Equestrian success for A Level student Lily

A UCS Sixth Former has scored a double distinction in the world of equestrian sport. A Level student Lily achieved a childhood dream when she participated with her horse Phoenix – show name ‘Woodfield Gold’ – in the famous Badminton Horse Trials at the start of May.

She then represented UCS and London at the NSEA County Dressage Finals at Hickstead during May half-term and came third in her event. These exploits are all the more impressive for the fact Lily has successfully juggled the competing demands of public exam preparations and high-level sport. This is her account of a hugely memorable month.

“I competed with Phoenix at the ‘Voltaire Design Grassroots Championships’ in the first week of May. After hoping for many years that I would qualify – it was one of my dreams since I was young – I finally got through regional events in 2021 at Rackham and Chilham Castle to be eligible for the national qualifier at Chillington Hall (September 2022) as well as the Frickley Park Horse Trials (August 2022). Indeed, it was at Frickley Park that I secured qualification for the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire, which are sponsored by Voltaire Design.

“I spent the whole of winter 2022–23 training, right through mocks and exams, until April. Come the main event in May, I started strongly with a 30.9 score in the dressage phase, followed by a lovely show jumping round and a clear cross country ride within the allotted time. My performance put me 27th in a large class of about 150 starters. I had never competed in such an atmosphere before; it was quite nerve-racking having about 100,000 spectators watching you! However, we managed to get through the week with no issues, an achievement of which I was unbelievably proud.

“Then, on 27th May, Phoenix and I competed at the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead in the National Schools Equestrian Association County Dressage Finals. Representing both UCS and London, I came third in the novice individual dressage final, which was a great achievement.

“I had qualified for this event at Parwood in February, being the top scorer in the whole London area. Only one rider per county is chosen for these championships, so being able to represent London was an amazing privilege. I was so grateful. We registered a score of 70.63, allowing us to break through that sub-30 barrier in a tricky test – again, something I was very proud of. With this event coming right in the middle of my A Levels, it was fantastic to know we could still pull off such a level of performance amid the stress of exams and work. A great personal achievement!”

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