Cardiff-based rider Anna Saunders, 22, put in a confident round on cross-country day of the H&H Festival of Eventing to become the new leader in the 100cm class.
Riding her own 16.1hh mare, Curious Lady, Anna stormed round the course jumping clear. She picked up 0.8 too-fast time penalties around the 5min 55sec track, to add her to her 30.5 dressage, which saw them fourth after the first phase.
Anna told H&H the 13-year-old mare, known as Poppy, “hit everything perfectly”.
“She loves water so it never worries me – she speeds up for it,” said Anna, a first-year business management student.
“I knew I had to watch the clock. Knowing I was lying in fourth I had to be as close to the time as possible – we’re normally too slow but this year she has been too quick.”
Anna is a member of the Riders 2000 Riding Club and takes part in unaffiliated eventing while also competing in British Eventing (BE) on a ticket.
“I would like to do more BE this season and maybe try a novice. Dressage is our least favourite but Poppy is really good cross-country,” said Anna.
“We’re aiming to qualify for the Badminton Grassroots Championships and have two qualifiers towards the end of the season, it would be amazing to ride there.”
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Anna, who has owned Poppy for eight years, said she might be a “little bit nervous” ahead of tomorrow’s showjumping.
“I’m usually fine when I get on. I have a pole to spare so that’s a relief and takes a little bit of the pressure off.
“I’m so excited, I love jumping and Poppy loves it – she sees a fence and pricks her ears. She is a shy horse and very polite.
Anna’s nearest rival is Julia Dungworth on Irish Spring who climbed to second place from joint 14th on a dressage score of 35.5, and Jemma Richardson on Parkhill Poppy lies in third after also moving up from joint 14th.
Don’t miss the full report from the H&H Festival of Eventing in Horse & Hound magazine — on sale Thursday, 6 June