Promising signs for Loddon ace Roberts

Virginia Wells and Cool Decision from Woodbridge in action at Poplar.

Virginia Wells and Cool Decision from Woodbridge in action at Poplar. - Credit: Archant

Poplar Park's new date proved a huge success last weekend, with an abundant start list of local riders.

Event secretary Julia Sheppard said: 'It was 'good to see the local riders and especially the young riders competing in the U18s sections.'

Eventing's most prestigious three day event, Badminton, takes place this coming weekend and as a result top riders are in their preparations, so couldn't attend the event. Sheppard added: 'It's a shame not to see so many of the top riders here due to the date change. But on a positive note we have seen an increase in entries for the lower classes, BE90s and 100s.'

As part of their 30th anniversary celebrations and the introduction of the new date, there were significant improvements to the intermediate course: 'We re-routed the intermediate course to make it more flowing,' said Sheppard. 'Areas that we have paid particular attention to are the start of the course, around fence three and in the woods near the end of the course.'

In the BE100 open section Claire Fielding on You Never Said won, but newly formed partnership Georgina Roberts and 14-year-old Rex Rilana had a brilliant day, coming fourth despite only being together for two weeks.

Roberts, from Loddon, hopes to do the Open pony club teams with an aim to move up to Novice. Rex was bought from top event rider Angus Smales. 'We were told once we found the right buttons to push we would be on to a winner,' said Georgina.

In the most advanced class of the weekend, Sophia Lee from Wacton in Norfolk scooped an impressive second in the intermediate class. Richard Skelt from Kettering took the top honours but Lee's ride Porters Hill completed the fastest round cross country to take runner up position.

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Porters Hill has been ridden by Lee for five seasons: 'I didn't plan to go to Poplar and I was surprised he got round so fast because he is a big long striding horse, so Poplar wouldn't normally suit him because it's so twisty,' she said. 'He gets so tense in the dressage, so I have been working really hard on it this season. Any distraction in the dressage and I've lost him, he would prefer to be jumping the fences!'

The cross-country course was causing some issues for many riders. One of the most influential fences being 16a and b, the double of corners in the BE100 class. Two horses fell consecutively, with many others falling or refusing.