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Midlands victorious in the KBIS U18 Championships
It was the turn of the Midlands again at the KBIS U18 Championships when they put in a sterling performance to win the team championships, a title they last held in 2009, under the careful guidance of regional coordinator Arabella Bealby.
Held once again in the grounds of Weston Park, Shropshire, the eight teams started their fight for the title, which was won in 2010 by the South East team, on the Thursday with the start of two days of dressage. The Midlands team, which consisted of Sophie How, Abigail Boulton, Teri Rudkin and Bert Boulton, got off to a good start when Sophie, riding Hows Racesafe’s The Sky Master, produced a super test scoring her just 39.5 penalties, a mark that was unable to be beaten and put them individually into first place at the end of this phase. With the rest of the team all producing tests in the forties it was the start they needed to be in with a chance of taking home the trophy.
The under 18 riders made light work of the cross country course with over seventy percent coming home without jumping penalties, including the four Midlands team members. Unfortunately Sophie picked up 3.6 time penalties which dropped her into third place individually behind Alicia Hawker of the South West team in second and Will Furlong, from the South East team in first.
With scores so close in the individual and team placings overnight on Saturday it was down to the final show jump the following morning. As all four team members took a pole it looked like they might have let the Northern team, who were hot on their tails, in with a chance. But as the poles fell for others, they managed to keep hold of their lead for a nail biting finish.
The final score for the victorious Midlands team was 208.6 and, proving just how close it was, in second place the Northern team, made up of Jodie McGregor, Samantha Widd, Alice Barker and James Bracegirdle, finished just point six of a penalty behind on 209.2. The Central team then came in third on their combined score of 215.1.
This was the first year for Arabella as the Midlands Coordinator making her teams win even more special ‘ The win was most unexpected. We are lucky to have some talented combinations in our area and they have all got to know each other at training and competitions during the season. For one of our team members, Teri Rudkin, it was her first CCI* competition, after only starting her British Eventing career this year. They all work so hard and we had such fun throughout the whole week, the trophy was just the icing on the cake.’
In the individual Championships there wasn’t a pole to be had between the top four, with Will Furlong in first on 41.1, Alicia Hawker in second with Nan kin Des Routes on 41.7, Sophie How third on 43.1 and Jodie Migrator in fourth on 43.7. It was soon clear that Adrian Southward’s track would take more jumping then first thought. In particular fence five and six, a parallel on a related distance to an upright, claimed their fair share of riders. Jumping in reverse order Jodie’s four faults took the pressure of slightly for those above her and also meant that both Sophie Freeman and Francesca Bail lieu, of the Central team, who jumped two of what was to be just eight clear rounds out of the fifty five starters, moved up the placing individually into fourth and fifth respectively. Sophie How then also took just the one pole but managed to hang on to her third place. As Alicia entered the ring she now had one fence in hand of which she made use as they just knocked a pole at fence five in what was otherwise a lovely round. Will look set to jump a clear as the eye catching Pioneer Sylvia carefully popped over the first few fences but then they also rolled a pole at fence five. 16-year-old Will however kept his nerve over the remaining course, including the treble of uprights to keep hold of his first and claim the KBIS U18 Individual title. For Will, who took on the ride of the nine-year-old mare in 2009, this was the perfect end to what has been his best season to date.
KBIS British Equestrian Insurance have been long term supporters of the Junior riders having sponsored the JRN series (as it was previously referred too) for four years and continuing to do so under the newly named u18 series to make it five years in a row. As well as the ONu18 series and Championships KBIS also took on the sponsorship of the BE100u18 series this year, which has just seen eight area finals take place across the country. KBIS commented‘ The U18 series offers a great opportunity for our junior riders, not only does it enable them to compete against riders of a similar age but also the training opportunity and guidance at events is so valuable and provides a solid foundation from which to build. The Championships at Weston are a joy to be a part of, there is such camaraderie between teams and it is wonderful to see, what is for many, their first Championship experience.‘ Many riders have come up through the junior programme to then go on and have success at Young rider and Senior level. Last years winner Tom Jackson successfully represented Great Britain at the Junior Europeans Championships this year in Vale Sabroso Portugal, while the 2009 winner, Lucy Loughton, won the Young rider CCI** here at Weston today.