We are delighted to share the news that Freya (Year IV) competed in the Voltaire Design Grassroots Championships at Badminton last week. Freya's mother has been in touch to tell us all about Freya and her horse Abi's incredible achievement...
"Having competed at the Bramham NAF BE80 Championships last year, Freya set herself a goal of stepping up and competing at Badminton Grassroots in 2024. Freya and Abi achieved this goal by qualifying at the Chillington Horse Trials last year, and so the date was set and the countdown to the Championship was on.
Freya and Abi have trained hard, riding at least five times a week together over the past few months. This process involved training on the gallops to get Abi’s fitness to a championship level by being able to endure the long cross-country track, as well as training for dressage and showjumping, plus clinics and competition experience in between.
A championship is always more gruelling: the dressage test is in a big arena; the showjumping is always full height and often more technical; and the cross country is not only longer, but definitely more challenging, being a technical course. To add to the challenge, Freya would be competing in an open-age group where the average age is mid-30s - far beyond Freya's 15 years of age.
Badminton itself is an incredible stage. The cross country runs right alongside the international riders who compete in the 5 star event. It is exciting to be there just watching, never mind competing on such a high-profile stage. So, at just 15, to have simply competed at Badminton and completed the course is a huge achievement in itself. The crowds, the atmosphere and the setting were enough to put many off, but these two really did themselves proud.
We drove down on Tuesday with a four-and-a-half-hour journey and settled Abi into her stables for the week ahead. Everything was in place and the following morning Freya had her dressage test early on.
They cruised in and sat in 2nd place for some time, but eventually dropped to 7th place overnight with an incredible dressage score of 29. The dressage continued through to the second day, and Freya still sat in 7th place all the way through to the end of dressage and on to the showjumping.
Having had no expectations going into this, we were actually faced with the thought that they may achieve 7th place overall. I think the pressure did eventually kick in, and sadly they got 3 poles in the showjumping. This saw them fall right down the board. The disappointment was big, but their favourite part of the competition - the cross country - followed quickly and there was no time to be despondent. Before we knew it, we were heading with much excitement to cross country.
This was the hardest and most technical course Freya and Abi had ever ridden and it was causing problems with lots of riders. We needn’t have worried as they absolutely smashed it, finishing the course clear and within the time, and Abi had plenty of running left in her.
Overall, they finished in a very respectable 50th place out of 110 riders. I think Freya was one of the youngest riders, which is an incredible achievement. We spoke to lots of riders who said they’ve tried their whole career to get here. We are so proud that these two have had the opportunity to do this so young. I know Freya will have learned huge amounts from the experience.
Freya is now continuing her training with the British Eventing U18s squad representing The North, which will see her train and compete throughout the coming season."