A fabulous weekend of competition took place on Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 May at our first live event of 2021, the BRC HorseQuest Arena Eventing Championships. Aston-le-Walls Equestrian Centre in Northamptonshire were once again our hosts for the weekend, with great facilities to run both the show jumping and cross-country phases on their large all-weather surfaces, which included testing water, steps and log fences.
Over 520 junior and senior riders competing in teams and as individuals came from all over the UK, to contest a range of exciting Championship Arena Eventing courses, from 70-100cm. The final Joker show jump fence (set 10cm higher than the rest of the course), proved extremely influential throughout the weekend, frequently influencing the scores and determining the ultimate winners.
“We were delighted to be able to run this event as our first championship for 2021. After dusting off the cobwebs we all settled back into running the event like we had never been away, and it was great to see many familiar faces.
All of our incredible volunteers did an amazing job throughout the weekend and we cannot thank them enough. We are very much looking forward to the rest of the championships this year.” Jennie Pallett, BRC Competitions Manager.
“HorseQuest are delighted to have supported the BRC Arena Eventing Championships for another year in 2021. We’d like to say well done and congratulations to all those who competed last weekend and a big thanks to the BRC team and wonderful volunteers for making it possible, especially after such a challenging year and despite the weather! Roll on 2022!” said Beth Sonley, Manager at HorseQuest.
The weekend opened with the BRC HorseQuest Arena Eventing Mixed 70 Championship class, which is open to both junior and senior riders. The team event was won by Bay RC in Area 2, who were just 0.4 penalties ahead of Penistone Potatoes, with a team score of 7.2. The overall individual winner and highest placed Junior in the 70cm was Keira Leeson riding Custer Lad from Beccles & Bungay RC in Area 14, finishing on a zero penalty score, closest to the optimum time.
Keira Leeson, overall individual 70 winner: “We have 12 horses at home as both my parents and my two sisters ride as well. Any of us ride Charlie as he’s so easy to do and he’ll do anything. We needed someone to fill in at the qualifier so I took Charlie and we ended up winning the team and individual events. The rest of the team dropped out ahead of the Championships so I nearly didn’t bring him, but I was doing the 80 with my other horse so thought we might as well and I’m so glad we did. Charlie’s rhythmical, powerful and bold and I could tell when we were warming up that he was up for it. The course flowed nicely, and he took it all in his stride, I wanted to have fun and we definitely did.”
The Senior 80 Team Championship was won by Saffron Walden & District RC from Area 8, on a team score of 9.2 penalties. With their team member Suzannah Engelmann riding Joker lifting the overall individual 80 title, on a zero score.
“Joker doesn’t like rules and likes to do things his own way. He requires a certain amount of tact to ride and I have to let Joker think everything was his idea in order to get the best out of him. He’s usually jumped in a hackamore because he doesn’t really like bits and when bitted tends to argue rather than focus on the fences, which can get a bit hairy! Although we’ve been together for nearly 10 years we are still trying to work each other out.
I’m totally over the moon that Joker has finally had a big win as he is usually overlooked for not being terribly consistent. He has plenty of ability but lacks focus which makes life very interesting and keeps me on my toes. I’m so chuffed that my perseverance with him has finally paid off.”
The Junior 80 Team Championship was won by Solihull RC from Area 5, with 17.2 penalties. With the overall individual honours going to Isobel Hinde riding Craughwell Lucy from Tendring Hundred RC in Area 8, who finished on a zero score.
Wey Valley RC from Area 11 became this year’s Senior 90 Team Arena Eventing Champions, with a team score of 7.2 penalties. The overall individual title went to Sarah Langley riding Edelman, from Cheltenham & District RC in Area 18, on a zero score.
The Junior 90 Team Championship was won by Three Counties RC from Area 13, with a score of 10.4 penalties. Lilly Waites riding Orions Artful Dodger from Worlington RC in Area 14 clinched the overall individual title, with 0.8 penalties.
Area 5 Riding Clubs enjoyed a very successful weekend with the Mixed 100 team title awarded to CROWN RC, on a score of 14.8. The overall individual winner for the final class of the weekend was Charlotte White riding Sienna II from Abinger Forest RC in Area 11, also finishing on a zero score.
“Charlotte White, individual 100 winner: “I had to double check the results as I couldn’t believe we’d won. We’ve been together for 10 years and we’ve often done well but we’ve never quite won. She’s a quirky mare and has certainly tested the waters over the years but she has a heart of gold and I’m so pleased.”
Special thanks go as always to our invaluable BRC volunteers who worked tirelessly over the weekend braving the wet, windy (and sometimes sunny!) conditions, ensuring that this event complied with all current Covid guidelines. And a big thank you also goes to Nigel Taylor and his team at Aston-le-Walls, helping to make this a great start to the 2021 BRC Championship season.