Pair claim Suffolk Punch trophy after 10-year wait

CHAMPIONS: Ann Lilley and Pat Jennings with the Suffolk Punch Horse Trophy that was won by the county for the first time in ten years. Picture by Mecha Morton
CHAMPIONS: Ann Lilley and Pat Jennings with the Suffolk Punch Horse Trophy that was won by the county for the first time in ten years. Picture by Mecha Morton
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BURY St Edmunds’ Pat Jennings and Ann Lilley have brought the Suffolk Punch Horse Trophy back to the county for the first time in its 10-year existence.

The pair, who play for Ixworth Bowls Club, claimed the trophy by winning the senior pairs final, representing Suffolk, against North Essex at the week-long National Championships, in Skegness, last month.

Despite being named the Suffolk Punch Horse Trophy, it has never been won by a pair representing the county until this year, leaving Lilley proud to finally be able to bring it home.

She said: “We were very proud to win the Senior National pairs final, especially because we have never won it before. Nobody from Suffolk has won the trophy so we are proud to bring it back to the county.”

The duo have enjoyed success since taking up the sport as a hobby in the late 1980s, but had never been able to reach the National Championship finals, let alone win them, until last year when they claimed the ladies’ pairs title.

Now they have made it two titles in as many years by winning the seniors pair final, but despite this, Jennings conceded they never expected to match their success from the previous year as she explained the long process of reaching that stage.

She said: “We’ve been trying for a number of years to get to the final but we kept getting beaten in the quarters or the semi-finals.

“We had never won a national competition until last year, and now we have done it again.

“We didn’t think we could do it again because it is extremely hard as you play against 13 different counties in a week of competition.

“We had to play four games at the finals but before reaching that stage we had to win our area competition and then our county to reach the nationals. It was a long process from when we started in early May and we have played a lot of rounds to get there.

“We would have been pleased to reach the finals, but to win it again is fantastic.”