Irish rider Austin O’Connor was the delighted recipient of a beautiful timepiece from a Stamford watchmarker at the Brigstock International Horse Trials.
Robert Loomes, based in St Mary’s Hill, Stamford, helped officiate the trials which were held at Rockingham Castle from Friday last week until Sunday.
Austin, riding his second horse of the day, GFG Rambo Man, finished one second inside the optimum time across country to win the watch worth £7,500.
Austin said: “He’s a naturally quick horse.
“Having already ridden one horse around the course I knew we could make the time if I didn’t make a mistake.
“It’s a wonderful watch – I’ll be wearing it at the trot up at Badminton next week.”
Robert, who with his wife Robina Hill presented the watch to Austin, said: “It was heart in mouth stuff. To watch Austin come home so close to the optimum time was outstanding. At this top level of competition, timing is absolutely everything.”
The trials also marked Zara Phillips’ return to competive eventing, following an eight-month break after the birth of her daughter Mia.
But it was not her weekend. On High Kingdom, the horse she rode at the Burghley Horse Trials in 2012, she finished in 22nd place and pulled up at fence four during the showjumping on Black Tuxedo.
The Open Intermediate, in which GFG Rambo Man was the runner-up, was won by local rider Tom How on Belco HRS. Eventing legend Sir Mark Todd won the Advanced Intermediate riding Amacuzzi.
Oliver Smith slipped into second place with Noon Hill while Australia’s Andrew Hoy took third on Cheeky Calimbo. There were Intermediate wins for Ruth Edge on Time Machine, Jake Fowles riding Zorro G and Willa Newton with Chance Remark.