Grandmother Elizabeth Breton, who is 78 years old, triumphed in the novice class at the SEIB/BHS Cross-Country Championships last weekend.

Elizabeth, from Gloucestershire, told HHO: “I won the class with my son’s horse, Rolo, who I’ve ridden less then 10 times. I rode in hunter trials for two years before World War II and then did some point-to-pointing after the war before giving up riding in 1963.

“I enjoyed cross-country as a child though, and I recently started riding again. I partnered a 13-year-old friend in the pairs competition at the BHS Cross-Country Championships two years ago and we came fifth. I was so thrilled and we got mentioned in Horse & Hound.

“I had a pony for a while but she went back to her owners so since then I’ve just been borrowing what I can. I used to keep the pony at Wickstead Farm Equestrian Centre, so when I heard the Championships were being held there I thought it was a good chance. It was lucky I was able to qualify Rolo when my son wasn’t using him.

“I kept telling myself I mustn’t be disappointed if I didn’t win. It was very exciting as I thought I had gone too fast but then it turned out my time was 5.19min and the optimum was 5.20min.”

Not content with one bid for victory Elizabeth also partnered two hired horses in the open class. Unfortunately she took falls from both of them, but said: “I’m sure if I’d gone more slowly I’d have been clear on at least one of them.

“I only got one bruise, but if I’ve got any sense I think that will be my last cross-country competition as if you do hurt yourself at my age it takes longer to heal.

“I’m the only person my age I know still competing in cross-country events although I do know of people hunting in their 90s. I think my family are quite proud although they also think I’m mad but I just love jumping and hunter trials.”

Chris Howle and Seamus were second in the novice class and Rebekah Bartley and Wild Rose II were third.

Open success for Sue

Sue Coffin won the open class on her seven-year-old Irish Draught/Appaloosa, Spot On. Sue is delighted with her achievement as the horse had a difficult start in life.

“He came over from Ireland two and a half years ago: he’d been mistreated in Ireland, castrated without an anaesthetic and shod with shoes too small for him. When we got him he was totally on the defensive and it’s taken a lot of work to get him to what he is now.

Talking about the competition on Sunday, Sue said: “It was a lovely course with quite a lot of technical combinations but it rode really well. I thought we’d be too quick as he’s quite a fast horse. We were the only combination under the optimum time of 5min with a time of 4.54min. The next closest person was on a time of 5.07min so we won.

“I couldn’t believe he did it and it still hasn’t sunk in properly. I would have been happy with just a placing.

“I’d like to event him in the future but at the moment he’s gets too excited in the dressage although he has been fifth in a one-day-event. Perhaps he’ll settle down when he’s older, but I’ll take my time with him.”

Terry Ponton and Bayside Boy took second place in the open, followed by Emma Lloyd and Mister Damask in third.

Carla Thackwray and Toni Ford triumphed in the pairs class, with Sarah Birch and Sian Littledyke as runners-up and Bobbie Martin-Pope and Jo Steele taking third place.