Great Witchingham International Horse Trials cut short

Norfolk's Piggy French in action on Bornio in the Great Witchingham International horse trials at Bl

Norfolk's Piggy French in action on Bornio in the Great Witchingham International horse trials at Blackwater Farm. Picture: Matthew Usher - Credit: Matthew Usher

East Anglian riders dominated the top places on the second and what was to prove final day of the Great Witchingham International Horse Trials on Saturday.

The day was primarily made up of BE100 sections with plenty of the winnings going to riders around the region.

Any early start was made worth it for Suffolk rider Jo Williams who took home second in the BE100 Section I on Grant Polkinghorne's, Ballyhack Murphey. The pair scored the best dressage of the section on 26.5 and just added 4.4 time penalties from the cross country to walk away with the prize.

In BE100 Section J, all the top four positions went to East Anglian riders, the best known being Olympic bronze medallist Sharon Hunt who came in fourth on Veyga. However, it was Suffolk rider Jenny George who scooped top honours on her own brown mare Whisper Sweet Nothing who finished on a score of 30.0.

It was the cross-country's optimum time that was the real decider as to who won the BE100 Open section.

With a tie of results for first and second, the all important decision was made based on each competitor's closeness to the optimum time. Eventual winner was James Pratt, riding Helena Packshaw's Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained, who finished on a brilliant dressage score of 29.5 and made it round the course with six seconds to spare.

Well known event rider to the region Sarah Wales took home a win in the Novice Section L on the experienced horse El Nino IV. El Nino, who is owned by Sarah and James Macewan, did a great test, scoring 33, and added nothing to take home first place.

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Georgina Webster did a one-two with her two rides McVitie and Ballisland Boy. Competing in the worst conditions of the day McVitie was victorious in BE90 Section O and Ballisland Boy picked up second in BE90 section N.

Despite the huge efforts that went into defying the 'great' British weather, the decision was made yesterday morning by BE steward James Midgley to abandon the remainder of the competition. David Sayer, who organises the event, said it was a 'huge disappointment.'

He went on to say: 'We have been extremely lucky this weekend; when it threatened to turn nasty on Friday night it was just a matter of time to see what the weather threw at us. Fortunately the weather held out for one more day.'

The event's success is only as good as the team behind it; volunteers, stewards, scorers and judges all braved the worst of the elements on the Saturday and their dedicated efforts meant that the event could still go on.

'I'm very proud of the team behind us here at Great Witchingham, without them there is no horse trials' said Sayer. Others described volunteers as 'heroes' braving blizzards in sub zero temperatures.