A team from the local Handcross Park School were victorious in the Junior Schools’ competition at the Hurstpierpoint College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships at Hickstead (3 August).
The trio of Bryony Martin (Golden Liberty II), Brooke Tusler (Elliot I Am) and Lorna Breen (Dorrito) were the only team to produce three clear rounds to take the title.
Lorna is following in her parents’ footsteps – her father is top Irish international showjumper Shane Breen while her mother Chloe (nee Bunn) is also a successful rider as well as being the daughter of Hickstead founder Douglas Bunn. The family lives at Hickstead Place, so the win came on home turf for the young rider.
“I have had Dorrito for a year now, and he mainly does showjumping,” said Lorna, 10. “Winning today was better than watching daddy’s wins here!”
Her teammate Bryony was delighted to win on Golden Liberty II after a difficult few months. “This is the first time we have won here and it is made so much more special by the fact that the pony I was riding was hit by a car in December and is now winning at Hickstead. He escaped from his stable and ran onto the main road, thankfully he is fine now,” said the 12-year-old rider.
Brooke, 11, was back at Hickstead with her pony Elliot I Am just a week after competing at the Longines Royal International Horse Show. “I rode here last week in the Winter 128cm Championship, but it is just as special to win here. Riding in the International Arena is so exciting,” she said.
In the Junior Individual competition, 14-year-old Grace Gardner from Cowbridge Comprehensive School came out on top in what was a very close jump-off. Only 0.6sec separated the top three riders, with Grace finishing less than three hundredths of a second faster than Charlie O’Dwyer from Newbridge College in Kildare in second place, and just ahead of Lingfield College’s Lauren Caroline in third.
Grace’s win came courtesy of her 16-year-old showjumper Brillview Quelle Surprise, with whom she has qualified for the Pony Club National Championships. “We rode here last year as a team but came 10th – I never expected to win,” she said.
Imogen Hule from the Godolphin School took the top spot in the Senior Schools Individual Final.
“I have been waiting for years for this moment!” said a delighted Imogen, 18. “I have been trying for six years consecutively to win this final and it has finally happened.”
In the teams, Millfield won for the third time in four years, having already taken the title in 2014 and 2016. The trio of Flo Norris (Darling HDX), Alanna Clements (Tinka’s Rox) and Katy Cabourne (Cupid) all produced clear first rounds and had to jump-off against New Hall School in Chelmsford, but a steady clear by Flo Norris was enough to seal the win for Millfield.
“It was amazing as I won here last year on the same horse so this has just topped it off,” said Flo, who came third individually as well behind her team mate Katy, who had to ride one of the horses belonging to her school after her own pony went lame the day before the competition. “This is the first time I have ever ridden him let alone jumped him, but he was amazing and so easy,” said Katy.
Third team member Alanna had hoped to do well but couldn’t believe they’d actually won. “This is my first year jumping at Hickstead and it has been incredible,” she said.
Pony Club Final
Event rider Emma Thomas, 18, from the Warwickshire Hunt Branch won the National Pony Club Championship at Hickstead. She finished nearly a second faster than her nearest rival in the final jump-off to land the title on her mare Cyclone.
“To win at Hickstead is brilliant, the atmosphere is amazing,” she said. “My tactics for the jump-off were just to go for it, I had nothing to lose. She was perfect everywhere, she just flew.”
In the team section, Garth Hunt members Lucas Peries (Lorna’s Pride), Isobel Stenning (Dunuce Rolling Thunder), Megan Day (Cluoin Carin Mirah) and Ellie Francis (Gatestown Diva) took the title after a deciding jump-off against East Hertfordshire Hunt.
Both teams had finished on a score of zero, but Garth Hunt team member Megan Day claimed victory in a jump-off against East Hertfordshire Hunt rider Abbi Jackson.
“I only got back from travelling on my gap year two days ago, so I’ve just jumped him once before coming here,” said Megan, 18, who has spent the last month living in a jungle in Borneo. “Winning here today is just unbelievable.”
Lucas also had little time to prepare for the competition. “This is the third time I have ever sat on this pony as I was called in as a wild card,” he explained.
The youngest team member was 14-year-old Isobel Stenning. “I have never ridden here before so it is amazing to have won at my first attempt. We thought we would be going home at lunch time,” she said.
Twenty-one-year-old Ellie Francis is an experienced showjumper. “I compete up to 1.30m level on this horse and will be back in September for the All England Jumping Championships,” she said.