The day may have started grey and rainy but it quickly blew off to the North Sea to leave a perfect setting for three sections of world class action at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials.

The British Equestrian Trade Association CIC3*got us underway this morning with their show jumping phase.  Overnight leader Pippa Funnell held her advantage with Carol Toliver and her own Billy the Biz but that was no surprise as the Cevin  Z sired grey was bred to show jump.  Her two closest rivals, Nicola Wilson (Annie Clover) and Caroline Powell (Onwards and Upwards) also were faultess in the Equi-Trek arena over Di Boddy’s up-to-height course.

It was down to Ian Stark’s cross country test to determine the final result.  First of the leaders to go was local superstar Nicola with the mare owned by her parents, Mary and Barry Tweddle and as she’s had the mare since a four year old, she’s very much part of the Tweddle-Wilson family.  The duo are quite the partnership now and they made light of Ian’s course having four star and championship experience to finish clear inside the time and throw the gauntlet down.  Caroline Powell was next on course with Cameron Crawford’s Onwards and Upwards who again used his experience and that of his rider to fly round faultlessly to maintain their position.   So it was down to Pippa and the relatively inexperienced grey Billy the Biz.   Pippa had already declared that she would ride him to how he felt and although full of assurance and going well for the Rolex Grand Slam rider, Pippa never pushed him out of a comfortable rhythm for four costly time penalties but a very happy, confidence giving round.  So it was enough to drop Pippa out of the lead to second and hand the first prize and £2000 to Nicola.  It was certainly a popular win for the home crowd!  “I wanted to be the most popular woman in Yorkshire, so I thought I’d let Nicola win!” jibed Pippa.

“To win here at Bramham is really a dream come true,” beamed Nicola.  “It’s something I’ve struggled to do but it’s nice to finally do it for us all!  It’s been a fantastic week and to have both these horses finish on their dressage scores is really special.  I have a lovely string of horses and the future is really exciting – I couldn’t be happier!”

The first cross country action of the day was in the Equi-Trek CCI3*  where the action was thick and fast.  The top three remained unchanged with the exception of Pippa Funnell dropping down to sixth with Jenny Nolan, Ruth McMullen and her own Sandman 7.  She gave the inexperienced gelding a happy run for 4.8 time penalties.  Overnight leader Flora Harris and Caroline Harris and Rebecca Salt’s Bayano were foot perfect to finish five seconds inside the time, as were William Fox-Pitt and Fernhill Pimms, owned by Carol Gee and Catherine Witt, just a single second slower. Kitty King was five seconds over the time with Jane Inns’ Persimmon to add 2.0 penalties which kept them in third.

Flora was pleased with her ride; “He was excellent.  He started fresh but he tired around two thirds of the way round.  Everything pretty much went to plan and I kept positive all the way round.”

It’s close and Flora doesn’t have a fence in hand to play with over William so it’ll be a nail biting finish to the end.

The Bishop Burton College u25 CCI3* leader Holly Woodhead also kept her spot with DHI Lupison after a great round which resulted in Holly finishing just one second under the time. Dani Evans had a fabulous day with two good rounds but the better was on her younger ride, Smart time where just 0.8 time penalties added to her dressage of 39.4 to move her from fourth after dressage to second.  Emily King and Brookleigh also capitalised on a faultless cross country ride to improve two places to third.  Dani’s second ride, Raphael II, was slightly slower to notch up 4 time penalties to drop a spot to fourth.

On her CCI3* debut, Holly commented; “That was pretty cool!  Really, we were like the blind leading the blind but he did everything I asked and even looked after me in places.  I lost my way with my clock part of the way round but he’s amazing, you can just ride him in a rhythm which gets you there in time.  We both just grew in confidence as we went round.”

Tomorrow gets underway with the Bishop Burton College CCI u25 trot up at 8:00 before they show jump at 9:45.  Then on to the Equi-Trek trot up before their show jumping to decide our champions.

Full results – click here

Rider interviews – click here