Newbridge College Equestrian Teams had fantastic success at the Hurstpeirpoint International Inter schools Championships held in Hickstead this week. The club had 12 riders representing the school.
Leah Heffernan, Sophie Carroll and Leah Ross
Senior: Amy Carroll, Caoimhe Sweeney, Emily O'Brien,
Sarah Behan, Alanna Kelly, Conor Cassidy
Caragh Sweeney, Daniel Fitzgerald, Rachel Ross.
Training and selection took place for the full summer with riders postponing holidays and forgoing the Gaelteacht this year. With 12 riders picked, ponies had a 14 hour journey to Hickstead on Tuesday morning. The riders had a light hack around tuesday and headed to Brighton to enjoy the evening before the main events began the next day. Wednesday held all the clear round jumping to get the ponies used to the ground and the riders familiar with the showgbrounds.
On Thursday all riders had to ride in qualifying rounds and a jump off to eventually ride in the main Hickstead Arena. It is the ambition of all our students to ride under the Longines Arch into the historic grassed arena and very difficult to achieve. This year the Junior team of Leah Heffernan, Sophie Carroll and Leah Ross made it through the qualifying round to have their opportunity to show what they could achieve in the main arena. After some superb riding by all team mates they took 2nd place This is a fantastic achievement for these young riders and they have memories they will cherish forever, receiving the red Hickstead Rugs and joining the parade of finalists. Leah Heffernan then went on to come 4th in the Individual competition.
By the time the juniors had put away their ponies the senior competition was taking place in another large sand arena. Newbridge had 3 teams and 12 riders in this competition. Unlike the Irish system, teams in the UK consist of 3 riders with no discard score allowed. The team of Caragh Sweeney, Daniel Fitzgerald and Rachel Ross were under a lot of pressure with over 60 teams competing but after a nail biting jump off also made it through qualification stages to ride in the main arena. All the other riders had a super competition with Sarah Behan and Alanna Kelly both having clears. Amid great excitement and cheering the senior team of Caragh, Daniel and Rachel took their turns to ride under the Longines Archway with Daniel riding first. Nerves were frayed and silence fell as the three rode to fantastic cheering as they jumped the last fences. We were being supported by the two other Irish Schools who had attended but unfortunately did not get through qualifications Carnew and Athenry. Carnew produced the Irish flag when the results were announced that Newbridge had again taken 2nd place. Not to be outdone by the Juniors, Daniel then went on to take 4th in the Individuals.
Such a proud day for the school. Competing in an international competition with over 60 schools and to come 2nd is quite an achievement. All the hard work, discipline and extra training that had gone into the summer had paid off. All of the students were a credit to themselves, their parents and the school in how they rode and conducted themselves as they paraded proudly with the Irish Flag. This was our Olympics and we came home in the medals.
A big thank you to Pat O'Brien, and Neville Conroy who have supported and encouraged the equestrian programme in the school, and to the fantastic team of Yvonne, Chris, (Chef d'Equipes) Jackie (Treasurer & Photographer), Gail (Training Co-ordinator) and Liam (Our own Mcgyver) who worked tirelessly to put this Hickstead trip in place and all the other parents who made Hickstead basecamp a fantastic and funny place to be for the past few days.