Tapner triumphs at Hickstead


Australia’s Paul Tapner and Bonza King of Rouges did the double today at Hickstead when claiming the MS Amlin Eventers’ Challenge for the second year in a row.

Drawn last to go, the reining champion was feeling both the heat and the pressure, after some of the eventing world’s leading stars clocked up fast rounds. Georgie Strang (GBR) was leading, having pipped Ireland’s Esib Power (the 2016 winner) by just 0.09sec, so Paul needed to deliver a fast clear to retain his title.

The 43-year-old did just that, shaving 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 describes himself as a ‘semi-professional event rider’ who combines competing with his job for the Event Rider Masters series.

Asked how it felt to win at Hickstead for a second time, Paul said it was ‘great fun’. “I enjoy the crowds, so to win in an Arena like Hickstead is my cup of tea. I’m a bit laid back so the more pressure the better, and the more atmosphere the better.”
Paul paid credit to Bonza King Of Rouges co-owners, Jenny Walller (the owner of Paul’s Badminton winner Inonothing) and Angela Scott, who was originally responsible for bringing Paul to the UK from Australia.

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.”