Since 2014, Stamford-based Robert Loomes & Co has offered the hugely generous prize of one of its sought after watches to the Advanced Intermediate or Open Intermediate competitor who completes the Cross Country course closest to the optimum time.
Fairfax & Favor Rockingham International’s Official Time Keeper, Robert Loomes & Co., is a small, traditional firm of watchmakers hand-producing around a hundred watches a year, each one entirely manufactured in this country.
“The event resonates with what we do,” explains Robert Loomes. “It’s all about commitment, excellence and timing. Fairfax & Favor Rockingham International is a superb place to promote a great British product.”
2019 saw Austin O’Connor win his second Loomes Championship. Austin was the last rider to go, with Piggy French finishing 1 second under the optimum time it looked like she would win, however Austin had other ideas! Austin was the first recipient of a Robert Loomes watch back in 2014 and becomes the first rider to win the Championship for a second time. We might not have seen the first female winner, but a ladies’ watch was given out as Austin chose to have the prize for his wife, Amy O’Connor.
“I’ve obviously gone for the female version, so I’ve got a particularly happy wife today,” said Austin. “It’s a great achievement to come back and do it for a second time in five years. I’m very, very lucky to have one, so now we’ve got one each.”
A win for the home side. British number one, Oliver Townend brought Coldplay III over the finish line one second inside the optimum en route to winning the Open Intermediate. Again, it was a closely fought Championship; Tim Price, winner of the Advanced Intermediate on Cekatinka, was two seconds inside the time. “To win something of this value at Intermediate level is pretty much unheard of,” said Oliver after receiving his watch.
Jonty Evans became the second Irishman to add his name to the Loomes Championship roll of honour, after winning the advanced intermediate with Cooley Rorkes Drift (Art). The pair came home one second inside the time and finished on their dressage score. Once again it was an extremely tight contest,as third placed Kristina Hall-Jackson also stopped the clock one second inside the optimum time on Slaney Cruise, but a stronger dressage score gave Jonty the prize.
Jonty admitted that the Loomes watch had been on his wanted list for quite a while.“I was very aware of the prize,” he laughed. “Art floated round and after jumping the last fence I had to put the brakes on a bit so as not to be too fast.”
The southern hemisphere continued to shine. Australian Bill Levett came home bang on the optimum in the Advanced Intermediate riding Improvise. It was a close contest – Britain’s Nicholas Lucey was also bang on time – so for the first time, pre-set rules came into play and a Dressage advantage gave Bill the prize.
Sir Mark Todd
Twelve months later, the winner of the Advanced Intermediate was Kiwi eventing legend Sir Mark Todd. His ride, NZB Campino, was two seconds inside the time, winning Mark the watch. NZB Campino finished 9th at Burghley 2016 and 4th at Badminton 2017.
The first recipient of a Robert Loomes watch at Rockingham was Ireland’s Austin O’Connor. He finished one second inside the time riding GFG Rambo Man, while placing second in the Open Intermediate.