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The 2017 Berkeley Group Pony Club Championships

Acting as the first championship level event for some riders, and the pinnacle of achievement for others, the event showcases an incredible array of up and coming talent across five action-packed days.

Sports included the Olympic disciplines of Show Jumping, Dressage and NFU Mutual Eventing as well as Just Chaps Mounted Games and Polocrosse. The event, now in its sixth year at the venue, also incorporated the competitions for Howden Centre Equitation, the Crafty Ponies Musical Ride and Blue Cross Horse and Pony Care.

Spirits were not dampened by the unseasonal weather, with the electric atmosphere and stunning surroundings being enjoyed by around 2,000 competitors and their army of supporters across the week.

There was plenty of skill on show in the Open Dressage Championships, but taking the win for the second consecutive year was Maddi Briggs (18) who scored 72.35% riding Real Dancer for the Garth South Branch.

Maddi was ‘over the moon’ to be on top of the podium again, as she felt that the standard was much higher this year than previously. Maddi isn’t sure whether she’ll be back to try for the hat trick as she is going to University, but she thanked her parents for all their help and support as well as Real Dancer’s owner Juliet Donald and her Coach Shelley Moores.

Always a crowd pleaser, the Freestyle Dressage to Music, supported by the Worshipful Company of Loriners, once again delivered some superb performances.

The winning Novice rider was Burghley’s Tabitha Leicester (12) who performed a beautiful test riding Brendon, scoring 71.65%. Tabitha returned to the podium after winning the Pairs competition alongside Cecily Hopkins (13) and Landis Black Pepper.

South Hertfordshire’s Katie Branley (19, pictured), took the Elite Dressage win riding Buntino to a score of 70.44%. Katie said her unexpected win felt ‘amazing’ and she was pleased to have increased her mark by 6% on last year, when she came 10th. Katie said that eight-year-old Buntino, who she has had for four years, felt a lot more relaxed in the Championship atmosphere this time around.

Katie was back on top of the podium following her Open Dressage to Music victory with a personal best score of 87.68%. Katie didn’t imagine making it to the podium at all, so to visit twice and in first position both times was a huge surprise. She described Buntino as ‘incredible’ and was ‘thrilled’ to get such good marks. 

The Polocrosse pitch saw action-packed play and some spectacular displays of skill on show. The North Warwickshire Branch were notably strong, winning The Malden Championships Trophy (for the team that finishes highest in both the Open Seniors and Open Juniors), the Charles Mason Open Seniors and the Stoneleigh Open Juniors.

The Just Chaps Senior Mounted Games Championships saw a closely fought final, with teams working hard to take one of two highly coveted spots available in the Prince Philip Cup competition at Horse of the Year Show.

Heading to the NEC, Birmingham, this October will be Banwen & District and North Herefordshire who pulled out all the stops to finish on 40 and 41 respectively.

Banwen & District

• Izzy Lynch (15)
• Sophie Scully (15)
• Lowri Jones (12)
• Mackenzie Norton-Phibben (11)
• Cerys Bowden (13)

North Herefordshire

• Charlotte Wilson (14)
• Georgia Barrett (14)
• Otty Thomas (13)
• Sophie Beach (13)
• Jen Arnold (11)
• Lucy Lightwood (11)

The spectacular Crafty Ponies Musical Ride never fails to entertain onlookers, and this year was no exception; with our 15 teams producing some thrilling, beautifully choreographed rides wearing elaborate costumes with themes ranging from The Circus to Day of the Dead.

For the third year running the win went to the East Cheshire Branch who wowed the judges with their Bugsy Malone routine to score 89%.

East Cheshire

• Ciara McLellan (17)
• Louise Worthington (20)
• Maisie Brown (12)
• Abi Davies (13)
• Ellie Tomkinson (14)
• Tamsin Ellison (14)
• Grace Antony (9)
• Phoebe Southern (10)
• Sofia Stubbs (10)
• Dan Agnew (11)
• Alice Agnew (13)
• Hollie Morrell Tickle (7)

The Naburn Grange Riding Centre team of Jessica Flint (12), Victoria Moffat (12), Emily Roberts (18) and Beth Suckling (13) took the win in the Howden Centre Equitation competition, finishing on 234.33 points.

The team, who had worked hard on perfecting their transitions during flatwork training, said they were ‘very happy.’ Three of them had never been to The Pony Club Championships before, and all thought the event was bigger than expected with ‘so much going on.’ They would all like to come back again next year. Naburn Grange Proprietor Bryony Horn was really proud of the team, and kept the result a secret so they would have a surprise at prize giving. 

The Senior Blue Cross Horse and Pony Care sessions were highly competitive; with teams giving it their all to take home the beautiful Lucinda Darling Memorial Shield. Winners were Alicia Lee (22), Sophie Oakland (19) and Eleanor Hubbard (14) from the Old Berkshire Hunt Branch with 477.0. They dedicated their victory to their ‘wonderful’ trainer Fiona Jack, saying the win, which was her first as trainer at Senior level, ‘was for her.’

Hampshire Hunt came second with 470.5 points and the Chipping Branch, based in Lancashire, came third with 466.5 points. Chipping won the Junior title in 2010, and the Senior title 2012-2016.



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