AUSTRALIAN Paul Tapner started the eventing season in style at the Land Rover Gatcombe One-Day Event, writes Rebecca Rhodes.

Paul rode six horses over the two days, winning the Advanced Intermediate class with Indian Mill and finishing fourth with Kilronan who now heads to Badminton.

He also won the Intermediate section G with Up In The Air and was placed in the Open Intermediate with Yogi Bear VIII.

Badminton 2010 winner Paul and his wife Georgina are based at Wickstead Farm Equestrian Centre in Highworth.

Regular Gatcombe competitor Harry Meade from West Littleton was delighted to be back out competing following a serious fall in August when he broke and dislocated both his elbows. Harry, who only began riding again in January, finished second in the very competitive Advanced Intermediate class with Wild Lone and was among the ribbons with three of his four other rides.

Earlier this year, Harry was named as part of the British squad for the International Nations Cup Series in 2014.

Young Cheltenham rider Ella Hitchman was elated to take third behind Tapner and World No.1 Andrew Nicholson in Intermediate section G, riding her own 11-year-old Rocky Rockstar. This was Ella and Rocky’s first competition at Intermediate level.

Popular local rider, Daisy Berkeley was third in Novice section C with Kiltubrid Rhapsody and was placed with three of her other four rides. Kemble-based Scottish rider, Nicky Roncoroni took fifth place in Novice section B with Willunga and 10th in the Open Intermediate section J with Watts Burn.

Nicky was part of the successful 2013 British Nations Cup Team, along with Kitty King from Lower Stanton St. Quintin, and both remain on the squad for 2014.

William Fox-Pitt, Ollie Townend and Andrew Nicholson each rode eight horses over the two days. William won Intermediate section H with Henton For Fun, Ollie won two sections with Skyhills Cavalier and Black Tie II and Wiltshire-based New Zealander Nicholson finished in the ribbons with four of his eight rides.

Many of the world’s top horse-and-rider combinations who competed at Gatcombe are aiming for selection to the World Equestrian Games which take place during August in France.

Despite its best efforts, the weather failed to dampen the spirits of the competitors or the many spectators who enjoyed this annual event on HRH The Princess Royal's estate which has been sponsored by Land Rover since first running in 1993.