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Eventer in the pink for charity bid

PUBLISHED: 09:21 13 April 2009 | UPDATED: 10:46 07 July 2010

Among the hundreds of horses and international equestrian stars at the start of Burnham Market Horse Trials, one competitor stood out from the crowd.

Athlone Frankie, still a novice in the eventing world, drew surprised looks from onlookers and rivals as he belted around the cross-country course with a pink ribbon clipped and dyed into his hind.

Among the hundreds of horses and international equestrian stars at the start of Burnham Market Horse Trials, one competitor stood out from the crowd.

Athlone Frankie, still a novice in the eventing world, drew surprised looks from onlookers and rivals as he belted around the cross-country course with a pink ribbon clipped and dyed into his hind.

It is because his rider, 17-year-old Norwich School student Steph Richardson, was using the competition to raise money for breast cancer research.

She came up with the idea after a family friend was diagnosed with the illness and hopes to raise £300 for charity during the competition.

She said: “After I found out more I just wanted to promote it, not only for the people who are going through it, but for their relatives and those close to them.

“I was competing quite a lot so I thought this was the best way to promote it. When the pink is sprayed on for cross-country everyone looks at him and I get really embarrassed, but when they realise what it is for they just think it is fantastic.”

Miss Richardson, a member of North Norfolk Pony Club, has been riding since she was a toddler and is now in her third year of formal competition.

Her mother Pam, also dressed in pink to help the cause, said: “I am just really proud of her. It is a tremendous thing for a young girl of her age to do, especially while she is in the middle of her AS levels and driving lessons.”

The horse trials at Sussex Farm, now in their tenth year, regularly attract the sport's biggest names including Royal rider and world champion Zara Phillips.

But even though the Queen's granddaughter is not competing this year, hundreds are expected to flock to the remaining two days to see the likes of New Zealand's equestrian legend Mark Todd and British Olympic medallist William Fox Pitt in the advanced classes.

On Thursday, the crowds which gathered with picnic chairs and sandwiches on the spectator's mound saw another British Olympian, Suffolk-based rider Sharon Hunt, putting a novice horse through its paces in the disciplines of dressage, show-jumping and cross-country.

She said because she was trained in Norwich she always enjoyed returning to Norfolk to compete.

“It is always a buzz to ride in front of a crowd, and the horses always seem to go well here,” she said.

“This is a great event which has just grown and grown. Now, I cannot think of any of the top riders who don't come here.”

More than 950 horses were entered for this year's trials, from as far afield as Portugal and Germany.

Event director Alec Lochore said: “It is a unique sport because the crowd can get very close to the riders and the action. If you have got somebody who wants an autograph it is not that difficult to go out there and find the riders.”

For Steph Richardson's fundraising website see www.act4addenbrookes.org.uk/Richardson/

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