Piggy French crowned top event rider after ‘phenomenal’ year

The British Eventing (BE) points league winners have been announced, and Badminton winner Piggy French comes out on top after a “phenomenal” year.

Piggy was crowned top rider of 2019 and picked up the Tony Collins award with 1,768 BE points – 102 points ahead of second-placed Oliver Townend in the overall riders’ league. Tom McEwen was third with 1,339 points.

A spokesman for BE said: “Out of over 160 starts this season, Piggy secured 38 wins with a further 74 top-10 placings.

“15 of those wins were secured at international level, including taking the coveted Badminton Horse Trials title on Trevor Dickens’ Vanir Kamira, a CCI4* win at Blenheim Palace Horse Trials riding Brookfield Inocent owned by Alison Swinburn and John and Chloe Parry, and another CCI4* win at Hartpury International aboard Jayne McGivern’s Quarrycrest Echo.”

Piggy said she was “absolutely delighted” to win the title.

“It has been an incredible year and I am very proud of everything my team have achieved,” she said.

“I must thank all of my horses, my staff at home and all my owners, sponsors and supporters for helping me making it a reality.”

The top horse title was shared by Oliver Townend’s ride Ballaghmor Class and Alexander Bragg’s ride Zagreb, who won with 423 points apiece, with Piggy’s ride Vanir Kamara third.

“Mr and Mrs Ellicott’s Zagreb took the jont top spot through impressive performances at several three-sar and four-star events, along with a third place at Luhmuhlen five-star in Germany and fourth at Pau five-star in France,” said the spokesman.

“Ballaghmor Class, owned by Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan, had an incredibly strong season, placing in the top three at every event he completed including taking second place at Badminton and third at Burghhley Horse Trials.”

Alexander said Zagreb had been an “instrumental figure” in launching and developing his eventing career.

“Through thick and thin Zagreb has remained solid and reliable in his performances. We all love his enthusiasm and joy for the sport – what a horse,” he said.

Ballaghmor Class’s owners said they are “delighted and priviledged” to own the gelding, known as Thomas.

“It’s what you dream of when you become an eventing owner and we have had too many highs to mention. Anything Oliver and Thomas do in the future is purely just a bonus,” they said.

The Goldman Cup, for the leading under-21 rider, was won by Heidi Coy on 410 points, ahead of Bubby Upton on 405. Felicity Collins was third with 321.

Heidi said she was “thrilled” and thanked her “amazing” home team and coaches.

“This tops off a fabuous season I’ve had this year. I couldn’t be more proud of all my horses, especially the ones I’ve had from four-year-olds, that were not necessarily the most talented but have a great work ethic,” she said.

“It has been an honour to ride such genuine horses for a sport I love.”

The Britannia four-star league was topped by Leicestershire-based Mollie Summerland and her own Charly Van Ter Heiden with six top-10 finishes at British events and FEI Nations Cup classes. Richard Coney and Kananaskis took the runner-up spot and Emilie Chandler and Gortfadda Diamond were third.

“To have won the league is such a privilege and comes as a big shock,” said Mollie.

“Charly is the most wonderful horse to ride and I feel so lucky to have a horse like him. I am beyond grateful for the fantastic time I have behind me and very much look forward to the 2020 season with an exciting string of young horses.

The three-star league title was shared by two combinations; Piggy French and Brookfield Quality and Kitty King and Cristal Fountaine. Piggy also took third place with Highdown March. The two-star league was won by “rising star” Leilia Paske with Fernhill First Friend. Serena Kullich and Cafre First Melody were second, while William Clayton and Major Diamond Flight were third.

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Lincolnshire-based Alex Postolowsky was crowned the top foundation points rider earning 307 points across 40 starts. Georgie Strang was second and Melissa Joannides third.

The top foundation points horse was Rasshied Din’s 13-year-old Angels Spirit. The mare, ridden by Alana Sparrow, was also crowned the top grassroots foundation points horse. Christine Hudson’s Rapid Global VB, ridden by George Hilton Jones, and Katy Lawrence’s Whitemoors First Flight took joint-second.

Katy also won the top grassroots foundation points rider with 212 points from 28 top-10 placings. Alana was second and Joanne Watts third.

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