Pippa Funnell, Tom McEwen and Zara Tindall among early entries as eventing prepares to return

  • Five-star winners and leading names in the sport are among the early entries as eventing prepares to return in a little over two weeks.

    British Eventing (BE) has been given the green light to resume in England, and entries opened for the first three events on the re-opening weekend for the sport yesterday (24 June).

    Aske (North Yorkshire), Tweseldown (Hants) and Barbury (Wilts) will be the first events off the mark on 10/11-12 July, all being well.

    Tom McEwen and his 2019 Pau CCI5* winner Toledo De Kerser, with whom he also helped the British side to team gold at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, are among the major players entered in the open intermediate (OI) at Barbury.

    Zara Tindall has two rides in Class Affair and Watkins, while other entries include Willa Newton with three (Cock A Doodle Doo, Moonlight Dance S and Rebellious II), as well as a couple of exciting new rides for Max Warburton, in the shape of Quantum BT4 (previously partnered by Andrew Nicholson) and Sir Papillon, successfully piloted from a young horse by Laura Collett.

    By mid-afternoon on Thursday (25 June) — one day after entries opened — Tweseldown had more than 1,100 combinations hoping for a run.

    These include Sarah Bullimore and her multiple CCI5* contender Reve Du Rouet, whose multiple top-10 finishes at the sport’s top level include fourth at back-to-back Burghleys in 2018 and 2019.

    Pippa Funnell, Mary King and Francis Whittington have a number of OI rides at the Hampshire event, while Tom is entered here on several horses as well as holding entries at Barbury.

    Bramham 2015 CCI3* and Blair 2016 CIC3* (now CCI4*L/S respectively) winners Bayano and Flora Harris are also on the start list, as is Halltown Harley and Georgie Spence, who flew out to compete in the Tokyo Olympic test event last year.

    Nicola Wilson heads the OI entries at Aske, bringing forward JL Dublin and Erano M. She is joined by Ireland’s Susie Berry on last year’s Hartpury CCI3*-L runner-up John The Bull, as well as Michael Owen with several rides, including his experienced five-star campaigner Bradeley Law.

    Richard Coney is also on the start list, with his junior and young rider medal-winning partner Kananaskis, with whom he also contended senior Nations Cups last year, as well as Mermus R Diamonds.

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    Competition will look different when eventing returns “behind closed doors”, in order to comply with government guidance, social distancing rules and to keep everyone involved safe.

    New measures include paying start fees online, reduced numbers on site, PPE where necessary for volunteers and print-at-home numbers.

    BE released further information yesterday (24 June), which featured details such as the fact it will not be compulsory for events to provide commentary and prize money, what to do about hat tagging, trade stands and more, in addition to previously outlined measures.

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