Burnham Market Horse Trials abandoned after heavy rain

Burnham Market Horse trials''Oliver Townend riding Samuel Thomas II
Burnham Market Horse trials''Oliver Townend riding Samuel Thomas II
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The Burnham Market International Horse Trials, one of the biggest events in West Norfolk’s annual sporting calendar, has been abandoned because of unsuitable ground.

Organisers did their best to make the cross country course usable for Saturday but in the end they had to take the decision to abandon the third and final day of the competition.

Media officer Hilary Manners said: “Everyone is very disappointed but at the end of the day safety had to come first.”

Sussex Farm, Burnham Market, is known as one of the best drained courses in the country and competitors support this early event because they are confident the going will be good. But heavy overnight rain on Friday saw areas under water and for once the team had to concede defeat.

It was particularly disappointing for competitors who have already seen earlier events called off because of bad weather.

But former world champion Laura Corlett tweeted: “Gutted for the team @MusketeerEvents to have to abandon Burnham Market but definitely the right decision! The XC was a brilliant track but sadly ground deteriorated with horrific rain overnight.”

Burnham Market had received entries from 18 nationalities including Russia, Brazil and South Africa and 800 horses were lined up to compete over the three days.

They included top riders including Olympians such as Oliver Townend, Andrew Nicholson, Sir Mark Todd and Piggy French who each brought strings of horses to West Norfolk. They all had a run over the first two days but Saturday was staging the headline classes and they were planning to give their most experienced horses a run. They had completed their dressage tests on Friday and were due to ride the cross country and show jumping courses next day. Instead they were heading home.

Luckily the weather on Thursday and Friday was kind and a full quota of classes went ahead. Piggy French, who originally hails from Norfolk, had a great second day. She bagged both a straight intermediate section and an advanced with two of her horses and also pocketed third, fourth and sixth place rosettes.

Another Olympian, Nicola Wilson, took two classes over the two days and both Oliver Townend and Pippa Funnell were section winners.

Townend was also leading the dressage phase in the two-star before the organisers had to call off the event.

At the lower levels, several Norfolk riders put up winning performances. Twenty-year-old India Vaughn-Jones had four rides and tokl home a total of four top-ten rosettes. Fellow Norfolk rider Alice Casburn (16) finished third and sixth in the under-018s section.

And on the second day, Philippa Cross, from Gressenhall, won one of the intermediate sections.

The event was sponsored by Barefoot Estates and organised by Musketeer Event Management who now turn their attentions to their next big challenge – organising Houghton Hall Horse Trials at the end of May.