The inaugural British Masters competition - based on the Extreme Driving World CupTM format - gave the lively crowd at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre a night that they will never forget.
In the first round - used only to determine the running order of the second - Karen Bassett, driving a team that included three horses only previously used for funerals, started the competition off steadily. Wilf Bowman-Ripley, driving as though his life depended on it, looked World Class as his horses charged around the Andrew Simmons-built course. However, it was Georgina Hunt that topped the leader board, ensuring that she would be the last to go in the following round.
The first to go in the second round was Karen who gave the spectators the biggest surprise of the day. Not only did she knock some 25 seconds off her first round, but she also finished the round in third place, ahead of Dick Lane, Wilf Bowman-Ripley and Pippa Bassett. Georgina Hunt continued to be the consummate professional, driving the fastest of all the drivers in the second round and Daniel Naprous also did particularly well to finish in second position. This meant that Karen, Daniel and Georgina would be in the final drive-off round to determine the winner.
Karen started the drive-off by moving up yet another gear and flew through the course. Unfortunately, a slight steering hiccup caused a minor deviation off the racing line and cost Karen a few seconds. With the pressure then at virtually unbearable levels, Daniel drove his Lipizzaner horses very accurately and smoothly, beating Karen's time. However, with the current leader still to drive, everybody's focus moved to Georgina.
In a carbon copy of her first round, Georgina drove perfectly, executing an almost impossible line from the "B" to the "C" gate of the first obstacle. Just as everyone thought that Georgina had the competition won, her nearside leader got a leg over a trace. This meant that grooms had to be put down and, after the rhythm had been lost, Georgina missed gate "E" on the first obstacle and was subsequently eliminated - leaving Daniel Naprous as the first ever British Master.
It has since been confirmed that Daniel has been invited to appear as a Wild Card in the Olympia, The London International Horse Showâ€™s inaugural Extreme Driving FEI World CupTM Leg - generously supported by Hugh and Karen Scott-Barrett (Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th December).
For more information visit www.horsedrivingtrials.co.uk