Portman dazzle in Pony Club Championship

Out of 21 Branches of the Pony Club that competed at Hickstead today, the Portman Hunt Branch came out on top. 

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The Portman Hunt Branch took team honours in the Pony Club competition for the first time ever today at the Hurstpierpoint College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships.

The Championship sees branches from around the country qualifying to compete at the All England Jumping Course, Hickstead. The teams of four first jump in the outer rings before the top eight compete in the famous International Arena, with the best three scores counting.

The Portman Hunt team only had three riders come forward to the final, with fourth rider Flora Hall going out of the competition during the qualifying rounds. In the first round of the Championship, clear rounds from Francesca Grazebrook (Mr De II) and Archie Lowe (I’m Blusing), and just four faults by Luz Wollocombe (Suttons Cross) meant they finished on four faults to tie with Burghley Pony Club. However, a jump-off between nominated riders from both Branches saw the Portman finish on top.

Luz is another keen event rider, and competes up to Novice level. “It’s so nice to ride here at Hickstead – and that’s definitely helped by the fact we won!” said the 15-year-old rider.

Francesca, 15, who jumped-off to seal the team’s win, concentrates on showjumping. Her win today came on her new ride ‘Troy’, who she’s only had for three weeks. “It’s a thrill even to compete here – we didn’t dare dream about winning!” she exclaimed.

Their team mate Archie also events up to Intermediate level. He has competed here at Hickstead, but never progressed as far in the competition before. “I’ve never ridden in the main arena here – it’s huge, but so cool,” he said.

Taking individual honours for the Lord Leconfield Branch of the Pony Club was 15-year-old Ellie Barnwell. She is the daughter of Donal Barnwell, co-founder of the Billy Stud with William and Pippa Funnell. Her mare Billy Crisp was both homebred and home-produced, something the family is really proud of.

“She's a chestnut mare and she’s quite small so she didn’t get sold!” joked Ellie about her eight-year-old mare. “She’s coming into her own now as we move up the levels and she’s now competing in Foxhunters and we just did the Children on Horses Grand Prix here at the Longines Royal International Horse Show. It’s such an honour to compete here and follow in the footsteps of so many top riders.”

One such top rider is of course Hickstead Derby William Funnell, who was watching the action on the livestream on Hickstead.tv with Ellie’s father Donal.

For full results click here.

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