Sarah Carless reports…..
Despite the unforgiving weather in the run up to the event, Poplar Park was able to run a full schedule of classes, with more than 400 competitors heading to the first of the Suffolk venue’s two British Eventing fixtures.
Susie Eddis and Cashelbay JJ were the victors in BE90 Section B with a winning score of 30.8. Susie took over the ride on the 14.2 Connemara from her sister Lucy at the end of last year.
Susie told Eventing Worldwide: “Poplar Park was our first BE event together and since I hadn’t ridden him for two weeks due to being at boarding school, it was a wonderful surprise to win. He’s mainly done working hunter pony with my sister including winning at Horse of The Year Show with her five times but he’d done a little bit of eventing with her too. I’d really love to get to qualify for the Badminton Grassroots final at the end of the year with him and my other pony, Noble Sir Prize.”
It was a first affiliated win for Beth Mann who topped the table in BE90 Section C with Albecyn Vice Versa on a score of 23.3. Beth previously evented up to Novice level but in 2002 had a nasty fall whilst competing at pre-novice and she stopped riding. She started riding again six years later and in 2014 purchased Buzz with whom she has gone from strength to strength.
Beth told Eventing Worldwide: “It is my first ever win at BE and it’s pretty special, and something I never dreamed could happen. After my fall my confidence went from hero to zero and I ended up giving up horses all together. However, I always had the nagging feeling that I needed to get back into it and made the plunge to buy a horse again in 2008. I did lower level dressage and show jumping but felt I wanted to give eventing a go again. I found myself the horse I thought might help me get back into eventing and that was Buzz. We have taken it slowly together and built our confidence together. He hasn’t been easy or push button but he has a heart of gold and wants to get it right for me. We started at 80 and tried a 90 at Great Witchingham in 2015 but I had a panic attack in the show jumping and a whole load of demons came back. But we dropped back to 80 and started again. In 2016 I fell pregnant with my son and although I evented up until 14 weeks I felt I should hand the reins over for a while, so I kept riding at home but my friend Hannah Galley competed him a few times for me. His confidence grew with her and after a mini break over winter whilst I had my son, we started again February last year. And he has just gone from strength to strength but I still never ever dreamt we could win an event. I heard my Dressage score as I was approaching fence three and my mouth literally dropped but I managed to push it to the back of my mind as I was worried about fitness. I was expecting time penalties so didn’t let it affect how I rode. He jumped like a stag and pulled me around the cross country, even making me think I might need a stronger bit. He is an absolute horse of a life time and he owes me nothing. I have made the decision to put my brave pants on and do 100 next. If I can complete at 100 I will feel I really have put my eventing demons to bed, with the help of Buzz and a very supportive family, friends and trainer.”
Alyson Parker and JJ Malone will be heading to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton in May for the fifth time. The pair have completed the championships four times previously in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017, and qualified for the 2015 championships but withdrew. They started their preparation for the event with a win in BE100 Section H, having won at the event last year too.
Alyson said: We won at Poplar Park last year so I am very happy to have won our section again this year. Joe is 15 now so I am mindful of keeping him supple and tuned up without overdoing things so I was delighted how well he felt on Sunday. This result has given us a good boost to start the season and we are really looking forward to the Mitsubishi Motors cup in May. Several of my friends who have also qualified were there Sunday and they all did very well so its game on.”
Tom Crisp had a successful event walking away with a double of victories. He won Novice Section O with Don Zephyr and Open Novice Section P with Regatta Girl. Pippa Funnell was another of Britain’s top riders to come away with a win, riding Billy Beware to the top of the standings in Advanced Intermediate Section M.
Other section results; BE90 Section A Rachael Key, ICH Heisse Peanut; BE90 Open Section D Michelle Chandler; BE80(T) Section E Lisa Clarke Spence, Tempe Rexton; BE80(T) Section F Robbie Bell, Liscannor Prince; BE80(T) Section G Casey Parker, Jaydee II; BE100 Section I Mary Edmundson, Tashkaldou; BE100 Under 18 Section J Emily Finston, Cuffesgrange Little Ric; BE100 Open Section K Sarah Bullimore, Starkbucks I; Open Intermediate L Anthony Clark, Crambamboli; Intermediate Section L1 Samantha Cutts, Piccola Diavola; Open Novice Under 18 Section N Leilla Paske, Fernhill First Friend.
Photographs courtesy of Sue Westmoor