Brightling beats the rain

Blyth Tait jumps a fence at Brightling Park. Picture courtesy
Blyth Tait jumps a fence at Brightling Park. Picture courtesy

The 2012 Brightling Park International Horse Trials went ahead despite the worst weather in the event’s 26-year history.

Heavy rain on Thursday evening and Friday night meant that Saturday’s programme at the prestigious event was reduced, although the main events on Sunday were completed.

Event organiser Gardie Grissell said: “It went well. It was a struggle with the weather and we had to cancel some classes, but we managed to run the biggest international classes.

“We didn’t do a lot on Saturday; we just did dressage and preserved the cross-country (course) for Sunday. I think it was the worst conditions I can recall.”

A record field entered the Brightling Park International Horse Trials for the second successive year with no less than 520 entries - 53 more than last year - received.

In fact, a number of riders sought to switch from The Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire - which was cancelled - but couldn’t be fitted in because Brightling was over-subscribed.

The field included Blyth Tait, the great New Zealand rider who won four Olympic medals during the 1990s and four World Championship gold medals. Tait came second in the CIC* riding Xanthus III.

East Sussex-based professional eventer Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp won the CIC* class on HHS Cooley. Winner of the CIC** class was Australian-born equine vet Tony Warr, from Pembury.

Teams also descended on Brightling from the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Belgium, and conditions were near perfect last Thursday lunchtime before the weather took a turn for the worse.

See tomorrow’s Battle Observer for a full report and more pictures.