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Elizabeth, 78, Is The New Cross Country Champion!

Seventy-eight years old grandmother Elizabeth Breton was the star of the South Essex Insurance Brokers/British Horse Society Cross Country Championships this year.

Elizabeth, from Cirencester, won the novice section of the competition riding Rolo. Second was Chris Howle from Staffordshire on Seamus, and third, Rebekah Bartley and Wild Rose II from Northampton.

The open class went to 44-years-old Sue Coffin from St. Austell, Cornwall, and the Appaloosa Spot On who two years ago came from Ireland so unruly that he broke her ribs! Runner up was Terry Ponton and Bayside Boy, who had journeyed from Kent, with Emma Lloyd and Mister Damask from Denbighshire third.

The championship, held at Highworth, Wiltshire, drew competitors from 54 qualifying events nationwide.

Elizabeth, who also competed in the Open classes but took falls on her other two horses, missed her prizegiving after competing on the first of the two-day event. The moment she had finished she jumped into her car and with a friend, travelled across the country to her niece's wedding in Lincoln Cathedral!

She travelled back next day to compete in the open classes, after which BHS officials presented her rosette and prizes. Elizabeth rode as a child and after World War II competed in point to point races. She gave up horses for some years and started again to partner her granddaughter in a pairs class at the same championships two years ago.

Spot On took a year to settle and before he could be properly ridden by owner Sue Coffin. "He came over from Ireland and we have since discovered he was castrated without anaesthetic and never properly backed or schooled," said Sue. "It took a long time before he began to trust me."

Nicolina MacKenzie, equine marketing manager for sole-sponsor, South Essex Insurance Brokers, said: "This was a wonderful competition over a thoroughly suitable course. South Essex is always anxious to support events like this which provide safe and enjoyable riding coupled with a memorable experience."

Winners of the pairs class were Carla Thackwray, 18, and Toni Ford, 15, who had both made the long journey from Yorkshire to compete. In second place was Surrey pair Sarah Birch and Sian Littledyke, with Bobbie Martin-Pope and 12-years-old Jo Steele from Somerset.



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