YOUNG horse riders from South Northants schools are celebrating after success in a national competition held in Gawcot near Buckingham.
Sponne School’s equestrian team came top in the Open Class at the national Schools Cross Country Championship at Primrosehill Farm, while the 11 and under team from Winchester House School in Brackley topped their category.
Sponne’s team of four students took the prestigious title after gaining maximum points for successfully jumping 24 cross country fences over the 1.5 mile course. In addition, 19 of the fences had bonus options, where there was a more difficult fence to be negotiated. All four equestrian team members rose to the challenge making Sponne the only team to gain a maximum bonus score.
Team manager Mrs Harmon congratulated team members Abi Salter, Tally Richardson, Felicity Aldridge Newman and Hannah Harmon and added: “We were very pleased with our squad, as our first member was the very first competitor in the Open Class, so a real trailblazer, and showed how it should be done.
“It was a nail-biting competition as the last team to go was eventually placed second in the competition, so it wasn’t until this last score was written on the scoreboard that we realised Sponne had won.”
Linda Yuill, Sponne’s sports co-ordinator said: “The competition has been running for some 25 years and has a very exclusive roll of honour, with mainly private schools taking part.
She added: “Sponne last took the title in 1993. During the last four years working as a team the girls and their horses have gone from strength to strength and thoroughly deserve their recent success.”
Nikki Atkinson, equestrian manager at Winchester said team members Freddie Barlow, Jack Steele, Olivia Marston and Poppy Pitt were tenacious and brave on a challenging course and added: “The thing I like about the kids is the great horsemanship. Horses are treated well and ridden properly, but the important things is both horse and rider enjoy themselves.”