Cranleigh riders contested both the Junior and Senior Divisions of the National Schools Summer Show Jumping Championships at the All England Show Ground, Hickstead last week, competing against schools from around England and Ireland for the chance to follow in the hoof prints of their equestrian heroes on the hallowed ground of the International Arena.
With teams consisting of just three riders there is no discard score in this competition and only the top ten teams from the first round make it through to the final in the International Arena. Our junior team of Ella Pilling; Freya Hough and Sam Hollidge finished the first round on a very good score of five faults but it was a tense wait to see whether the one time fault accrued by Sam would be a costly one! Fortunately other teams fell by the wayside over what was a clever course designed to penalise rider errors and our team ended the first round in 8th place to find themselves in the final for a second year running. Ella was the first of our riders to go and achieved the first clear round of the morning over the big, long and testing course that gave them the full experience of the size of the arena as they rode under the shadow of the famous Derby Bank! Freya followed and achieved another fine round, incurring just four faults. Sam was not quite so lucky on this occasion but the team finished in a very creditable 9th position in this national competition.
Ella, by virtue of her two clear rounds, found herself riding once more through the iconic Hickstead archway to contest the individual jump-off. As the first to go she had to ride for a clear round, achieving her third of the day and throwing down the gauntlet for the other six riders who had reached this last stage of the competition. She was not quite quick enough for a podium spot but ended the day in fifth place, by far our best individual placing at Hickstead for some years.
Our Senior team of Charlotte Livingstone, Caileigh Faure and Henrietta Walker-Duncalf produced a flurry of excitement after all three riders produced went clear in the first round. Most years this would have been more than enough to guarantee a place in the final but when 14 of the 53 teams to start the competition finished on clear they decided we had to jump off for the ten places available in the final! In a huge anti-climax on a very hot afternoon we were one of the four teams go out after a brave attempt by Henrietta to chase the fast times which had been posted ahead of her. There will be a next year for Charlotte and Caileigh, however, and they are determined to make it happen! Such a shame for them on this occasion, however.