Big wins, gold medals and all-time greats: seven moments we loved from the 2023 eventing season

  • The 2023 eventing season in the northern hemisphere is nearly over – the British affiliated fixtures for the year are done and the final five-star of the year, Pau Horse Trials, is currently taking place.

    What have been your highlights? Did you enjoy watching British riders fly to success or perhaps you rode in your first affiliated event or stepped up a level? Read on as we recap a few of the best moments…

    1. Ros Canter’s Badminton win

    Ros and Lordships Graffalo went one better than last year to take the title, Ros’s first at five-star, at Badminton Horse Trials in May. It was a dramatic Badminton, with tiring cross-country ground meaning no one made the optimum time and this phase was very influential, so although Ros’s supremacy was undoubted when she led from the start, there were opportunities for good cross-country horses to bound up the leaderboard.

    2023 season highlights: Ros Canter wins Badminton

    Ros Canter celebrates a wet Badminton win. Credit: Peter Nixon

    2. Pippa Funnell’s triumph at Bramham

    It was 31 years since Pippa first took top spot at Bramham Horse Trials and she said she couldn’t describe how special it was to win a big one at this stage of her career. Pippa was at her best coaxing a super performance from MCS Maverick, a new ride for her this year, who is finishing his season at Pau five-star.

    2023 season highlights: Pippa Funnell wins Bramham

    Pippa Funnell on the podium at Bramham with Piggy March and Jesse Campbell. Credit: Peter Nixon

    3. A huge moment for US eventing

    The home side had not had a winner at Kentucky Three-Day Event since 2008 until April this year, when Tamie Smith fulfilled the potential she has long promised by winning on Mai Baum. Off the back of world team silver last year, it was a landmark moment for US eventing, as well as for Tamie herself, a late-comer to the sport who was a single mother struggling to survive in her 20s and did not compete internationally until she was 32.

    2023 season highlights: Tamie Smith lands Kentucky

    Tamie Smith and Mai Baum win Kentucky 2023. Credit: Amy Dragoo

    4. Britain’s European Championships team gold

    After the lack of a team medal at last year’s World Championships, we take nothing for granted and it was all the sweeter to see Britain back on the top of the podium this year – a true highlight of the 2023 eventing season. Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo led the charge with the individual title and it was a thrill to see Kitty King land her first senior individual medal when she took silver on Vendredi Biats.

    Yasmin Ingham, Kitty King, Laura Collett and Ros Canter take European team gold at the 2023 championships. Credit: Peter Nixon

    5. Austin O’Connor’s Maryland 5 Star success

    It’s barely over but we’re happy to re-live this moment, which was a massive one for Ireland and for Austin personally. It had been 58 years since an Irish rider topped the podium at five-star. This was also a triumph for a true event horse in Colorado Blue, a consistent performer who excels in the all-important cross-country phase.

    2023 eventing season

    Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue fly a fence on the way to Maryland 5 Star victory in 2023. Credit: Amy Dragoo

    6. Ballaghmor Class’s 10th five-star top five finish – and second Burghley win

    We already knew Oliver Townend’s ride “Thomas” was an all-time great, but Burghley Horse Trials this year confirmed it when he claimed his second title there, six years after his first. This was also Olympic gold medallist Ballaghmor Class’s 10th top-five finish at five-star.

    2023 eventing season highlights: Oliver Townend wins Burghley

    Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class en route to Burghley victory in 2023. Credit: Peter Nixon

    7. British one-two-three at Luhmühlen

    After the disappointment of having to withdraw London 52 from Badminton with an overreach, Laura Collett brought him back to win Luhmühlen Horse Trials, their third different five-star title. They headed an all-British top three when Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) and Yasmin Ingham (Rehy DJ) landed the other podium places.

    Laura Collett and London 52 celebrate a Luhmühlen win in June 2023. Credit: Libby Law

    What were your favourite moments of the 2023 eventing season? Write to us at hhletters@futurenet.com – please include your nearest town and county so we can consider your letter for publication.

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