Weather forces Burnham Market into an unwanted first

Despite lots of effort, organisers had to cancel the final day of the Burnham Market International H

Despite lots of effort, organisers had to cancel the final day of the Burnham Market International Horse Trials. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The weather gods had the last laugh at Burnham Market International on Saturday as heavy overnight rain resulted in a first for the event – abandonment ahead of the final day of competition.

Despite working through the night, moving the fences that could be moved to fresh ground and reinforcing take-off and landing areas, the final course inspection early on Saturday morning left only one option.

'Safety is paramount, and we had no option but to abandon,' said event director Alec Lochore.

'No one wants to make this call.

'So much work goes in to running an event on the scale of Burnham Market International, plus it is disappointing for competitors and their teams, horse owners, trade stand holders, would-be spectators – everyone who was looking forward to a day of world class competition in North Norfolk. This is the first time we have ever had to abandon competition here – and hopefully it will be the last.'

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Competitors aiming for Badminton Horse Trials in May were the biggest casualties from a sporting point of view. Events have been cancelled up and down the country throughout March due to rain and snow, and with Burnham Market International a key prep run for these top-level combinations, riders will be facing serious logistical challenges as they prepare for 'the big one'.

Almost all entrants in the national, as opposed to international, classes did get to complete. Piggy French won the Advanced section by a country mile, riding her European Championship partner Jayne McGivern's Quarrycrest Echo.

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'Quarrycrest Echo has definitely matured from last year, which was a big year for him – he had to man up quickly, but he's come out the better for it,' said French.

'He had a bit of a look at the first water [complex] but after that he was very straight [on his lines], and he's so balanced and easy to ride.'

French had a successful first two days at Burnham Market. She posted a second win at Intermediate level riding Carnival March, her other three rides all finishing in the top six.

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