Midhurst Rother College student Ashley Baker (15) has been celebrating an excellent show jumping success at Royal Windsor recently. He finished fourth in a very tough junior speed class, the British Riding Club Top Score, on his Irish horse, Cowboy, against some extremely nifty and sure-footed ponies.
From the village of Rogate, Ashleyhas been riding since he was three-years-old, and is now a Year 10 student at Midhurst Rother College.
Cowboy has been in the Baker household for two-and-a-half years. He was bought as a 10-year-old from the hunting field, but with no show jumping experience.
Ashley’s mother, Katrina, said: ” He took to the sport straight away and gelled with Ashley immediately. We knew they had something special when not long after Cowboy came to us they qualified for the BSJA Championships in Wales.”
In order to gain a coveted place at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, Ashley and Cowboy won two West Sussex qualifiers. Their place in the Top Score event on the day put them through to the championships.”
Ashley said: “It was nerve-wracking as the championship was against the clock with a joker, with some very spritely ponies as competition. We were first to go too, so the whole thing was quite intense. Cowboy jumped his socks off for a clear, so we stayed in the lead for quite a while, but the final result of fourth place was better than I could ever have hoped for.”
Ashley, whose inspiration is Australian eventer Peter Gillies, with whom he has trained for the last two years, says he thought the experience as whole was ‘fantastic’ and although his head has not been turned away from studies and intended career in the veterinary world, he was thrilled to be walking the course alongside international stars such as Guy Williams and the Funnells, and to competing in such a prestigious international environment.
He regularly represents the school,where he is head prefect, in National Schools equestrian events and also competes for Cowdray Pony Club and Wey Riding Club. In addition he mucks out three horses before school and exercises at least one when he gets home.
He has already spent time at Liphook Veterinary Hospital for work experience and this summer will shadow a farrier- a great example in determination