Gemma Tattersall clinched her first CCI5* title at the Chedington Bicton Park Horse Trials aboard Chris and Lisa Stone’s homebred Chilli Knight.
During the winner’s press conference, Gemma’s boyfriend Gary Stevens took to the mic and proposed — and she said yes!
The one-off event in Devon was the first 5* event to run on UK soil in two years and recorded an all-female top three — the first time this has been achieved in 18 years.
Pippa Funnell (Billy Walk On) and Piggy French (Vanir Kamira) finished second and third respectively.
Pippa was also a part of the previous all-female podium finish, when she won Badminton in 2003 (the year she became the first rider ever to do the Grand Slam — win Badminton, Kentucky and Burghley consecutively) ahead of Pia Pantsu and Jeanette Brakewell.
“I can’t believe I’m sitting between these two legends of the sport,” said Gemma. “Pippa has been my heroine forever and Piggy is just the best rider in the world.
“I never dared to dream. Before the showjumping, I tried to pretend that I was going into Ring 2 at Hickstead, which is my local event and where I jump day after day.”
It was all the more special as Gemma was there when Kings Gem — who is by the Stones’ Badminton-winning stallion Chilli Morning and out of Mary King’s mare Kings Gem — was born.
“It’s been a long road, lots of hard work and he’s a fabulous little horse,” said Gemma of the 11-year-old who was one of only three to finish inside the 11mins 16secs optimum time on cross-country day.
“It’s just the biggest relief and elation. He’s now become one of the best cross-country horses in the world. He feels like a little pony at home, but on the cross-country he turns into a lion.”
All riders had high praises for Bicton’s organising team, who had just 11 weeks to get this top-level event up and running.
Mark Phillips designed the course, which Piggy French described as “the toughest five-star I’ve ever ridden” due to the hilly terrain.
View the full results.
Photos by Hannah Cole Photography