Showjumpers from around the world had a royal afternoon tea this week, meeting “The Queen” in the grounds of Hickstead Place.
It was not Queen Elizabeth II who honoured the riders with her presence, but the other Liz – showjumper Liz Edgar – who won Hickstead’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup five titles. She may not be the Queen of England but she’s certainly the Queen of Hickstead – and she has the corgis to prove it.
Edgar hails from showjumping’s Royal family – she is the wife of top rider Ted Edgar, and the sister of David Broome, one of the most successful riders in the history of the sport. Both Ted and David were winners of the Longines King George V Gold Cup, which has formed the finale to Hickstead’s international season every year since 1992.
The teams taking part in today’s FEI Nations Cup at the Longines Royal International Horse Show (Patron: The Queen) had a cuppa with Liz for a photoshoot ahead of the event where teams will vie for the Edward, Prince of Wales Trophy. The Hickstead leg is the penultimate qualifier in the series ahead of the Dublin Horse Show in August, before the final in Barcelona in September.
Ireland is first to go in the two-round team competition, followed by Switzerland, Spain, Germany, France, Great Britain, Brazil and the Netherlands.
Paul Tapner’s change of career hasn’t changed his winning ways, with the Australian winning Hickstead’s MS Amlin Eventers’ Challenge on Thursday.
Based in Wiltshire, Tapner is no longer a professional eventing rider. He describes himself as “an amateur elite event rider”, having taken on the full-time role of digital and technology manager for the Event Rider Masters series. “That’s my day job now and I do my riding around that,” he said after his win on Bonza King of Rouges.
The pair produced a perfectly timed round to win in 127.75sec, ahead of Britain’s Abi Walters and Perfick Miss Amber (128.37sec). In third was Irish Olympic rider Joseph Murphy and his London 2012 horse Electric Cruise, finishing just behind Walters with a time of 128.64sec.
Tapner didn’t have the best of preparations for the class. He was on track to win an Advanced class at Aston-Le-Walls horse trials last week when he had a tack malfunction. “Bonza looked like he was going to win until his bit broke in two and I was careering flat out to a fence. Thankfully he pulled up to a halt without any further incident.”
Earlier in the day, the USA’s Lauren Hough took the honours in the Bunn Leisure Trophy, riding the 12-year-old mare Adare.
Hough is based in the UK for eight months of the year at her partner Captain Mark Phillips’ yard in Gatcombe.
The first international class of the week was the Bunn Leisure Vase, won by Dutch-based Brazilian rider Yuri Mansur on the 10-year-old Inferno. Second was France’s Benoit Cernin.
In the showing classes, the reigning British Horse Society Supreme Champion Jayne Ross secured her third consecutive Les and Nadia Edgar Supreme Hunter Championship with the mare Time 2 Reflect.
Southampton-based Lauren Edwards, 22, had her first win at Hickstead for more than a decade when she claimed Wednesday’s final class, the Winter Grades B & C Championship.
She saw off opposition from several of Britain’s leading national riders in a 16-strong jump-off, riding her eight-year-old grey mare Ella Sandra G to victory in 38.04.
Edwards has not had a win at Hickstead since the days of competing on 128cm ponies.
“I’ve jumped here a few times and had placings, but my last win was about 12 years ago when I was jumping in pony classes so it’s really good to be back with a famous blue sash,” she said.
In second place was Rachel Connor on Fantastic, ahead of third-placed Jay Halim on Jaque Mate.
Other British Showjumping Winter Finals included the SEIB Winter Novice Final, which went to Rebecca Marsh and Predator Ridge.
The Winter 128cms Championship was won by Cheshire-based Olivia Banks and Remington Steal.
Blackburn’s Madison Jamieson and Flavia won the Oakley Coachbuilders Winter Grade JC Championship, while Brentwood-based Claudia Moore and the 25-year-old My Bugsy Malone won the Winter 138cms Championship.
In the showing classes, Josephine Ready, 16, won the Leeman Family Supreme Show Hunter Pony Championship riding Wolferlow Esperanto. The pair previously competed at Medium-level dressage.
The pure-bred ridden Arabian championship went to Ben Payne on Ben Hester’s Sameon Marouhk.