H&H Champs: 71-year-old Sally Pidsley takes the 70cm honours

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Sally Pidsley proved she is still going strong in the saddle aged 71 after riding Tranwheal Tineth Moon to 70cm victory at the inaugural Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships.

The grandmother from West Devon steered her 13-year-old mare to the top of the leaderboard following yesterday’s cross-country (28 May) — they were the solo combination to go inside the optimum time in the 70cm class.

Sally travelled on her own from her base near Tavistock with ‘Storm’ — who she has owned for seven years.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Sally. “I would never have thought it was possible to win, I’m so happy.”

The pair had one fence in-hand going into today’s showjumping. After having one down, Sally held it together to finish 1.6 penalties ahead of eventual runner-up Shannon Stratton and Just Handy — the 17-year-old gelding was competing at his final competition before retiring.

Sally has affiliated at British Eventing and is also a regular competitor on the Riding Club circuit. The retired nurse impressively bounced back following a broken knee just 18 months ago.

“Riding at this age is great — it gives you something to live for!” she added. “You just have to keep doing it. As the saying goes ‘use it or lose it.”

Sally admitted to pre-competition nerves ahead of the H&H Championships and said she did get rather superstitious, particularly about not talking to H&H before finishing her showjumping.

“I think I walked the showjumping course about six times — I did get nervous,” she said.

Storm is the only horse Sally competes, although she does have her retired eventer at home too.

“Storm lives in the field 24/7 — even during the winter — I think it helps her. She is a typical mare, but is very nice to ride and certainly looks after me. She did have a bout of laminitis, so has had her ups and downs.”

It appears Sally has no plans to hang up her boots quite yet — this could just be the beginning.

Don’t miss the full report from the Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships in H&H — on sale Thursday, 8 June.