Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street win Burghley 2019

Chairman’s Letter 2019

Dear BEWA member,

Equestrian sport in 2019 has been a case of new and – rather than old – familiar faces. We have seen the heart-warming comeback to the top of the sport by Pippa Funnell in eventing and the domination of Piggy French, who is now world number two and has enjoyed her rightful turn in the spotlight, the arrival of Lottie Fry and Georgia Wilson in dressage and para-dressage respectively, and Ben Maher’s thrilling new jumper, the aptly named Explosion W.

There has been the retirement of Hugh Thomas, one of the wisest and most articulate voices in horse sport, after 30 years as director of Badminton Horse Trials; keeping a treasured event such as this at the forefront of both competitor and public consciousness is no mean feat, as is maintaining a good relationship with a title sponsor for 28 years. Happily, his replacement, the popular Jane Tuckwell, has been one of the great constants in eventing; after 45 years in the Badminton office, she is now in the spotlight and no one deserves it more. 

There has also been the moving retirement of Sir Mark Todd, whose brand of horsemanship set a new bar in eventing and whose articulacy, grace and humour helped make Britain the undisputed world centre for the sport. We shall not see his like again; he has added a colour and charisma to the equestrian scene that is quite irreplaceable. We wish him well with his racing venture.  

In a high-octane fortnight in August, Britain won a hard-fought European team silver in eventing and a team bronze and individual silver in jumping and still managed to finish a close fourth in the European Dressage Championships despite the upsetting disqualification of Charlotte Dujardin under the blood rule. In addition, there were new stars in the para-dressage squad where international competition is becoming healthier by the season.

Oliver Townend, who is world number one in eventing for the third time, raised cheers at Burghley when he pointed out that the world’s three biggest horse trials had been won by British riders. And Pippa Funnell added wise words about how event riders need to regain the ability to ‘ride by the seat of their pants’ as well as the willingness to qualify for the major competitions by tackling the more challenging cross-country courses.

The new Olympic formats we will see in Tokyo in 2020 may, from some observers’ perspective, set a lower bar in the name of inclusivity, but many people are working hard behind the scenes to ensure that they only apply to Olympic Games and do not permeate other championships and major competitions where maintaining high standards of horsemanship are not only key to the integrity of horse sport, but also to its safety.  

As I write, the FEI is assessing bids for the world championships in 2022 and we can only hope that they have the wisdom to choose venues where there is genuine enthusiasm, expertise and, unlike in 2018, an actual real audience.

Other major challenges include Brexit, the outcome of which, at the time of writing, is anyone’s guess – whatever happens, equestrian sport will be affected, both by the willingness (or not) of companies to spend money on sponsorship and on the crucial movement of horses to and from the Continent. There is also the public behaviour of riders – there have been too many yellow cards handed out generally and still too many distressing cases in the discipline of endurance – the willingness of armchair critics and disgruntled riders to take to social media without thinking and onus on horse sport playing its part in mitigating climate change. Equestrian sport, and its many and varied sporting venues, both permanent and green-field, needs to be seen to play its part in creating a greener environment during the next decade. 

BEWA AGM and lunch – Wednesday, December 18, 12.30pm

This year’s BEWA lunch again takes place on a Wednesday and in the Pillar Hall, which is part of the Olympia hall and has its own external entrance door. 

We are extremely grateful to the kind offices of Hpower, which runs Olympia, The London International Horse Show (December 16-22), and which makes the lunch possible, as well as to our leading sponsor Badminton Horse Trials, plus the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, rEvolution and Dodson & Horrell, without whom this annual Christmas bash would be considerably less lavish.

Tickets cost £60; please order from our Hon Treasurer Lynne Reed (01245 266926; lynnereed88@gmail.com). Members are strongly encouraged to bring guests – riders, officials and friends – and to pay their subscription (£25) at the same time. If you are in any doubt about who has already been asked as an official BEWA guest, please ask Lynne Reed.

The AGM will be held upstairs in the Gallery Suite (which senior members will remember as the old press office) at Olympia 11.15am. Please send apologies for absence to our Hon Sec, Amy Powell (bennett.amy@hotmail.com).

Please indicate on the attached form whether or not you will be attending. Any matters to be discussed under AOB should be submitted to me by Friday 13th December at the latest.

Anyone who has not already got a press pass to Olympia should come to the external door of the Pillar Hall by 11am where they will be met by a BEWA committee member with a pass.

Jo Peck, Olympia’s ever welcoming press officer, has kindly agreed to provide press passes to anyone who would like to go into the show after lunch. Please hand these back to the front desk of the press office when you leave, and, if you are not working there, respect the fact that others are.

Voting details, annual subscription forms (£25), and lunch ticket applications are below. Please return by November 29.

I hope to see as many BEWA members as possible there.

With best wishes
Andrew Baldock (BEWA Chairman) 

VOTING FOR AWARDS (to be presented at the lunch)

Please email your nominations to Lynne Reed (lynnereed88@gmail.com)

The Worshipful Company of Saddlers’ award

The Worshipful Company of Saddlers will give the generous prize of a saddle to the most promising British rider aged 25 and under in one of the three Olympic disciplines. 

Please vote for one of the following:

Lottie Fry, 17th on her senior team debut at the European Championships (Dressage) 

Bubby Upton, European Young Rider team gold and individual silver medallist (Eventing)

Amy Inglis, who has made an impact on Britain’s Nations Cup squad (Jumping)

BEWA Moment of the Year

Please vote for one of the following:

Pippa Funnell’s comeback victory at Burghley

Ben Maher’s London GCT win on Explosion W

Georgia Wilson’s para-dressage debut in which she won a European gold medal

BEWA Trophy

Please vote for one of the following:

Gareth Hughes (Dressage)

Piggy French (Eventing)

Ben Maher (Jumping)


Please send a cheque, made out to BEWA, to Lynne Reed, 117 Sandford Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6DF or pay online. The BEWA account is held at HSBC.

Account number: 71298291, sort code: 40-38-18

Please state when ordering your lunch tickets if you have any dietary preferences (vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free, for instance). 

If you need a lunch ticket emailed to you for a guest/receipt, please ask Lynne. Otherwise, tickets are not required.

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