The 2023 season starts in style

There is nothing quite like eventing. The thrill of getting back out to enjoy our sport was written all over the faces of those competing at Epworth in North Lincolnshire and Poplar Park in Suffolk over the weekend (4-5 March).

The first fixtures of the year kicked off a busy calendar of BE events, which runs from now until October and offers classes for everyone – from those starting their journey in the sport right up to those hoping to represent their country at the highest level.


“It was brilliant to have a full day of entries and to see so many old and new faces all having such a fantastic time at our facilities to start the BE 2023 season,” said organiser, Cheryl Gibbons of Epworth’s event on Saturday.

Heidi Coy (pictured) picked up a 2nd and two 4th’s out of three rides 

The icing on the cake for Cheryl was in the middle of the day when she had a very special visitor into the event’s Café. “Nicola Wilson was looking great and so positive about the future and supporting eventing,” she said. “What a lady and inspiration she is. Nicola has always supported our British Eventing Horse Trials here at Epworth since 2017 with many rides, just this time in a different way!”

The event ran a full day of BE90 and BE100 classes, with many riders from across the country choosing to get their 2023 campaigns underway at the North Lincolnshire venue.

There was also three top 10 placings for Lucinda Atkinson (pictured above)

View the full results from Saturday 4 March here.

Lots of lovely feedback is already flying in for the event: “What a fantastic start to the season,” said BE scorer, Jen Caley of the competition at Epworth. “Well organised, great set up and going to die for in March!”

Similar sentiments were shared by Jane Rockingham, whose daughter’s horse Olaris Beech delivered the lowest dressage score of the day (19.3) to win BE100 Section G ridden by Lucy Robinson. Jane emailed the team to say, “May I thank you so much, for such a super, relaxed and extremely well-run event. This event is a credit to you and your team! The ground was perfect too.”

Poplar Park

Celebrating their 39th year, the team at Poplar Park put on a great weekend of sport. The event was blessed with dry weather and even some sunshine at times with lots of spectators coming out to support the event, which raises money for their local Riding for The Disabled centre as well as the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Oli Townend dominated the Intermediate sections at Poplar Park, winning both of the OI sections with Ballaghmor Class (pictured) and Swallow Springs

Some of the sports top names were amongst those appreciating being back in action at Poplar Park, including Tokyo Olympic gold medallists, Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class (who took the win in OI Section G) and Tom McEwen and Toledo De Kerser. “Always a worthwhile trip across to Poplar Park Horse Trials for guaranteed good ground and courses,” said Tom of the weekend.

Sarah Bullimore and Irish Trump took the honours in Intermediate Section E

View the full results from Saturday 4 March and Sunday 5 March here.

Looking ahead to the 40th anniversary next year, joint organiser Bo Taylor said, “Now that our Intermediate numbers are flourishing again and with the calibre of horses we saw over the weekend, we have plans to reinstate the Advanced Intermediate and to have an attractive prize pot on offer to make the trip to Suffolk’s East Coast even more tempting for those Badminton bound top class horse and rider combinations! Our spectators really do appreciate being able to see world class horses and riders in action over the weekend.”

“Very pleased to have started the season with 3x double clears at Poplar Park,” added Pippa Funnell of her weekend. “You’re always guaranteed a good cross country course on sandy soil that blows the cobwebs nicely away.”

Looking ahead

With the start of season cobwebs now blown away for many, the action continues this Thursday (9 March) with four days of competition from BE90 to OI taking place at Oasby in Lincolnshire.

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