Returning from the NSEA National Championships with two National titles, three Reserve Champion titles and numerous top eight final placings is something that the Equestrian team can be rightly proud of.
It was especially pleasing for our Captains of Riding, Issy H. and Tom S. to end their Championship careers on such a high. Issy has competed at no less than 11 National Championships since her first campaign in Form 1 of Cranleigh Prep School: Tom joined CPS in the Fifth Form and has competed every year since then. Over the years there have been highs and lows, tears as well as cheers, but through it all both of them have been excellent team members and role models, no more so than in their final two years as Captains.
It was a long five days at this year’s Championships, with rain deciding to make a comeback at just the wrong time! We had to wait until day three to find ourselves in the line-up but it was worth the wait as the Advanced Open Show Jumping team stood as Reserve Champions on the silver medal step. Spirited riding from Issy, Tom, Tara M. and Megan T. made this happen, before Tara (Lower Fifth) showed us her potential for the years ahead by not only taking 8th spot in the Intermediate Arena Eventing but also ending the first round of the Advanced Open Show Jumping in top spot. This meant she went last in the eight-man jump off and with all to play for was storming home until the penultimate fence came out to bite her and she slid to 8th. However, as one of the younfield’s youngest riders, this an outstanding performance.
Sunday saw us win back the Open Arena Eventing title that we had last won in 2019. Our riders set out with a plan and rode sensible rounds to ensure good style but also most importantly the fences stayed in place and their times were within the optimum. It was really pleasing to see Issy, Tom, Tara and Madeleine R. on top of the podium for this prize giving. Issy’ round was good enough for an individual 6th place too. Indoors the Open Show Jumping was taking place and we were somewhat surprised, but also pleased, to discover we had made it into the jump-off for the top eight teams – in eighth – so we had to quickly rally the troops to go first in the jump off. Three faultless rounds meant we stayed on our first round score, whilst other teams were not so lucky, and we rose in the placings for a final fifth place for Tom, Issy, Tara and Megan. Almost immediately Issy and Tom headed back outside for the Advanced Open Arena Eventing, where Issy retained her National title from 2021 with a stylish round within the optimum time and Tom came home in fifth.
Monday was dressage day and we had qualified three teams and several individuals. Eventually just 0.8% separated us from a second National team title, but our Reserve Champions of Darcey Blaze, Lucy LM., Madeleine and Issy were all smiles at the end of a long five days and to also place with our second team in fifth was a great achievement. Individually, Darcey Blaze stood as Reserve Champion in the Prelim test, with Issy picking up another fifth place to add to her impressive haul of rosettes.
It is not all about the winning, however, and it was pleasing to see younger riders experiencing this Championship arena for the first time and gaining experience for the years ahead, most notably some gutsy performances from Yasmeen and Dalya AZ. and Rosie S. With other riders stepping up a level (Maisie Z.; Anya M.; Rory S.; Issy J.), We have a lot to look forward to and we will hopefully continue to build on our recent successes.