International eventing action returned at the FEI Barefoot Retreats Burnham Market Horse Trials last weekend (16 April 2021).
It was a much-anticipated day for equestrianism and the sport certainly didn’t disappoint. Piggy March reminded everyone of the depth and quality in her yard, by taking a one, two, three in section C of the CCI4*S with Brookfield Innocent (25.9), Dargun (26.9) and Fonbherna Lancer (29.1) respectively, after day 1 of dressage.
“It’s just great to be getting out and doing something,” said Piggy. “They’re all very nice horses. I’m very lucky and looking forward to the competition ahead.”
Reigning Burghley Champions, Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street, look the early lead in Section B of the CCI4* on a score of 25.4.
Day two saw Laura Collett, take the lead both sections of the CCI4*S at the close of dressage. In Section B Laura held not only the lead but the top two places – with Mr Bass producing a stunning test for a score of 24 and his stablemate, Dacapo, lying just behind with a score of 25.1. It was Laura's 2020 Pau CCI5* winner, London 52, who took the lead in Section C on a score of 23.8.
Laura was especially pleased with Mr Bass’s performance, who she feels is really coming of age now. “I’m delighted,” she said. “He doesn’t find dressage easy and he tried so hard, so I’m really proud of him. I’m so lucky to ride horses like this.”
Those lucky enough to be at Burnham Market on Sunday (18 April) were treated to an amazing day of world-class sport, all set in the glorious sunshine of North West Norfolk.
For the first time in over a decade, FEI eventing world number one, Oliver Townend’s name was not on the winners list for the four-star competition. Instead it was time for a bit of girl power, with brilliant victories for Kitty King and Piggy March.
Kitty King took the honours in CCI4*S Section B with her lovely young horse, Cristal Fontaine. They finished on a score of 28.1. “He’s a very special horse and I’m very lucky to have him for his owners, Camilla and Alex Wakeley,” said Kitty.
“He was absolutely fantastic today. He was green on the cross country course, it’s the toughest track he’s seen, but he was so genuine. It wasn’t always the tidiest but he got it done and every time I said, ‘come on let’s do this’, he answered every question.”
The top three in this section all put in gallant jumping performances to complete on their dressage scores. Fans were delighted to see Piggy March’s 2019 Badminton winner, Vanir Kamira, flying round the course – the pair finished in second on a score of 28.7, just ahead of Gemma Tattersall and one of her homebred Chilli progenies, Chilli Knight, in third (30.6).
In CCI4*S Section C, the top two placings were reversed, with a win for Piggy and Dargun (26.9) and second place for Kitty and Vendredi Biats (27.5). Izzy Taylor completed the first three in this section, finishing third with Monkeying Round (29.9) after an unlucky pole in the show jumping.
“I was delighted with him in all three phases,” said Piggy of Dargun. “He tried as hard as he could and it’s exciting moving forward. It’s just great to be getting going; getting competitive and starting to ride round some good tracks.”
Laura Collett jumped clear in the showjumping with all three of her rides, however she took the decision to withdraw prior to the cross-country due to the firmness of the ground.
As the sun set on three days of outstanding eventing competition, the real win for equestrianism was undoubtedly the opportunity to see so many of the world’s best horses back galloping around the country. There was wonderful feeling of fun and satisfaction throughout the weekend, with the owners finally able to see horses run at this level.