Pupils from the Borris Vocational School in Co Carlow rode out as the dual winners of today’s Hurst College National Senior Schools Jumping Championships.
Patrick Doyle (Boley Boy), Aoife Murphy (Garrynadruig Turbo), Catherine Kavanagh (Coppenagh Blitz) and Claire Kavanagh (Clonagoose Daniel Dubh) made up the winning team, with Aoife claiming individual honours as well.
Having produced three clears in the first round, the team was able to drop Catherine’s eight fault round and finish on a team score of zero. Former winners Wellington College and Millfield School finished second equal with eight faults.
Seventeen-year-old Aoife was the fastest of the five double clears in the jump-off, shaving 0.28 off the leading time to take the win ahead of runner-up George Laing from Hurst College.
It was a great day for the Borris Vocational School riders, with Claire Kavanagh (15) finishing eventual seventh in the individual honours, with 14-year-old Patrick Doyle finishing in eighth place.
Irish schools have a good record in this championship, with the title going to Newbridge College in Co Kildare 12 months ago, but this was the first win for the Borris Vocational School.
The school did finish in fourth place on their last visit two years ago, but this year they not only won the seniors title but brought a junior team as well, who also qualified for the final in Hickstead’s famous Longines International Arena.
“We also won the inter schools league back home in Ireland, so it’s been a good year for our school,” said Aoife.
Aoife’s horse Garryndruig Turbo is a former Grade A showjumper, and she has had the ride on her for three years. “She’s quite a cheeky mare, but she’s a pet in the stable and she loves jumping clear rounds,” she said.
Although it was a long journey from Ireland – with the horses travelling via ferry and the riders flying over – today’s win made it more than worthwhile. The quartet can continue the celebrations over the weekend when they go to watch international showjumping at the London leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour.
Millfield School claimed their third Hickstead title in four years when winning the Hurst College Junior Schools Championship.
The team of Tara Kay (Amandas), Charlotte Manton (Tullibards Boom Groom), Hatty Kingsford (Killycloghan Classic Melody) and Lily Rhys (Fond Of A Drop) secured the title for their Glastonbury-based school for the second year in a row.
Both Millfield and eventual runners-up Seaford College had to jump-off for honours after both teams produced a perfect sweep of four clear rounds apiece.
In the jump-off, Tara (14), Charlotte (13), Hatty (13) and Lily (14) repeated their clears to take the win, while Seaford ended up on eight faults.
All four members of the winning team also compete in eventing. Three of the riders are competing at BE100 level, with Charlotte hoping to step up to this height this season.
Hatty and Lily were both in the victorious team last year, so were making a winning return to the All England Jumping Course. “It feels really good to be part of the winning team for our school,” said Hatty. “My mare loved the course, it was really flowing and it’s a big arena which suits her.”
A pupil from The Towers School in Steyning took the top prize in the Hurst College Junior Schools Individual Championship.
Briony Martin, 14, and her pony My Time IV claimed individual honours after a fiercely competitive class.
They were last to go in the jump-off, so they had to wait until 14 other riders had tackled the shortened course against the clock. Briony knew she would have to pull out an impressive performance to take the lead, and she certainly did that – whizzing round in a time of 34.09sec to knock 0.82sec off the leading time.
Briony is no stranger to competing at Hickstead, and today was her third time riding in the Longines International Arena. “It’s such good fun, I always love it here,” she said.
Making their performance even more impressive is the fact My Time IV has had an eye removed. “He may only have one eye but he’s amazing. Although he can be quite cheeky he’s so cool, showjumping is definitely our thing,” she added.
Honor Redhouse claimed the Hickstead Elite 1.10m NSEA Individual Championship, riding her Connemara pony Zara Queen of Hearts. Today’s win marked a double for the pair, who won the same title here at the Hurst College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships 12 months ago.
“It’s my final year on her so it was great to win this class,” said Honor, 15, who is a pupil at Radnor House School in Sevenoaks. “My mare really loves the arena and the atmosphere here. It’s so nice that younger riders are able to compete here as well as the pros.”
After her win in the Longines International Arena, Honor was presented with a lesson with top Irish showjumper Trevor Breen – which was an added bonus for the young rider, who already trains with Trevor and his wife Caroline.
The Hickstead Elite 1.00m NSEA Team Championship took place in the Equine America Ring Three, with the title going to the Lady Manners School in Derbyshire.
The Hurst College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships were first held in 1964. Since then thousands of young riders have come to Hickstead each summer, each hoping to qualify to jump on the hallowed turf of the Longines International Arena.
Many familiar names have taken part in the championships, including riders Pippa Funnell, Robert Whitaker and Jessica Mendoza, as well as the Duchess of York, supermodel Jodie Kidd and BBC presenter Clare Balding.
“This event is one of the highlights of the amateur equestrian calendar, and competing at this level requires great skill and considerable courage,” said Tim Manly, Headmaster of sponsors Hurst College. “It’s been a great day of competition, with fantastic spirit shown by the riders.”