RGS horse riders to compete in prestigious national finals

RIPON Grammar School’s talented young riders have made it to the national finals of a prestigious equestrian competition at Hickstead arena for the second year running.

Three teams of students from across all year groups competed in the challenging qualifying round of the National School Equestrian Association Championships.

Siblings Sophie and Izzy Bean, aged 12 and 15, from Lower Dunsforth, and Imogen and George White, 12 and 14, from Ampleforth, along with Izzy Kirby, 14, from Richmond, have all made it to the finals, which will be held at the famous Hickstead Sussex showground on May 23-25.

One of a small number of state schools taking part, RGS beat high-performing teams from independent schools throughout the North at the qualifying event, held at the Northallerton Equestrian Centre.

Now the students will face teams from all over the country, including Millfield School and Marlborough College, in the finals.

RGS art teacher and keen horse rider Fiona Henson, who helps organise the team, commented: “It is a great achievement to make it to Hickstead for the second year in a row. It was a difficult course and a hugely tough competition and we are very proud of them all.”

The other RGS riders taking part were 13-year-olds Lucie Brown from Ripon and Izzy Gough from Bishop Monkton. Scarlett Eyles, 14, from Northallerton, Freya Mosely, 14, from Thirsk, and Eddie Henson, 17, from Winksley, also came fourth in the NSEA dressage county qualifying round.

Last year, the school’s team came an impressive ninth in the finals out of around 100 competitors and now Mrs Henson is hoping that experience will give them the confidence to do even better this year.

“Getting to Hickstead has really spurred them all on. Their performance last year was awesome,” she said.

At the qualifying event, the RGS 80cm fence-height class team came in first place, with students Izzy Gough and Sophie Bean placed joint third individually out of 56 competitors, with perfect scores.

Riders had to be particularly skilful, with the aim being to complete the course closest to an optimum assigned time, rather than be the fastest round.

In the 70cm fence-height qualifying round, Sophie Bean came in second place, in addition to qualifying for the individual event with Immie White coming in fourth.

Both had perfect scores in the timed arena eventing challenge, with no penalties, helping their team – which included Izzy Kirby, from Richmond, who came in 28th place out of 47 competitors – come in second place overall.

In the 90cm class, the RGS team came in third place, so just missed out on a place at Hickstead.

Photo above: (l-r) George White, Imogen White, Izzy Kirby, Lucy Brown and Izzy Gough. Dressage riders Eddie Hanson and Scarlett Eyles pictured below