Local stars battle for top honours at the Eridge Horse Trials
Leading international riders and up-and-coming local stars battled for top honours at the Eridge Horse Trials last weekend.
Riders in the two intermediate sections faced a tough 23-fence cross-country course, which looped around Eridge's undulating parkland and included ditches, a daunting water fence and numerous technical challenges that required bravery and accuracy from horse and rider.
Tonbridge-based Georgie Strang continued her brilliant run of form with a joint win aboard Cooley Business Time.
Strang dead-heated for first place with Bristol University student Angus Lambert in the first Intermediate section. Both riders scored 35.9 in the dressage, jumped a double clear and added 12.8 time penalties across the country.
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This was a second intermediate victory for Strang and Jenny Newton's seven-year-old Cooley Business Time; the pair also won at South of England in April.
"Jenny's husband bought the horse for her as a surprise birthday present," explained Georgie, who has ridden the gelding for two years. "On the big day we arranged for me to ride him along the beach at Camber Sands towards Jenny – she couldn't quite believe it!"
The pair have qualified for the British Novice Championships, at Gatcombe Park, next month, where they will compete against the very best young horses in the country.
The second Intermediate section belonged to two riders from Four Elms, near Edenbridge – Rose Carnegie, who won aboard Landine, and Harriet Brise, runner-up on Coakham Clover.
This was a first win for Carnegie, who led the dressage on a score of 27.3 and recorded the fastest time across the country in this section to win by a clear five penalties.
"I was shocked when I heard my dressage score – it's my weakest phase and I normally have to play catch-up", said Rose, 22, who is studying for a degree in osteopathy.
Second-placed Harriet, trained by former European Champion Lucy Thompson, jumped a double clear with her home-produced eight-year-old.
"Lucy turned up just before the showjumping – I didn't know she was coming to watch, but it was the incentive I needed to get myself in gear", said Brise, for whom this was a best ever Intermediate placing.
The main Open Intermediate section, for the country's best horses, was won by New Zealand international Andrew Nicholson (Marlborough), who was riding Calico Joe, one of his possible rides for the London 2012 Olympics.
Rolex Grand Slam winner Pippa Funnell, from Forest Green, finished second to Andrew with Billy Beware.
Other local riders in the prizes over the two days included Gemma Tattersall (Horsham), Sam Penn (Peacehaven), Amelia Green (Cranbrook) and sisters Emily and Sophie Llewellyn (Heathfield).