How brilliant was Piggy French‘s 2017? A spate of strong results – and a string of serious international horses – placed her firmly back on the map after missing the 2016 season to have baby Max. She clocked up four international wins – her highest tally in a season in ten years – and amassed sixteen national level wins as she came out, weekend after weekend, with a lorryload of horses and her son in tow, proving that actually, perhaps you can have it all. Through the season, she opened up about the toll that the pressures of the sport had taken on her. The break, while unplanned, had led to the birth of not only her son, but of a revitalised new Piggy, too. Her no-holds-barred return to the top levels led chef d’equipe Chris Bartle to quip that “having babies is obviously the secret – I think I’ll make it a team requirement!”
And so the successes kept rolling in, and the buzz around her impressive string intensified. In the rangy chestnut Quarrycrest Echo, who had made his move up to Advanced and CIC3* in 2016 under Tina Cook with mixed results, Piggy found a talented upper-level contender whose quirks she could untangle and weave to his advantage. The pretty and powerful mare Vanir Kamira, produced by Piggy in 2012 before going to Izzy Taylor, Paul Tapner, and then, circuitously, back to Piggy, would give her her equal top result at 4* level – a close second place at Burghley, to match her runner-up result at Badminton in 2011. Between the two horses, Piggy would fly the Union Jack three times in 2017 – at Nations Cups at Houghton Hall and Aachen, and alongside Gemma Tattersall as an individual competitor for Britain at the European Championships. Her up-and-comers, too, generated much attention, lead by 1* wunderkind Cooley Monsoon. Owned by British comedy legend Jennifer Saunders – she of Absolutely Fabulous fame and one half of iconic duo (Dawn) French and Saunders – Cooley Monsoon won six of his eleven starts and finished in the top five of the rest, with the exception of a rare twenty penalties and subsequent 20th place at Bradwall.
So why the speculation? Because, dear readers, we have every reason to believe that 2017 was simply a warm-up. With only a handful of days of completed competition in the UK, Piggy has already clocked up a slightly bonkers twelve completions. Eight of those have resulted in top-five finishes, and three of them she’s won. Oh, and those wins? She nabbed them all in one day, while competing eight horses at Oasby. We’ve just Busy Izzy and, um…Turbo Townend (I’ll copyright that later), so ten points to anyone who can come up with the catchiest nickname for Piggy for 2018.
For now, Piggy can enjoy the view from atop the British Eventing leaderboard, but we suspect she’ll be aiming to top another leaderboard this spring. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride? We very much doubt it.
To celebrate the rise and rise of Ms French, enjoy this video from An Eventful Life of one of her Oasby wins last weekend, on Graf Cavalier. Intermediate, or a Pony Club schooling track? You decide.
Go Piggy, and go eventing!
Piggy French and Graf Cavalier Oasby (1) 2018
Congratulations to Piggy French and Graf Cavalier, winners of the Intermediate Sec H and our #XCVideo at #OasbyHT Bede Events #TriStarEventing – watch and learn! https://www.an-eventful-life.com.au/event/oasby-1-2018
Posted by An Eventful Life on Wednesday, March 14, 2018