THREE of the Shoalhaven’s top riders are headed to the 2016 Australian Interschool Championships for equestrian, following strong seasons in the saddle.
Kangaroo Valley Public School’s Aria Baker and St Johns the Evangelist Catholic High School pair Charlotte Phillips and Zoe Hutchinson have all qualified for the NSW team to compete at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre event.
“The state team is selected on results from the state championships and from events throughout the last 12 months,” 11-year-old Baker said.
“I had a successful state championships so I have managed to qualify on both of my horses, Persuasion and Sanlirra Napoleon and will be competing in the show jumping, in the primary 80 and 90cm classes.
“This is my second time being part of the NSW team and in 2015 I competed in the primary 90cm class and placed in two classes and was part of the NSW Primary show jumping team that achieved reserve champion.
“The championships are extremely competitive so it’s just great to be a part of the team and I’m hoping to have some clear and consistent show jumping rounds and of course a few placings. This is the biggest event I have competed in and it is both exciting but also really scary.”
Phillips, 14, will compete in dressage at the championships with her purebred Arabian gelding, named Rose Gum Goldrush.
“Arabians are not really known for their amazing dressage skills, which makes my achievements even more special,” Phillips said.
“We had more than 80 competitors in my dressage tests at the state event, of which I obtained champion, so I think I will be in with a chance, as long as everything runs to plan.
“Making it to this competition rates quite highly and it's an extremely tough competition to do well at these events, as they are huge.
“To put it in perspective, there were more than 800 competitors there last year, and I obtained an overall sixth in Australia, which is pretty amazing when you think of it.”
St Johns’ colleague Hutchinson (14) has been luckily enough to represent NSW since 2014, in her discipline, eventing.
“Eventing includes the three disciplines of dressage, showjumping and cross country in the one event and earlier this year, I competed in the EFA 95cm class on new horse, Valinco aka Sunny, and pulled it all together on the day to finish first,” Hutchinson said.
“I’m aiming to do my best at nationals against some of the best junior riders in Australia, so just being in the team is a huge personal achievement.”
The three athletes will compete in Sydney from Monday, September 26 to Friday, September 30.