale -
Well what a roller coaster ride! First it was on, then it wasn't, then it was but we didn't have stables, then we had stables but not enough competitors, then we lost competitors to Covid but finally with slightly depleted numbers but no lack of quality we did it! The weather forecast for the weekend had been dire – rain all weekend but fortunately the British weather forecasters got it wrong again and even though it was a bit windy (which resulted in a few lost hats!) the sun shone for most of the weekend. Our 17 competitors comprised mainly single ponies both small and large, with our smallest being Pat Ainsworth with Rocky a 36 inch palomino Shetland pony driven to a 1913 Governess Cart by the Dundee Carraige Company. Sadly no multiples although we had been promised two turnouts from the Royal Household but they were engaged elsewhere with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations and we were denied any coaching entries as the Coaching Club Meet was cancelled because, like us, they could not secure a venue for a formal dinner. We had two tandems entered but for various reasons both appeared as singles – pony and horse to swell the numbers in those classes. Particularly pleasing was that we had three 'Newcomers' – people who had not competed in AIAT before and it is clear that the Salisbury Bursary, generously sponsored by Richard James for the two highest placed newcomers has been very successful in encouraging people to try AIAT for the first time – no one has been disappointed and everyone has said they will come to AIAT events again!
Friday started with the usual welcome Pimms and 'bacon butties' with everyone being so pleased to be back on the beautiful Sandringham Estate. We changed the format slightly for Saturday so that participants began the Routier immediately following their Presentation. Our three judges, Richard James (President of the Jury), Elizabeth Cartwright-Hignett and Modris Kesans were all overwhelmed by the quality of the turnouts presented to them. A sub-10 score is highly sought after and at this event there were 7! Jimmy Jeffrey won the best Presentation and the Steve Jarman Memorial Trophy with his lovely Varnished Dog Cart by Jacksons of Edinburgh put to a pair of Friesian x Highlands on a score of 3.83, closely followed by Sharon Wootton with a score of 4.33 with her and Derek Wootton's unusual 1900 black and cream Phaeton by Laurie of Paisley put to her Welsh Section C Lodeside Sir Harry.
Another change was that, mindful of global warming and the cost of fuel we decided, like CIAT Elveden before us, to forgo the usual drive round the Routier and instead video'd the Routier which was then uploaded to YouTube. A link was sent to all competitors and also onto our Facebook page Carriages at the House – we even had people in Australia and Europe watching it! Its still there if you want to have a look!
Jimmy Jeffery went on to be awarded the stunning John Ousbey Memorial Trophy for Professional Carriage Restoration – a fitting tribute to our much missed friend Rodney Ousbey as this was the last carriage he renovated prior to his untimely death due to Covid. The trophies had been found in Rodney's workshop after his death and were given to CIAT Sandringham to give more prominence to the carriages in the event – after all AIAT is all about the carrriages! The second trophy, for Amateur Carriage Restoration was presented to Liz Harcombe for her Canterbury Cart by Ingates of Aylesham which earned her a presentation score of 9.42. This carriage was found in pieces having been stored on its side in a barn for 25 years. Lovingly restored by Liz, she rubbed down and repainted all the iron work, revarnished the woodwork and removed and polished all the brass fittings, until as she says her arms nearly fell off!
The Routier of 12 kms (6kms for the very small pony) was much enjoyed by the competitors, taking them out of the Estate and down Kings Avenue past the stunning Royal Stud and out into the countryside, past Anmer Hall, home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and then on to tackle the five Passages Controllees – or Difficulties. These were a Rail (straight) a left-handed one handed circle, the Putting Away (which caused the most trouble!) the Drinking Glass (again causing a bit of trouble) and, coming back into the Sandringham Estate park, a Halt on the Hill. Horses and ponies were then put away to enjoy a well deserved rest while the humans prepared for the evenings festivities. Fortunately everyone had entered into the spirit and there were some beautifully decorated gazebos and amazing food! The organisers had engaged a magician to entertain us and he was a great hit – especially passing a wine bottle through a table!! How did he do that????? The group comprising Brian and Anna Hunter, Liz Harcombe, Claire Bourne and their various entourages were awarded the lovely owl trophies made from horse shoes for the best decorated gazebo and best picnic.
Sunday dawned bright and clear and the competitors were able to tackle Paul Mill's flowing cones course. Ruth Martin had the only double clear with Merioneth Tymesti ap Storm put to an 1895 Spindle Back gig by Lawton of Liverpool , but several competitors only had minor time penalties. In the final shakeout, it was Sharon Wotton who headed up the large pony class, with Kelly Searle, driving Stockdale Black Prince to a 1900 Studebacker gig in second place, her 'nul points' on the Routier securing her the Best Newcomer accolade – even though she admitted to never having driven a cones course before! A highly delighted and tearful Pat Ainsthorpe was declared the winner of the small pony class with Liz Harcombe running her a close second. Single horse class was won by Kimberley Titmus with a new carriage this year, a stunning black and yellow 1920 Manchester Gig put to her faithful cob, Troy. The pairs were in classes of their own (literally) with Jimmy Jeffrey the only horse pair and Claire Bourne, driving her British Spotted ponies Bubbles and Domino to a 1900 Phaeton by Mills of London the only pony pair but nothing can be taken away from her as she finished on an overall score of 12.70 giving her 5th place overall.
Sharon Wootton was awarded the Supreme Champion Sash which was delightful as this was her first competition this year due to husband Derek's emergency triple heart bypass. Kimberley Titmus was a worthy Reserve Champion but its true to say that every competitor took the best horse or pony home!
Of course we must never forget the legions of sponsors, stewards, judges, officials and everyone who gives up their time entirely voluntarily to enable this event to take place. Huge thanks to HRH Prince Charles and the Royal Estate for allowing us back this year and our sponsors Carriagehouse Insurance, Roger Derryman, Modris Kesans, Elixabeth Cartwright-Hignett, SJ Designs (for the lovely blinker covers), and not forgetting Prestige Saddles, Fairfax Saddles, Honeychop, Martin Wilknson Saddlers who all contributed lovely items for the competitors 'goody bags' ensuring that no one went home empty handed.