School holds first show jumping competition

The Royal Alexandra and Albert School is no ordinary state school. For a start, it has over 430 boarders amongst its 970 pupils. And it has an Equestrian Centre. But this is no ordinary Equestrian Centre. It is an Equestrian Centre that now holds British Show Jumping Association show jumping competitions.

The School held its first Show Jumping event on Sunday 30th March with external riders competing against pupils to achieve rankings in the four jumping classes.

On Saturday pupils prepared their horses for the competition: washing, grooming and plaiting. The School has 20 horses that had been brought in to the new 20-stable American barn-style stable block, from the fields around the 260 acre estate. Around half the horses were being used by pupils in the various classes. External competitors arrived with their horse boxes and made their way down to the indoor riding school which was being used as the warm-up ring for the event.

As their competition time drew closer, riders trotted out of the indoor school, made their way past the stable block and waited their turn in the area outside the arena.

The first event was the Clear Round. Riders and horses of all abilities tried their luck on the 60cm course and those with a clear round were awarded a rosette. This was an excellent time for novice show jumpers to try out the new course and for experienced show jumpers to get a feel for the jumps.

The serious competition started at 10.15am. The 60cm Class was the first Class and had thirteen competitors of all ages. 11 year old Lester Baylie won the Class riding Achilles. Lester has been a pupil at the Royal Alexandra and Albert School since 2010 and Achilles is one of the School’s horses. Lester then went on to win the next Class: the 70cm. Lester, who has been riding since he was very young said “I went into the competition to get a clear round, not to win, but I am really proud and happy that I did win.” He added “My Mum said it made her Mother’s Day!"

The third Class had more experienced riders as it was higher still, at 75cm. This time Elley Crittenden, a Sixth Former at the Royal Alexandra and Albert School won the Class. She then won the 80cm round which was the last of the day. This made it a clean sweep for pupils of the school! Elley, who is studying for a BTEC in Horse Management alongside her A Levels in English and History, joined the school as a boarder in 2012.

The winners received a saddle cloth and a rosette and there were rosettes for riders who came 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th in each Class.

Stable Manager Irini Economou said “A tremendous amount of work went in to preparing for this event. We had to build the jumps, prepare the indoor and outdoor riding schools, organise catering, signage, parking, prizes plus many other behind-the-scenes activities. It was all worthwhile as the whole day was a success not only for our own pupils, but for visiting riders. We opened this new venue so that our pupils could enjoy competing, and also so that other local riders could compete near to their home. The feedback I have received has been very positive and I am looking forward to the next show jumping event here on Sunday 8th June”.

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