A record 90 Pony Club competitors entered today’s Championships competed over four distances at Euston Park, Suffolk today. The competition formed day one of the The HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum UK Endurance Festival which will run until Monday 19 August and includes the Meydan FEI European Endurance Championship, a full day of international rides including a Nations Cup and a final day of National Rides.
The budding young Endurance riders were able to compete across many of the same tracks and utilise many of the same facilities as the senior riders will do over the coming days. Including international standard stabling, cooling area, and veterinary lanes, all staffed by FEI level vets.
The distances ranged from a 54Km Pony Club Open Championship, competed over two loops, and a 40km Intermediate Championship, a 32Km Novice Championship and a 20Km Foundation Grassroots Championship.
The winner of the Open Championship was Bedale Pony Club’s, Caitlin Birkitt (21). Birkitt, from Selby North Yorkshire was competing at Euston Park for the first time. Her win is all the more remarkable because she is a para-rider, who lost the use of her foot in 2018. She is currently at university in Leeds studying physiotherapy.
She said: “This has been such a brilliant event to be at and an exceptional place to ride. It’s amazing to be part of such a close team. The pony (Mistletoe) gave me such a good ride and went like a dream. I wasn’t feeling very well after the first Vet Gate and the pony looked after me. In fact, the car broke down on the way here so I didn’t think this was going to be a very lucky event, but look how it turned out!”
Clare Valori, Vice Chairman Pony Club, was on hand to make the individual and team presentations. She said: “What a fantastic opportunity for Pony Club members to get to compete at a venue like Euston Park, and as part of a Championships. It feels so special and they have had the best day out there on the course today.”
Pony Club Endurance Chairman, Robert Blane, was equally as positive: “It’s a huge privilege to host the Championships here (at Euston Park) the going is phenomenal, and we have doubled the number of competitors from last year. It has had a tremendous effect on participation, with many of our youngsters now doing EGB rides and having international aspirations. The atmosphere here is very special, the riders love being part of a big international competition and the locals all want to stable here to soak up the atmosphere.”
Prizes were also awarded for best turned out ponies and there was a special award from the Worshipful Company of Farriers presented by Johnny Peacock to Gracie Flin for her best shod pony, Brookfield Hugo.
A full list of prizes will be made available on this site shortly.