Great Britain are World Champions!! But that’s getting a bit ahead of ourselves…!
The day after Boxing Day the three-man British team, which was made up of Lauren Innes, Lottie Kennedy and Jess Campbell (myself), along with individual rider Steph Gunn, flew out to Palm Beach in Florida for the Student Riders’ World Finals.
As well as having fabulous support from our individual universities, we had been incredibly lucky to have the backing of the British Equestrian Federation (it was like Christmas came early when we picked up our GB team kit at Olympia!!) so we were feeling very professional at the airport.
We ended up taking a slightly indirect route to Florida, via Toronto! Toronto Airport were incredibly thorough with their security; I’m not sure if we were looking particularly suspicious…
It was a total of 18 hours travelling, with a five hour time difference, so by the time we landed it was dark. Even at night the heat that hit us as we left the airport was a shock to the system having left London in grey drizzle. We couldn’t wait to see Florida in the morning!
We were shuttled to the competition venue bright and early the next morning but it was already over 25 degrees. The venue was amazing; palm trees everywhere and more huge, beautiful arenas than you could count. Fortunately our arena was covered so all our riding was in the shade – though still ridiculously hot.
The horses were lovely but not the most straight-forward on the flat. As a result of some great results in the lead-up competitions in Europe, the British team were in the Gold League and first drawn against the Irish and the Germans (who we were determined to beat after narrowly losing to them in the European Champs in Osnabruck in October!). A formidable draw…
We were pleased with our first test: no major errors and managing to keep it quite smart together. We were right to be pleased, with us all finishing in the top 7 after the second round.
After the dressage we raced back to the hotel to prep ourselves for the fancy dress party. See below!
Showjumping Day (New Years Eve)
Showjumping day started much earlier than we felt it should!!
The horses seemed much more at home show jumping. We all had good rounds but, in the true spirit of this competition, we could do nothing more than know that we had done our best and wait for the final scores to be announced….
The Gala Night coincided with New Years Eve, which was made for an excellent evening! To top it off, the results were announced and Lauren had made it through to the dressage final.
Finals day started with the Gold league dressage. It was a GB-Irish final. For the Prix St George test Lauren and Irish rider Brian Morrison rode a very hot chestnut pony. The main challenge was to keep her from boiling over. For the free style they rode a really smart stallion and Lauren produced a beautiful test so we all had our fingers crossed!
At the prize giving we knew it would be close: between us and the Irish team; it was a seriously anxious wait!
First was the individual placings and we had won team gold in the Dressage with Lauren taking the individual silver but the Irish won the Showjumping so we still couldn’t guess the overall standings.
When it was announced that we had won the Gold we couldn’t quite believe it!! It topped off an absolutely incredible week of competition (as well as sunshine and the amazing company) perfectly.
To cap it all, we were also declared the winners of the President’s Cup for heading the year’s rankings. A perfect end to a fantastic year for Team GB Student Riders.
The whole team would like to say a massive thank you again to our sponsors, The Royal Veterinary College (Jess), Birmingham University (Lottie) and Harper Adams University (Steph) as well as the British Equestrian Federation for their enthusiastic support.