Trio of talented riders are off to the nationals

THREE talented young Ripon Grammar School riders will compete in the finals of a prestigious national schools’ equestrian competition in May.

Izzy Gough, 16, Cassie Halliday, 15, and Thomas Ford, 13, will face top young riders from all over the country at the famous Hickstead Sussex showground.

Cassie Holliday, from Ripon, qualified for the 90cm Eventers Challenge at Northallerton Equestrian Centre in February, where she came fourth in her class.

Cassie, who started riding at six years old, will also represent North Yorkshire in show jumping in 100cm, following her first-place success against schools from across North, West and East Yorkshire at the National Schools’ Equestrian Association (NSEA) qualifiers.

It’s a dream come true for the teenager, who will be riding on her Connemara pony, Shanbo Dun: “When I was younger, I went to riding school every week and hoped one day I could own my own pony and compete like the professionals.”

Izzy, from Bishop Monkton, won her class at the Epworth Equestrian Centre qualifier in Lincolnshire to claim her place in the 90cm Eventers Challenge.

At the same competition, Thomas, from Kirkby Malzeard, qualified for the 70cm Eventers Challenge having finished 2nd in his class.

Izzy also recently competed for Ripon Grammar School at Northallerton Equestrian Centre in the NSEA one-day event, which involves dressage, show jumping and cross country.

It was her first one-day event on her new horse, Silver Spur, and she won her class, qualifying for the championships being held in September.

The aspiring architect started riding at the age of four, inspired by her mother who also rides.

Her ambition is to be selected for the U18 North equestrian team next year: "I am currently trying to make the most of my horse riding before going to university." 

Thomas, a keen rugby player, explained how he followed his older sister into horse riding and got his first horse on loan when he was five years old. He enjoys riding several times a week on his pony, Leo: "My favourite part is just hacking out and enjoying Leo’s company," he said.

*The Eventers Challenge, County Showjumping and County Dressage Championships will be held Friday May 26-29.

Photos from top: Izzy, Cassie and Thomas