Perfect weekend at sunny Witchingham

The sun beat down for all three days of Great Witchingham International Horse Trials, shining on a top class field of riders from across the country.

They tackled David Sayer's beautiful cross country course and Roger Howe's testing show jumping track and Sayer said: 'The going was absolutely perfect. In fact riders probably won't find better going anywhere else all season.'

The Intermediate classes kicked off the first day and it was the show jumping that proved influential, with the undulating ground and tough up-to-height course causing many to drop poles. The cross country flowed well, causing few mishaps but providing excellent entertainment.

Friday's big winner was Joy Dawes from Bedfordshire, who won the Advanced Intermediate with style. She rode her own 16.3hh bay gelding Finisterre, going late in the class and just pipping Piggy French and Livingstone II to the win by only a few time penalties.

On Saturday the show jumping continued to prove influential, with only five clears rounds in the CIC*. Ibby Macpherson jumped an excellent round on Irish bred Ballingowan Diamond and then tackled the cross country with gusto, finishing just outside the optimum time but clear all the way. She took the honours finishing on 41.7, ahead of Sara Horrell from Cambridge riding Master Musick who finished on 49.4.


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The EQ Life sponsored BE90 classes provided some excellent riding on Sunday. Gillian Mason from King's Lynn riding her own Greenvale Legacy was successful in BE90 O, meanwhile in BE90 section P, it was Suffolk's Chloe Winchester who took the honours, riding Jessica West's mare Sportsfield Our Clare.

Winchester rode a textbook double clear picking up barely a time penalty on the course to beat Ipswich's Alice Hallows into second place. In the BE100 under-18 section, it was Suffolk's Lucinda Woolley and her own 15hh bay gelding Just Smartie II who picked up first place.

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In the BE100 open section U Grundisburgh's James Pratt riding Pacific Blue III, finished just ahead of Nicole Gwynne and her own grey gelding Badger Best, with Johnny Hustler and Ich Heisse Peanut third.

All riders praised the event and there were no serious falls. The weather clearly played a big role and Sayer added: 'We made the same preparations as usual, but whereas last year the event ran following a winter of severe frosts and the grass was all burnt out, this year the grass is growing and the poplar trees are in leaf. Really when we first started Great Witchingham it was known for its good going and good weather, enjoying 15 years in a row of sunshine. Then all that changed and for seven years the event had poor weather, and four years ago the event was cancelled due to the snow!'

Entry fees were all collected in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

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