The NFU Mutual Pony Club Tetrathlon Championships took place from 13-16 August at Bishop Burton College, East Riding of Yorkshire; with the swim phase of the competition being held at Beverley Leisure Centre.
Pony Club Tetrathlon provides a challenging competition combining skills in horsemanship with all-round athletic ability. The rules are based on Modern Pentathlon, with points accumulated for performance across the four phases of shooting, swimming, running and cross country riding.
Over 300 Pony Club Members took part in this year’s Tetrathlon Championships, including forty Members from The Irish Pony Club who made the long trip to the UK as guests.
The top slot in the Open Individual Boys section was held for a second consecutive year by Christopher Harris from the Four Burrow Hunt Branch. Christopher scored 4,574 to once again receive the coveted Wilkinson Sword; the first Open Boy to retain his title since John Fletcher in 2002. The long journey from Southern Ireland was worthwhile for the invited team of Gordon Shannon, David Brickley and brothers John and Jamie Carroll who finished the Open Boys Team section on 11,360 points to secure a win for the Laois Branch. In the Open Individual Girls competition, the top slot went to Mollie Hansford from the Cotley Hunt Branch who finished on 4,292 points, and Natalie Phillips and sisters Alice and Frances Elgar from the Wilton Hunt Branch took the Girls Team honours with a score of 10,330.
In the Intermediate section, the South Northumberland Boys Team of Jack Clarkson and brothers William and Matthew Quinn took the win, and the Girls Team from the Newmarket & Thurlow Hunt comprising Sarah Howlett, Ellie Berisford, Zoe Watson and Belinda Dow also produced a strong lead of 11,606 to take the win. Individually the top spot went to last year’s Junior winner Jack Stephens from the Brecon & Talybont Hunt for the boys, and Sadie Abel from the South Durham Hunt for the girls.
The Junior team of Arthur Townend, Harry Trotman and Matt Baker from the Ledbury Hunt enjoyed the win in the Boys section, with Braes of Derwent South’s Conor Dougall taking the Individual Boys honours. Stephanie Craig, Katie Ritchie and sisters Sophie and Amber Steel from the Eglinton Hunt triumphed in the Girls Team section and Emma Whitaker from Lancaster & District took the Individual Girls title.
Retiring Pony Club Tetrathlon Chairman James Helyer commented “For the third consecutive year the facilities at Bishop Burton College delivered everything the Tetrathlon competitors could wish for. Mark Watler’s testing cross country ride and the spectator filled running course reflected the atmosphere of these Championships, and the glorious sunshine added to this. A packed prize giving celebrated the outstanding sporting achievements made by our Members and reflects positively on the future of Pony Club Tetrathlon.” James continued to thank sponsors NFU Mutual for their generous support, and said he could not have asked for more from his final Championships as he prepares to step down as Tetrathlon Chairman.
As a follow up to lasts year’s successful pilot competition for grassroots, competitors from linked Pony Club Centres Tumpy Green and Naburn Grange fielded teams. Top individual honours went to Tommy Pearson from Naburn Grange, who rode one of the four clear jumping rounds to finish on 3,796. The Tumpy Green team of Ned Secker, Isobel Lewis, Rebecca Cross and Jamie Lessels came out on top in the team event with a score of 9,537.
Tumpy Green Team Manager Nikki Secker said: “I am very proud of how our Members help each other, picking each other up when they feel they can’t go on. They have all come so far, and going to The Championships was the highlight of our year.”
Many Pony Club Tetrathletes have graduated onwards to compete in Modern Pentathlon at the highest level, including the medal winners in the past three Olympic Games, Georgina Harland, Kate Allenby MBE and Heather Fell. Coral Kennerley, who began shooting when she started Tetrathlon with The Pony Club, represented Wales in two events at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, coming 6th in the 10m Air Pistol Women’s competition.
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