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After two decades of trying, Meade takes Bramham top honours

Wiltshire-based rider Harry Meade has been coming to compete at Bramham for some 23 years and has had a number of top placings, but today he realised an ambition in standing atop the podium for the first time, emulating his father Richard Meade, who won in 1975. Riding Stephen and Dinah Posford and Jules Carter’s Annaghmore Valoner, he jumped the perfect clear round to finish on his dressage score and take the show piece Defender CCI4*-L at the Defender Bramham International Horse Trials.

After a fantastic Saturday marking Ian Stark’s final cross-country course as designer at Bramham due to his retirement, it was nail-bitingly close heading into today’s final phase, with less than one pole down separating the top five.

Ros Canter and MHS Seventeen have been super consistent all week for owners Lady Milnes Coates and Deirdre Johnston, and a clear today put them in prime position to finish no worse than fourth. Next up was the rising talent of Max Warburton with The Paske Syndicate’s Deerpairc Revelry, who impressed across the country yesterday to rise up the leaderboard with a clear. They too left the poles in position for an immaculate clear.

It was then Harry’s turn with the beautiful mare Annaghmore Valoner. Harry is a master under pressure, which he used to his advantage to conjure a stunning clear, heaping the pressure on overnight leaders, Tom Jackson and S.H.E. Eventing AB’s Ask for Manchier.

Tom admitted that jumping on the final day isn’t the horse’s forte, but his worst fear was realised when they had the first fence down. Keeping his cool, Tom nursed the ‘Manny’ round without further fault, showing his ability to be a great, calm horseman. That dropped them to fifth and handed the 2024 Defender title to Harry.

Harry said afterward; “This is such a special event and I’ve grown up wanting to one day win – I think I first rode here about 23 years ago! I knew the time was tight, but just focused on my game plan. I was so pleased when I came out that we’d nailed it – the warm-up and what went on in the ring. I was so pleased that had gone right, I almost forgot about the competition. I’d been so focused on that performance and it was actually Oliver Townend who told me I’d won because Tom had the first fence down. My instant reaction was ‘oh no, poor Tom’, not the score – particularly when it’s friends, you don’t want to wish anyone ill, just focus on myself.

“I totally love her and have a real soft spot for her – she’s just a lovely, lovely person, there’s not an ounce of malice in her. She’s really talented, but she’s a worrier and she’s one you try and hold her hand to give her latent talent the chance to come to fruition, which just feels as rewarding as any win. You don’t get any better preparation to go five-star than Blenheim and Bramham – for me, she’s got all the ingredients, the bravery, the stamina, the speed, the scope in all three phases.

“Without Bramham, we’d be completely lost – it’s loved by everyone, but we simply couldn’t produce horses for five-star without it. I like every horse to come here, but also it’s such a fun, beautiful place. It’s horse-friendly, rider-friendly – it’s a really happy, relaxed atmosphere, but with a real buzz,” he declared.

On his career best result, Max said; “I’m delighted. I wasn’t quite expecting that result, but I’m absolutely thrilled! The dressage has always been a bit of a weak phase and we’ve spent a lot of time and effort, so I was thrilled with that. I put a lot of pressure on myself at Badminton and had a completion, but I came away thinking ‘just settle down’, have more of a plan and don’t set out all gung ho – and that definitely worked. I was a bit more cool and it worked. It’s a dream – I work day in and day out and this is what you ride them for. Bramham’s a fantastic show!”

Third-placed Ros had this to say about her ride: “He is an amazing jumper – he’s probably one of the best I’ve had. Just before I went in, everyone stopped and watched him. He does fill you with confidence and he’s getting better and better. He used to be a little bit careful, a bit stiff, but now he’s getting really fluent as well – he’s just good fun to ride in the jumping.

“I was absolutely over the moon with him yesterday. He is such a careful horse, as you’ve seen today, and I felt it was a big ask to go round Bramham, but I wanted to come here and see what he was made of. We had a few jumps where he went a bit green, but what I was so thrilled about was how he carried on afterwards and gained in confidence all the way around,” she said.

Ros also had a great ride in the CCI4*-S on her Olympic hopeful horse, Lordships Graffalo, also known as Walter, and she added; “I ran at Bicton a few weeks ago and felt there was a few things I wanted to tune up a little bit and they all came off as I wanted them to here. Walter’s had a thoroughly nice time and a lovely day out!”

So, the 2024 50th birthday edition of the Defender Bramham International Horse Trials comes to an end. Thank you to everyone who supported our special anniversary event – it’s been a year of reminiscing and making new memories. See you 5–8 June next year!

 

The post After two decades of trying, Meade takes Bramham top honours first appeared on Bramham.

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