World class riders help Suffolk event to celebrate 35th anniversary

Poplar Park Horse Trials will celebrate its 35th anniversary by welcoming back some of the great names in eventing. 
Riders competing at the event, which takes place on 10th and 11th March 2018, will be joined by Rolex Grand Slam winner Pippa Funnell, New Zealand Olympic rider Caroline Powell and rising star, Youth European double gold medallist Will Furlong. These top riders will be joined by hundreds of grassroots eventers who flock to the popular event. 
The event, which began in 1984 and has been run by Trish and Jim Hardwick, is now co-organised by their daughter Antonia (Bo) Hardwick. 
Bo said; “Poplar Park Horse Trials began the year I was born so I have quite literally grown up with it. We have seen so many fantastic riders compete here over the years; we’ve never disappointed our spectators. Of course Poplar Park has always been a popular and well supported event because of our amazing ground, free draining sandy soil and the beautiful setting. But the course has grown and developed. In the early days there were only two levels of eventing, Novice and Intermediate. Nowadays there are no less than eight. These new classes have been introduced at the grassroots end of the sport so now despite the name; the Novice class is made up of largely professional riders.”
Bo organises the event with her father Jim, a civil engineer who has developed and built the cross country course over the last 35 years. Joe Weller, a course builder at Burghley Horse trials has been employed by the Hardwicks. Bo said; “Joe has incredibly high standards and has really helped us raise our game and brought a much needed fresh set of eyes to the park. It’s important to our competitors and our spectators that the course develops each year.”
Bo, a competitor herself since the age of 14, said; “For our competitors the recent weather shouldn’t make much of a difference. The going here is always good. Of course the weather plays a part for our spectators – a nice sunny day brings out more people than a wet and soggy one. But over the years this has become a family day out. We always try to have a variety of trade stands and food outlets to interest spectators and latterly we have introduced dog agility which has proved to be very popular. But I’m ever hopeful for a dry weekend and after our recent weather anything is likely to feel warmer.”

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