Carriage drivers from the Riding for the Disabled’s South East Region braved the torrential rain at Sands Farm, Warnham on Tuesday in the annual qualifying competition for the RDA National Championship in 2016.
Drivers from across Surrey, Sussex and Kent went head-to-head in the three combined disciplines of dressage, cones and obstacles. Only the top two places in the Open, Intermediate and Novice qualified.
The Carriage Driving Groups represented included East Sussex’s Heron’s Ghyll (Whitesmith) and Kipling County (Chalvington), Happy Landings from Horsham, West Sussex and Stella Hancock’s group from Worplesdon, Surrey.
In an exciting finish through the obstacle course, Amanda Hardy from Happy Landings drove a swift Serenade to a decisive win in the Novice class against her ‘stablemate’ Sally Jones driving Misty. In the Bertie Bassett Intermediate, only a handful of points separated winner Lee Chivers and Dennis of Kipling County from Sarah Pain driving Eddie from Stella Hancock’s Group .
The Open was won by last year’s intermediate winner, Joanne McNicoll of Kipling County driving Dennis, comfortably leading all the way in each discipline while Tracey Spencer recovered from fifth after the dressage to finish in second place.
In the Assisted Whips Class points were close again between Chris Collins in first place and Lorraine Mercer in second, both of whom were driving Bertie Bassett and both from Heron’s Ghyll.
Sarah Goad from Regional Sponsors, Cowan Architects, presented the awards. She was impressed by the speed and agility needed from the carriage drivers in the three disciplines. “This has been really inspirational to see the skill and dexterity required from these incredible drivers. I’ve been amazed today” she commented at the end of the day.
Chairman of the RDA South East Region, Lindsay Correa gave thanks to the hard work of the team behind the scenes in putting the event together saying\: “I take a lot of pride in the events that we offer to our regional members and the team work hard to make them happen. We’re also very grateful to our wonderful judges led by Sara Howe, who herself has just returned from the World Championships in Holland with a bronze medal for Team GB. Congratulations, Sara”.