Never mind the 2012 London Olympics, Britain’s Young Drivers have won Team Gold - plus a haul of 13 individual medals, including four Golds - in a scintillating World Driving Trials Championship.
The International Collective for Kids Driving (ICKD) Junior World Trophy was held alongside the FEI European Youth Championships at Wiener Neustadt in Austria; in the former, the eight team members (best three scores to count) and two individuals competed in four age groups: 9 – 11 years (Class 1), 12 – 13 years (Class 2), 14 – 15 years (Class 3) and 16 – 18 years (Class 4).
In Class 1 Isobel Wesbroom-Warr and her pony Chelsea Bun won three individual medals; after finishing fifth in the Dressage, Isobel went on to take Gold in the Derby (timed cones and obstacles phase), Silver for the Cones and overall Bronze.
Her team-mate Cerys Gilbert and Maesowen Pepper finished fifth overall while Megan Wheeldon, who was competing as an individual, cemented her new partnership with Catheal Gwendolyn when finishing seventh overall. Megan just missed out on an individual Bronze in Dressage, coming fourth.
Grace Smith was the sole GB representative in Class 2. Driving Branstone Pickle, Grace took home four individual medals; Bronze in Dressage plus a Silver medal for each of the Derby and Cones phases and Bronze overall.
Class 3 had a nail-biting finish with Tara Wilkinson and Jasper winning overall Gold by just 0.74 penalties from Belgian driver Alexandre Trenker. Tara lay fourth after Dressage and then drove superbly to take Silver in the Derby. The Cones phase was a tense affair with Tara incurring 4.74 penalties but the Belgian’s 1.13 time penalties in this phase gave victory to the Brit.
Finishing in overall fourth place was Nadia Hughes and Anderwood Pirate while Jay Snow, who was driving his sister Fleur’s Teapot as an individual, won a Gold Medal in the Dressage phase on 46.83 before finishing in overall seventh place.
Overall Gold and Silver Medals in Class 4 were decided by just 0.02 penalties but thankfully both drivers were British as Fleur Snow and the ever reliable Teapot pipped team-mate Ann Broadhurst with Kam Kiwi by the narrowest of margins. Fleur and Teapot took individual Gold in the Dressage on 46.13 with Ann close behind, taking Silver on 50.45. In the Derby phase it was nip and tuck again although Stephanie Milner and Josh took Gold here with Fleur winning Silver and Ann taking Bronze – a one-two-three on the podium.
In the Cones phase Stephanie incurred 6.75 penalties to leave her in fifth place overall; Ann and Kam Kiwi produced a double clear, and a Silver medal, to put the pressure on Fleur who scraped home with 5.47 penalties to hang on to her individual Gold.
The FEI European Youth Championships saw four drivers competing as individuals in the Young Driver (16 – 21 years) class. Rosanna Walters-Symons, driving Dabernon Tiger Woods, lay third after Dressage and was also third in the Marathon. After a Cones phase where she had one ball down and 0.48 time penalties for seventh place, Rosanna completed to take home a Bronze medal.
Joining Rosanna in her class were James Gamb, who finished seventh overall after producing one of only four double clears in the Cones, Amber O’Neill (14th) and Emily Ham. Emily suffered the misfortune to be eliminated in the Marathon but came back to produce a spirited Cones round for ninth place in the final phase.
All the youngsters had to self-fund their trip to Austria as driving trials is a non-Olympic sport. They are therefore extremely grateful to their sponsors: Baileys Horse Feeds, NAF (natural equine supplements), Classic Dressage Collections Ltd and Horse Quencher for their support and to Joint Chefs d’Equipe, Sara Howe and Zoe Morgan. Sara is also Joint Team Trainer with fellow UKcc Level 3 coach, Sara-Jane Williams.
For more information and results visit: www.horsedrivingtrials.co.uk or http://www.hippoevent.at/PDF/CA/2012/euro/resultABC1.pdf.