Bells ring a winning note at Burnham
Piggy French continued her winning form this season at Burnham Market's autumn event, held on the beautiful Norfolk track under the watchful eye of Alec Lochore's Musketeer Event Management team.
Piggy rode 14-year-old mare Cariba 15, formerly ridden by Ben Hobday, into first place in the Open Intermediate, the partnership's second OI win this season following success at Somerford Park.
The top five riders all rode double clears on this track, with only dressage scores and XC time penalties to separate them out, but Piggy's dressage of 31.8 put her in second place to start, matched by fellow Norfolk rider Kelly Aldous and Hearnesbrook Derby Day.
Out on course, Piggy pushed on to finish fast with only 3.2 time penalties, putting her ahead of second placed John-Paul Sheffield and Riverside James.
Kelly meanwhile suffered an unfortunate 20 penalties in the showjumping, slipping her down to 18th place in strong company.
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However, Kelly's weekend was not all lost as she finished strongly in the Intermediate section H on worthy campaigner High Garth High Flyer picking up fifth place; she also added a third place rosette to her collection riding the mare Royal Patriarch in Novice section L.
The BE90 and 100 classes were packed with local riders pitting their horses against the tough course, and in BE90 section F Newmarket-based Minty Hanbury rode Tobermory XI to clinch the win against biology teacher Helen Bell and Dreadnaught II from Wood Norton, a partnership now back on track after a hock injury put paid to their plans for this year's Badminton Grassroots Final.
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Charlotte Bell from King's Lynn rode a great dressage test in BE100 section B to lead all the way from the front on Arabian Night, in the gelding's first season at British Eventing.
Meanwhile, in section C, it was Georgie Bell hailing from Lowestoft who took first place, riding her own Eldorado II who is stabled at Georgie's parents' yard in Great Yarmouth.
Georgie finished on a fantastic score of just 24 penalties, with a double clear inside the time meaning her leading dressage score was her finishing mark.
Event organiser Di Wass said that the weekend ran smoothly: 'There were no problems and no catastrophes – everyone had a really good time and we have had some very positive feedback.'
The course contained some newer elements that were first introduced at the spring event and good ground and favourable weather helped the event run without a hitch.
'Entries were down a bit though, probably because we were so close to Gatcombe,' Di added, 'But the event still proved a real attraction for top riders and spectators alike.'
• Nick Skelton won an individual bronze medal for Great Britain on the final day of the FEI Showjumping European Championships in Madrid at the weekend.
Skelton's efforts followed the bronze he helped GB win in the team event on Friday, along with Ben Maher, John Whitaker and Guy Williams.