The weather was scorching and the competition was even hotter at Hickstead today at the Hurstpierpoint College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships. More than 300 riders from 70 schools and 20 branches of the Pony Club took part in the Championships, with teams coming from as far afield as Scotland, Ireland and the West Country.
It was a closely-fought competition but in the end the Senior Schools Individual Championship went to Millie Singleton, a pupil from Hurstpierpoint College. Millie, from Washington near Pulborough, put in a superlative performance to beat nearly 150 other riders to the title.
“I’ve been competing at Hickstead in the international shows for the past four years, and to win in the main arena is very special,” said Millie, who rode at the British Jumping Derby Meeting and the Longines Royal International Horse Show in 1.25m, 1.35m and Foxhunter classes.
Her win today came on board the 10-year-old gelding O’Breche De Laurvale. “He’s still in Grade C and relatively inexperienced, but he has the heart of a lion. I got him last summer and started competing at 1m level, and we quickly progressed up to Foxhunter level. He also did the Junior European Trials,” she explained.
Millie has completed her A levels, and plans to take a gap year to work on a yard, bringing on young horses.
The team competition was won by Wellington College, who last won this title back in 1992. They ended up in a jump-off with Akeley Wood and Stonar School, but netted the fastest time to take the win.
For team captain Hannah Mathea, making her debut at Hickstead, it was a brilliant experience. “To ride in the main ring is amazing, especially as all the top riders compete here,” she said.
She was joined by Izzy Calcert on Riley, who is formerly a driving pony, and Miles O’Donnell and Solero, who were placed here at the Longines Royal International Horse Show earlier this month in the JC Final. Miles also took third place in the senior schools individual title.
In the Junior Schools section, the winning team was the St Leonards Mayfield Red Team, which finished on a total team score of just four faults. Phoebe Toyne Bridges (Back to Black), Milly Bresnahan (Attymac) and Ellie Walker (Mushroom) represented the winning team.
The individual junior schools winner was Katinka Brogaard from Godolphin School Red Team. She rode Sprite II to an impeccable double clear to see off her rivals. “I was nervous beforehand and I thought I’d gone pretty slow in the jump-off, but obviously I didn’t!” she said.
The Iveagh Branch of the Pony Club from County Down has a brilliant record at these championships, with four team titles and three individual titles to their name. Aoife Dooley has now made it four individual wins for the branch, scoring today on the team trainer Michael McCann’s mare Audrey. It took the team 14 hours to travel to Hickstead for the competition.
The Warwickshire Hunt Branch claimed the Pony Club title for the first time, with Harriet Dicking (Susie Bell), Ellie Sagrott (Attorney General), Francesca Sargent (Bellvue Royal Prince) and Jess Beards (Ruby Toosday) finishing on four faults.
“This outstanding event was a shining example of what young people can achieve through hard work and a dose of determination,” said Richard Taylor-West, Deputy Head of Hurstpierpoint College. “The standard is quite extraordinarily high and yet the entire competition is conducted in the friendliest of spirits. Every one of those youngsters was a credit to their respective schools and communities, and they clearly all had a wonderful time.”