The weather gods had the last laugh at Burnham Market International today. Heavy overnight rain resulted in a first for the event – abandonment ahead of the final day of competition. Despite working through the night, moving those fences that could be moved to fresh ground, and reinforcing take off and landing areas, the final course inspection early this morning (Saturday) left only one option. “Safety is paramount, and we had no option but to abandon,” said Event Director Alec Lochore.
Competitors aiming for Badminton Horse Trials in May were the biggest casualties from a sporting point of view. Events have cancelled up and down the country thoughout March due to rain and/or snow, and with Burnham Market International a key prep run for these top level combinations, riders will be facing serious logistical challenges as they prepare for ‘the big one’.
Almost all entrants in the national, as opposed to international, classes did get to complete. Piggy French won the Advanced section by a country mile, riding her European Championship partner Jayne McGivern’s Quarrycrest Echo.
“Quarrycrest Echo has definitely matured from last year, which was a big year for him – he had to man up quickly, but he’s come out the better for it,” said Piggy. “He had a bit of a look at the first water [complex] but after that he was very straight [on his lines], and he’s so balanced and easy to ride.”
Despite not getting to run across country with either Jennifer Saunders’s Cooley Monsoon in the Two Star, or her Badminton-bound Burghley runner up Vanir Kamira, Piggy had a successful first two days at Burnham Market. She posted a second win at Intermediate level riding Carnival March, her other three rides all finishing in the top six.
Of Carnival March, Piggy admitted: “This was his first intermediate, and I’m really excited about him. We’ve had him since he was a four-year-old and he’s a lovely horse. The track was definitely a step up from usual here, and it was the first time I have really kicked him on and asked something of him. He dealt with it really well.”
Izzy Taylor and European bronze medallist Nicola Wilson won an open intermediate class apiece whilst local rider Pip Cross claimed the final intermediate section. Pip rode her top horse Scoop de Ferbet to what she considered a surprise victory and was over the moon with the result.
Another Norfolk competitor featured strongly on day one, Indie Vaughan-Jones’s four rides all going home with top 10 rosettes, including a first place for Cool Blue in the BE100 sections. Indie, who used to work for British team gold medallist Ros Canter, is in her last year of Young Riders and will be targetting her top horse, Quob Dynamic, at selection for this year’s Young Rider European squad.
Fittingly, Ros Canter claimed a win of her own riding Lordships Graffalo, with NicolaWilson posting another win in the Open Novice, this time riding Beltane Queen.
With two thirds of the action successfully completed, there was still an air of disappointment when the decision was made to abandon the international classes. Alec Lochore summed up the feeling: “No-one wants to make this call. So much work goes in to running an event on the scale of Burnham Market International, plus it is disappointing for competitors and their teams, horse owners, trade stand holders, would-be spectators – everyone who was looking forward to a day of world class competition in North Norfolk. This is the first time we have ever had to abandon competition here – and hopefully it will be the last.”