The Elandlodge.com National Hunter Trial Championships - Event Report

The Elandlodge.com National Hunter Trial Championship Final 2021. After the pandemic forced the 2020 Final to be postponed, the 2021 was a bumper event featuring qualifiers from the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Run over two action packed days, and featuring almost 400 competitors, the atmosphere was lively, and this year’s competitors were challenged by a strong course featuring varied terrain and technical fences.

The National Final was held at Eland Lodge, located in the stunning Staffordshire countryside. Competitors travelled from all parts of the country, with some competitors travelling for far away locations including Cornwall, Scotland and Wales, however the perfect conditions and beautifully presented course made the effort well worth it.

Saturday, the first day of the competition, started with a beautiful sunrise over the Eland Lodge grounds, setting the tone for a glorious weekend of sport. With the preceding weeks seeing huge amounts of preparation from the Eland Lodge team, all that remained was to get the lovely volunteers in place – and we were ready for the first class!

 

 

John Coupland, Managing Director of Eland Lodge had this to say: “What a fabulous weekend! The National Hunter Trial Finals is probably my favourite event of the year, the combination of some great competition and meeting up with so many old friends gives the event a celebratory, family atmosphere. As I wander round the site pre and post competition and during the event itself whilst sitting in Control, I am catching up with scores of old friends some of whom have been making the trip to Eland for years. It’s a wonderful opportunity to find out how everyone’s doing, parents, kids, grandparents, the whole team including the horses.

It was a little sad we couldn’t enjoy a party or hold formal presentations due to our Covid protocols but the safety of everyone was our absolute top priority and with the infection numbers staying stubbornly high we felt the party was not worth the risk, and having gone round the lorry park a few times everyone seemed to be having a very nice time anyway. The glorious late summer weather was a huge positive making everything so much easier, we would normally be moving jumps overnight in the rain to give fresh ground but not this year, and camping in dry weather is always so much nicer too!

I know how hard you all work to qualify and I’m humbled by the great distances some of you travel to take part but it was wonderful to see you all, I hope you had as good a time as I did. I look forward to the new round of qualifying and to the finals in 2022, hopefully I shall see you all again then!”

 

 

Elandlodge.com 50cm National Hunter Trial Championship

The 2021 Championships was the first time the 50cm class has been included in the finals, and we’re pleased to report that all went smoothly and we were very impressed by the standard of riding. The 50cm class is the perfect way to get into Cross Country riding and to experience a National Championship environment at the very grass roots of the sport. Young rider Erin Bookes and her pony Lacey were crowned our first winners of the weekend after a spectacular display of riding the whole way around the course.

Determination and skill won Erin Brooks & Lacey the 50cm National Championship

Determination and skill won Erin Brooks & Lacey the 50cm National Championship

9yr old Paddy modelling his Hunter Trial Championship Hoody, after placing 3rd in the 50cm class

9yr old Paddy showing off his Hunter Trial Championship Hoody, after placing 3rd in the 50cm class

Stacie Charlton riding Flynn to victory int he 70cm National Championship

Stacie Charlton riding Flynn to victory in the 70cm National Championship

Elandlodge.com 70cm National Hunter Trial Championship

The biggest class of Saturday, the 70cm Championship, boasted over 100 entrants, and made for a thrilling spectacle of competitive riding. Congratulations to 2021 70cm National Champion: Stacie Charlton riding Flynn.

Elandlodge.com 80cm Pairs National Hunter Trial Championship

The final class of the day was the ever exciting 80cm Pairs Class. This is always one of our favourite classes to watch, as the riders speed around the course, shouting instructions, working as a team and generally having a whale of a time. After all what’s more fun than jumping round a national championship track with your riding buddy! Congratulations to winning pair Hannah & Sarah Cliffe, who came home just one tenth of a second over the optimum time.

We’re always in awe of the fancy moves pulled over the dressing fence, and this year was no exception, as Joanne Royle and Jordan Bond nailed a complicated hug maneuver whilst their horses jumped in perfect synchronization.

Hannah & Sarah Cliffe working together to win the 80cm Pairs National Championship title

Hannah & Sarah Cliffe working together to win the 80cm Pairs National Championship title

Joanna & Jordan's mid-air hug won them the dressing fence competition

Joanna & Jordan's mid-air hug won them the dressing fence competition

Olivia Vials and Lostock Playboy flying to the win in the 80cm National Championship

Olivia Vials and Lostock Playboy flying to the win in the 80cm National Championship

Elandlodge.com 80cm National Hunter Trial Championship

After a small rain shower overnight, day 2 dawned dry and warm, if a little bit grey. The first class of the day was the 80cm individual finals and this was also the largest class of the championship weekend with 109 entries in total. This competitive class saw some absolutely stunning riding, with less than 2 seconds separating the top ten finishers. A huge well done to Olivia Vials for a fantastically judged round landing her top spot in the 80cm National Championship.

Elandlodge.com 90cm National Hunter Trial Championship

With the competition running smoothly and on time, the sun finally started to shine and the 90cm class was well underway. A fascinating round to watch with some technical fences bringing out some brave and professional riding. This year’s National 90cm Champion was Mark Fyfe and Knockahunna Alfie.

Mark Fyfe Piloting Knockahunna Alfie to victory in the 90cm National Championship

Mark Fyfe Piloting Knockahunna Alfie to victory in the 90cm National Championship

Naomi Davies took home the Ernie Ashford Trophy for highest placed local rider in the 90cm Class

Naomi Davies took home the Ernie Ashford Trophy for highest placed local rider in the 90cm Class

Sophia Williams & Rodney completed a flawless round to become 1m National Champions

Sophia Williams & Rodney completed a flawless round to become 1m National Champions

Elandlodge.com 1m National Hunter Trial Championship

The final title up for grabs was the 1m class. Consisting of strong up-to-height fences and technical combinations, the course brought out the very best in the competitors, who rode cleanly and boldly to complete many successful rounds. Rider Sophia Willams and horse Rodney were crowned as the 1m National Hunter Trial Champions.

Retraining of Racehorses at the National Hunter Trial Championships

Some fantastic prizes were also on offer from Retraining of Racehorses for their members competing over the weekend. The winners were:  70cm Zoe Long riding The Batham Boy, 80cm Lauren Faggetter riding Bobs Boy, 90cm Emma Morris riding Our Ashley, 1m Frere Buckland riding Come What July. It’s always a pleasure to watch these horses flourishing having made a successful transition into a new career.

Highest placed Ex-racer in the 70cm was The Batham Boy ridden by Zoe Long

Highest placed Ex-racer in the 70cm was The Batham Boy ridden by Zoe Long

Ex-racer Bobs Boy & Lauren Faggetter got top ROR placing in the 80cm Class

Ex-racer Bobs Boy & Lauren Faggetter got top ROR placing in the 80cm Class

Emma Morris & Ex-racer Our Ashley were highest placed ROR in the 90cm Class

Emma Morris & Ex-racer Our Ashley were highest placed ROR in the 90cm Class

Highet placed ROR in the 1m class was taken by Frere Buckland and Ex-racer Come What July

Highest placed ROR in the 1m class was taken by Frere Buckland and Ex-racer Come What July

And so, the exhilarating weekend came to a close with celebration for some, progress made by others and new learning experiences for all, horses and riders alike. One of many positive conversations overheard expressed much gratitude to the team at Eland, volunteers, supporters and sponsors for a fantastically run national competition.

Elandlodge.com National Hunter Trial Championship Event Report - Collage