Weather holds for Houghton trials
Thousands of equestrian fans have been in West Norfolk this weekend to see some of the world's top riders in action.
Riders competing in the Houghton Hall Horse Trials tackled a course that ran alongside works of art by Damien Hirst which are being exhibited throughout the summer.
And around 12,000 spectators flocked to the estate for the four-day event, which finished yesterday.
But after West Norfolk's other major eventing showcase, the Burnham Market horse trials, was abandoned due to bad weather at Easter, organisers, riders and spectators will have been relieved the area avoided the storms that hit other parts of the country.
The main feature of the weekend was the British leg of the FEI Nations Cup, where Germany continued their dominance to win for a fourth successive year.
Six countries were represented and at one point it looked as if the Brits might spoil the German party by taking a narrow lead after the dressage and show jumping phases.
But it was Sunday's cross-country day that proved their downfall and the foursome finished at the bottom of the leaderboard after only one of the team of four went clear. Two picked up penalties and one was unseated.
The Germans sailed into the lead and the USA team were flawless on the cross country course and moved into second place.
Ireland held on to third place with New Zealand fourth, Sweden fifth and Great Britain sixth.
German team member and chef d’equipe, Peter Thomsen, was delighted. He said: “Our younger team members were really good here. It works well with the balance of two younger and two more experienced riders. We work as a team in all phases to give the younger ones confidence.”
The 'three star'class looked a certainty for West Norfolk favourite, Pippa Funnell, who was leading after the dressage and cross country. But she incurred time penalties in the show jumping and dropped to eighth place, leaving the way open for Laura Collett to win and also to take sixth and seventh places on her other two entries.
Piggy French, who also started her career in Norfolk, was second in the 'two star' class just 0.2 seconds behind Thomas Carlile, from France, and also made the podium in the 'one star'class finishing third to Germany's Dirk Schrade.
Sponsored by Saracens Horse Feeds and organised by Alec Lochore and his Musketeer Event Management team, the programme also featured classes for young event horses, a team dressage competition, show jumping classes and a ride and drive class which added some extra excitement and entertainment to the mix.
More by this authorAllister Webb