Surprise presentation at Poplar Park

BRITISH Eventing marked the 25th anniversary of the Poplar Park Horse Trials with a surprise presentation to organisers Jim and Trish Hardwick.The organisation's regional director Chris Farr travelled to Hollesley at the weekend to present the couple with a glass decanter and plaque in recognition of their contribution to the sport.

Sheena Grant

BRITISH Eventing marked the 25th anniversary of the Poplar Park Horse Trials with a surprise presentation to organisers Jim and Trish Hardwick.

The organisation's regional director Chris Farr travelled to Hollesley at the weekend to present the couple with a glass decanter and plaque in recognition of their contribution to the sport.

Mr Farr said: "Very few events keep going for this long and Poplar Park is a fantastic servant to the sport. It is great to see the event still flourishing after 25 years and British Eventing felt it was only right to commemorate the anniversary.


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"Poplar Park provides a bedrock for the early part of the eventing calendar. Two years ago, the addition of intro level opened this event up to a much wider part of the membership and ensured more people are able to enjoy Poplar Park at this time of year."

Out on the course, local riders competed against some of the biggest names in the sport.

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Leading riders Oliver Townend, Jeanette Brakewell and Piggy French were among the top attractions over the two days of dressage, show jumping and cross country.

Piggy French notched up three wins, including one in the advanced intermediate section on Boherdeel Champion, where she beat Townend's Flint Curtis and Clover Curtis into second and third place respectively.

But the star of the show for Suffolk was undoubtedly Mary Edmundson, who celebrated her 16th birthday yesterday and is continuing a family tradition by competing at Poplar Park.

The young rider, whose mother Debbie rode in the first ever Poplar trials in 1983, won the pre-novice section I on her mother's six-year-old mare Harroway Catkin and took three third places on her other rides.

She would have competed in the intermediate section of the event as well but she was too young - her sixteenth birthday came just a day too late.

"I am really pleased with my results - I was not expecting to do nearly as well as I have," said Mary, who takes her GCSEs this year and hopes to build a career in eventing.

Her mother Debbie, one of Suffolk's leading riders in her day and gave up competing just last year, said she was immensely proud of Mary's achievements.

"I thought the (cross country) course was super this weekend," she said. "It's more like it used to be when the event first started - a big galloping course."

Event spokeswoman Sharon Bleese said Poplar Park's enduring appeal was partly explained by its location.

"You are pretty much always guaranteed that the going will be good her," she said.

"We are also finding that generations of riders who started with the event 25 years ago are coming back with their children as competitors."

Hundreds of spectators flocked to the event to see riders take part in the competition's three stages of dressage, show jumping and cross country. This last phase has the biggest influence on the whole competition and provides most excitement. Horses and riders have to negotiate a course of around 20 fixed fences on a route between one and two miles long.

An army of volunteers ensured the event ran smoothly and proceeds from the two days will be split between the East Anglian Air Ambulance, Riding for the Disabled (Hollesley group) and the Suffolk Punch Trust.

Results round-up

Intro section A: 1. Maureen Mack on Penny Bee; 2. Laura Perkins on Cwmmaddoc Nimrod; 3. Tom Vacher on Fair Venture (Suffolk).

Intro section B: 1. Shelley Gristwood on Zodiac II; 2. Clare-Louise Bond on Rohan India Rose; 3. Kendall Banks-Browne on Ringling Galaxy Quest (Suffolk).

Intro section C: 1. Johnny Hustler on Ich Heisse Peanut; 2. Will Rawlin on Dressed For Success; 3. Emily Clover on Homeleigh Mere.

Intro section D: 1. Amanda Murrell on Hattie Jacques; 2. Joanne Brett on North Astor Rossco; 3. Lucy Wood on Kylemore Diamond (Suffolk).

Novice section E: 1. Oliver Townend on ODT Polar Run; 2. Michael Owen on Highland Prince II; 3. Piggy French on Alvescot Prada.

Novice Section F: 1. Piggy French on Ballyraggett; 2. Jonathan Chapman on Urbanus II; 3. Max Gordon on Croft Play Boy.

Open Novice section G: 1. Emily Gilruth on Vanilla Sky; 2. Jamie Atkinson on Cruise Warrior; 3. Mary Edmundson on Playtime (Suffolk).

Int-novice section H: 1. Amy Young on Whos Cruise; 2. Oliver Townend on ODT Land Vision; 3. Mary Edmundson on Serano.

Pre-novice section I: 1. Mary Edmundson on Harroway Catkin; 2. Georgina Miller on Clarendon Tara; 3. Henrietta Cranfield on Aran Island.

Pre-novice section J: 1. Caroline Smith on Para Ti (Suffolk); 2. Victoria Lawson on The King's Bishop (Suffolk); 3. Jamie Atkinson on Springpark Fantasia.

Pre-novice section K: 1. Elizabeth Hamilton on Sir Harry V (Suffolk); 2. Joanne Masterson on Fairy Story; 3. Mary Edmundson on Irish Affair II.

Open pre-novice section L: 1. Catriona Kerruish on Brigadier General; 2. Olivia Craddock on Mr Copperfield II; 3. Sophie Crisp on Twister V.

Intermediate section M: 1. Piggy French on ODT Raphael; 2. Sarah Cohen on Trebetherick;

Open intermediate section N: 1. Amy Young on Highville; 2. Piggy French on Cast Away II; 3. Emily Gilruth on Ashdale Cruise Master.

Adv-intermediate section P: 1. Piggy French on Boherdeel Champion; 2. Oliver Townend on Flint Curtis; 3. Oliver Townend on Clover Curtis.

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