Hospital and cancellation prove no barrier for Brit as last-minute diversion results in victory

  • A leading British eventer turned disaster into triumph after a last-minute reroute following the cancellation of Ballindenisk resulted in a win and full house of top-10 placings.

    Holly Woodhead was among the many Brits who had caught the ferry to Ireland to compete at the international event (20-22 April).

    But unforecast heavy rain forced the event to cancel after many had already arrived.

    “I was about 20 miles away when we got the phone call to say it was cancelled,” said Holly.

    “So I quickly thought ‘what can we do while we are here?’

    “I wanted to give the horses a good rest as they had travelled a long way, so my friends at River Lodge Equestrian gave us some stables and we had a great two days there.

    “Holly Bishop, of Parkfield Breeding [who owns Holly Woodhead’s Wiltshire base and several of her rides] managed to get me and all the horses registered with Eventing Ireland and entered into Tyrella one-day-event.”

    They drove the seven hours up to Northern Ireland, where all five of Holly’s horses scored sub-30 dressage tests and jumped double clears in intermediate and novice sections.

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    The result was made even more impressive as the 24-year-old had been in hospital the previous week for a stomach ulcer.

    “I was in hospital the day before we left [for Belton the previous weekend] and initially I wasn’t going to ride,” said Holly, who finished third in the Belton CIC2* aboard Parkfield Quintessential (pictured, top).

    At Tyrella, Holly took home a win aboard Parkfield Quintessential, second on Global H, who is part-owned by Carl Hester, fourth on E Warrantson, fifth on Findus PFB and 10th on Mr Sneezy.

    I think everything happens for a reason,” laughed Holly, adding the horses coped “amazingly” with the journey. “We did an awful lot of miles, but it was worth it — I can’t praise the Irish hospitality enough.”

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

    This week’s magazine (26 April), features a full Badminton preview, including a cross-country course walk with Mary King and full form guide for every horse and rider.

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