Ecclesbourne School's equestrian team
Ecclesbourne School's equestrian team

The equestrian team from The Ecclesbourne School in Duffield has been crowned as national champions.

Ecclesbourne School riders are celebrating after successfully claiming the title of County Challenge Champions in the 80cm (novice) show jumping class at the national finals.

Schools from all over the UK battled it out at the prestigious NSEA (National Schools Equestrian Association) event, which was held at Bury Farm Equestrian Village in Buckinghamshire.

Qualifying competitions occur throughout the year, allowing only one school to represent their region.

At the championships, 44 schools were represented by 131 individual riders. The Ecclesbourne team was the tenth school into the arena and then had to endure a nailbiting wait having to watch the remaining 34 schools compete. Competition was fierce but they couldn’t match the skill and determination of the Ecclesbourne team, which was the fastest team to successfully jump clear in both rounds.

On an individual ticket, as the only under-14 year old competitor for Ecclesbourne, Tara Foster had an outstanding performance, taking third place in the 80cm event.

Tara also won both the 70cm (mini) and 80cm practice competitions on the Friday evening.

Other members of the Ecclesbourne team will also represent Derbyshire at the 90cm (Intermediate) County Finals which take place in October, at Addington Manor, Buckinghamshire.

Further qualification events for dressage, show jumping and jumping with style are also on the agenda throughout the year, which the team is hoping to qualify for.

The equestrian team currently has 13 members. Team manager Nick Fenton is keen to hear from any new rider at the school who may be interested in joining the team as it looks forward to hopefully continuing success in the future.

To get to the finals, the riders beat 12 other schools and 93 competitors from across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to be crowned both individual and team county show jumping champions at the Broomfield College qualifier event last month.

After that victory, Nick Fenton said: “I am so proud of the girls who show such dedication and passion for their sport. The team spirit is a pleasure to witness as they encourage and support each other through the inevitable highs and lows. Competition is fierce with an ever increasing number of schools forming equestrian teams.

“I also want to recognise the huge help and support the riders’ parents provide and the time and commitment the team coaches, Georgie Barnes and Richard Seals, give us,” he added.