Riders from across the North-West region gathered at Kelsall Hill Equestrian Centre to decide the outcome of the hotly-contested Arena Eventing Championships kindly sponsored by Reaseheath College, Protect My Income, Eccleshall Saddlery & Lewis Hardy Registered Farrier. A record number of competitors visited the award winning venue over six fixtures to try their hand at tracks designed by BS course builder Gillian Milner.
“It was a good opportunity to be part of the Arena Eventing series and great for people to see the advertisement at such a popular facility”, Lewis Hardy Registered Farrier.
Freelance riding instructor James Dawson put his own advice to the test by taking home the crown in the Novice class.
“The courses get more demanding as the series progresses, so it enables you to hone your jumping skills ready for the season ahead. It’s also an excellent way to jump up to height in an unaffiliated competition, but feeling that every fault counts.” Said James.
Dark Oak, aka Charlie, has been partnered with James for 12 years. A real horse of a lifetime, the combination compete at BE intermediate level and grand prix BS.
“The friendly rivalry sets an amazing atmosphere throughout the winter. It draws some of the best horse & rider combinations to the venue. I want to compete against the best.”
“It has been a pleasure working with Kelsall again this year. The events are always run to a very high standard and the riders enjoy them, we are looking forward to another successful year with them!” Nick from Eccleshall Saddlery.
Lancashire based duo Lisa Durant and Siroko M (Roko to his friends) religiously took the 1 hour journey every month to ensure the 100cm title came home with them.
20 year old Siroko M, enjoys eating, jumping and going fast! The pair love Kelsall and support the series every year because the courses are so good, the competition is strong and everyone involved is so lovely and friendly.
Lisa commented: “The prizes are fab, I had to park my truck near my car when I got home after the championships as I had so much to carry!”
Nestle, if you’re reading this, Roko’s favourite treat following his moment of fame is a bowl of blue Smarties!
“We’re always so impressed by how well organised the events at Kelsall Hill are and this year’s Arena Eventing Series was no exception. A massive well done to everyone that took part in the Protect My Income 90cm class and congratulations to all the winners. Being a sponsor means that we are able to meet so many people and are able to establish relationships with competitors and spectators that we may not otherwise be able to do. Meg and the team are always a pleasure to work with and we’re excited to continue our sponsorship with them”, Abby Wilkin, Protect My Income.
It was 16-year-old Lily McCormack, who led the 57-strong 90cm league table from the 2nd round with her mum’s ‘William the wonder horse’.
Lily, a competitive member of the Cheshire Hunt South Pony Club and student at Reaseheath College, said:
“The courses that Gilly Milner designed were both interesting and challenging yet achievable and so ticked every box for us in keeping both myself and my horse focussed.”
This season Lily hopes to compete at BE100u18 with her other ride Maddockstown who she rode into 5th place in our 100cm league. However, Lily’s mum would like her to concentrate on her exams!
William the wonder horse is a superstar in his own right as when mum was busy being pregnant, William qualified for the Badminton Mitsubishi Motors Cup in 2016 and came 7th with rider Vicki Lowe.
“Reaseheath College were delighted to sponsor the Kelsall Hill Arena Eventing 80cm class and it was delightful to see all competitors developing their riding throughout the series, but more importunately having fun! A huge thank you to all the team at Kelsall Hill, including Meg Watson for the coordination of all events – we will definitely sponsor again in the future”, James Rayner, Equine Department Programme Leader.
Showjumper turned future eventing star, local rider Faith Hancock took home the 80cm champion title riding Sophia Des Reve.
Faith said: “I decided to give the Arena Eventing series a whirl, my mare has only ever competed BS and as she’s always been so brave I thought this was something different and fun for us to both try! I won the very first one we entered, and then became hooked on the challenge of getting close to the optimum times.”
Sophia had a poor start in life, being virtually a rescue case, recovered as an outstanding debt by previous owners.
“I bought her as a 3 year old and she was actually in foal at the time, so I managed to bag a BOGOF bargain! After owning her for 10 years, she tries her best for me and owes me absolutely nothing.” Explained Faith.
“We’re incredibly grateful to all of our class and prizes sponsors this series which continues to go from strength-to-strength. We would like to thank everyone involved,” Meg Watson Events Organiser.
Prizes given by all class sponsors, Arbonne, Cavalor, Equine 74, Equine Products Ltd, LeMieux, Liverpool Horse Show, North West Equine – TheraPlate, Poynstown Equestrian, Rowen Barbary Horse Feeds and Super X County.
“It made the series feel much more than an unaffiliated competition, as you wouldn’t normally win so many great prizes!”Faith Hancock.
Photographs Courtesy Of Martha Lily Photography