Team of young riders from the Duchess's School in Alnwick win National Schools Equestrian Association final
The Duchess’s High School Equestrian Team took part in four very busy days of competing in the National Schools Equestrian Association (NSEA) finals in Buckinghamshire having qualified at regional qualifiers throughout the year, including at Floors Castle, Ian Stark’s Equestrian in Selkirk and Alnwick Ford Equestrian in Longframlington.
Ellie Gray, Poppy Dods, Will Hardy, Eve Cookson, Frankie Herdman, Annabelle Gray and Lucy Dods, managed by Rachel Gray of Great Ryle, Whittingham, rode against some very fierce competition, including teams from public and private schools, to achieve a remarkable team first in the Regional Points League Show Jumping (all team members jumping at various heights), second in the 105cm Arena Eventing (jumping with style – JWS), fourth in the 85cm Arena Eventing (JWS) and fifth in the 95cm show jumping.
Annabelle Gray swept the board in the 85cm show jumping to take individual first place on her pony Hawkmoon Lady Luck and Lucy Dods rode a thrilling round in the 75cm show jumping on Clonkeen Princess to take second individual place.
The team was sponsored by Penny Petroleum, the school’s BOOST programme, Jobsons of Alnwick and Stephen Willcox Ltd, and is trained by Morag Herdman of Edlingham, who offers a lots of advice on the riding and walking of courses.
As well as the Duchess’s School’s success, Millie Herdman, representing Whittingham Primary School on her pony Fudge, claimed an individual national second in her Arena Eventing (JWS) class.
Will Hardy’s mum Ingrid said: “It’s been a massive effort to get sponsors for the hat silks, skins, jackets etc. and to qualify for championships – it takes all year. It’s absolutely remarkable that an outlying rural school should win a National first.”
Team co-ordinators are prepared to help good young riders who are keen to be involved, but don’t have their own horse. Ingrid added: “There are loan ponies out there – maybe a pony that their rider has outgrown, but which the owners don’t want to sell. There’s a lot of camaraderie amongst equestrians locally. We are really getting out there and making things happen with this team.”