The Championships were held from Friday 21st Oct – Monday 24th Oct 2016 and is were the top schools from regional qualifiers around the country compete to try and achieve National Champion status. This year 950 riders were taking part. The competition is predominantly fought out between the private schools across the country but Pershore High School's equestrian team have definitely made their mark this year, qualifying for a number of disciplines but then also being crowned National Champions in the 1m showjumping. The team of Sophie Rushton, Jess Thomas, Grace Plowman and Hannah Cartwright originally qualified at Kings Equestrian in their regional round. Sadly Hannah’s horse was lame the day before the championships and so Georgina Kilmister who was already there competing in the dressage team for the school, stepped in and made the fourth member. The girls were competing against 30 teams who had qualified to get there and were the tenth team to ride so they had to make sure they rode clear rounds but as quick as possible. They immediately secured a zero score on a good time in the first round putting them into the jump off with the top 8 teams in the afternoon jump off. The pressure was on and they had to go for it. Sophie jumped first and pulled off an incredible round on her eventer Hooray Henry that she rode like a pony, cutting corners but going clear on a fast time. Jess was next on Cregduff Don, a pony she competes to a high level in working hunter classes but he found another gear and again went clear and a quick time. Georgina who had stepped in to help was faced with the biggest course both she and Casey George, her horse had ever jumped, but was brave and composed and although they had a few faults, the way she stepped up to the challenge was amazing. All pressure was then on Grace to get a clear round and quick and she did not fail. Her pony, Fernville Max, flew round at amazing pace whilst clearing the fences with ease. Pershore were into the lead and had set the standard. The teams that followed could not match the zero team score until the last team who also went clear but could not beat the amazing time set by girls to give them the win. On top of the shield given for the first time this year which will have Pershore High School as the first name engraved on it the girsl were also awarded Gillets, hats, water bottles, medals, rosettes, sashes and rugs for the horses all sponsored by KBIS Horse Insurance.
Being crowned Champions was the icing on the cake to a fantastic weekend for the team.
On Saturday Holly Scrafton, Georgina Kilmister, Jess Thomas and Grace Plowman competed in the team dressage competition and again stepped up to the challenge. None of them are dressage specialists and rode beautiful tests to finish in 10th place Nationally. Holly finished 5th in her arena and Jess 6th which was fantastic. Holly then rode a beautiful test on the Sunday in the individual dressage competition on Indian Chief to finish 9th in the country in the preliminary competition.
The team of Sophie Rushton, Ellie Gilkes, Hannah Cartwright and Grace Plowman had also qualified for the 1.10m show jumping competition at the Championships on the Saturday. Sadly Hannah couldn’t ride again due to her horse being lame but the team of three gave it their best shot and finished in a fantastic 7th place nationally. There are not many schools able to compete at this height and to be placed 7th in the country is a massive achievement.
Sunday was time for the individual speed 95-1m competition, open to any competitor that has qualified to ride a the championships. 70 riders took part and it was literally the fastest over 8 fences with tricky turns and big fences as well as some scary ones representing the Rio Olympics. Sophie, Grace and Georgina took part as an exercise class prior to the 1m competition the next day. Sophie went all out as the first Pershore rider and put herself in first place with a clear fast round setting the standard for the others to follow. That was until Grace went into the ring and flew round cutting a good few seconds off the time and clear to win the class. Pershore 1st and 2nd!!
An amazing weekend and one which I am incredibly proud to have been a part of as team manager. There was a huge amount of support for each other by the girls. The hard work and dedication to the sport shown by them and their parents has well and truly put Pershore on the Equestrian map.
Rachel Kilmister – Team Manager.