Despite variable weather conditions, sometimes sunny and warm, sometimes windy and a little damp, spectators flocked to Sussex Farm to watch the crème de la crème of event riders from around the world. Feedback both at the event and, subsequently, on Social Media has been glowing.
Over the years, the FEI Burnham Market International has grown to be a major sporting event, with competition at the highest level. This year was no different. Fourteen gold medal winners were fighting for the spoils, including William Fox-Pitt, Sir Mark Todd and Pippa Funnell. There were eight previous FEI Badminton winners and riders from 16 nations – in total around six hundred horses entertained the spectators.
However, it was last year's double CIC3* winner who dominated proceedings. Oliver Townend, who also has a FEI Badminton and FEI Burghley title on his record, posted a 1-2 in both the CIC3* and CIC2* classes – as well as in an intermediate section.
Oliver won the CIC3* on new ride Patsy Mason's Mr Hiho, and finished just 0.2 of a penalty behind on last year's winner, Paul Ridgeon's Armada. Mr Hiho had a narrow dressage advantage, both horses show jumped clear, but Armada was faster across the country. Had Oliver not had to take a pull coming into the rail-ditch-rail combination near the end of the course, the Badminton-bound Armada would almost certainly have avoided at least half of his 0.8 of a time fault and successfully defended his title.
In the CIC2* Angela Hislop's Cooley SRS beat Andrew Cawthray's Colonel Joe. Both horses finished on their dressage scores, the only two to beat the clock home across country, with 1.1 penalties separating the stable mates.
Finishing third in the 2* was Piggy French riding OBOS Cooley, while Tom Jackson completed the podium placings in the 3* - also winning the best U25 rider prize, riding Waltham Fiddlers Find.
The biggest national class of the event, the Advanced, provided the best photo caption of the weekend: Bacon, Eggs & The Cook. With Easter eggs part of the prizes, which were awarded by title sponsors Stephen and Rebecca Bacon, and Tina Cook the winner, it was a perfect photo opportunity. She rode De Novo News into the top spot, ahead of Andrew Hoy on Lanfranco and Nana Dalton riding Abbeylara Prince.
Local riders were also successful. FEI Burghley winner and member of the New Zealand event team Caroline Powell who is now based in Horringer, Ipswich rider Isabella Stagg, Pip Taylor from Woodbridge, and Pony silver medallist Bubby Upton from Herringswell all won national classes.
Stephen and Rebecca Bacon were enthusiastic in their support. With a range of businesses in Norfolk, their latest project Bacon.co.uk, which highlights the best of the best in the area, was launched to coincide with the event. “As a popular visitor attraction itself which my family has attended many times, Burnham Market International provides an obvious launch base for us to promote the new website,” said Stephen Bacon. “It has been a privilege to be involved and we have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”
Event Director Alec Lochore admitted that the build up to the event had been challenging: “The team had to deal with high winds and some heavy rain in the preceding few days. They did a fantastic job and we ended up with perfect going and received great feedback from the riders about the new fences on the cross country courses.
“This year we also welcomed a new title sponsor, Bacon.co.uk. We are hugely grateful to them for their support, and to our team of hard working volunteers.”