Australia’s Paul Tapner and Bonza King of Rouges made it two in a row with a win in the MS Amlin Eventers' Challenge at The Hickstead Royal International.
With it appearing that the draw had been seeded with the reining champion last to go, Paul 'Taperz' Tapner was feeling both the heat and the pressure. Some of eventing's leading ladies had set some blistering times towards the tail end of the class with Britain's Georgie Strang leading, having pipped Ireland’s Elisabeth Power (the 2016 winner) by just 0.09sec.
The 'elite amateur', as he so describes himself, knew exactly what he needed to do and shaved more than 4sec off the leading time to become the first back-to-back winner of the MS Amlin Eventers’ Challenge.
“I’ve had the last 12 months to prepare myself. I knew exactly how fast I went last year and I knew exactly how much faster I was going to go, and how many fewer strides or extra strides I was going to do between various fences. It was that calculated,” said Paul, who who combines competing with his job for the Event Rider Masters series.
Runner-up Georgie Strang produced a super round with Cooley Earl, who was having his second attempt at the class. “It felt amazing, I didn’t think I’d come second as there were some very quick rounds. I thought the only way I’d win it would be if Paul knocked one down.”