In a closely fought finale, Olympic showjumpers Graham and Tina Fletcher crowned 12-year-old Lara Gorse the winner in their X-Factor style competition to chose a young showjumper of the future.
The youngster, from Mountsorrel near Loughborough, who started riding when she was five-years-old, was delighted with her success at this weekend’s Countryside Live in Harrogate. She was riding Covenham Jade, a pony on loan from friends.
“I felt a little nervous as there were so many people, I’m not used to a big event like this. It’s exciting to have won,” she said.
Lara, who has inspired her younger sister Lottie, four, to take up riding too, was planning to celebrate her victory by taking her pony for a ride along a local stretch of beach.
Her day could have been very different. The family almost missed the event, after their lorry had broken down and they had been forced to borrow a trailer and campervan to travel to Harrogate.
“I’m so pleased we made it – we didn’t expect Lara to win. She’s always wanted to win a sash and this is her first one.
“I’ve never ridden a horse in my life, she certainly doesn’t get her talent from me,” laughed mum Haley.
Graham Fletcher said there had been a very strong field of competitors but Lara stood out for her willingness to learn and her stylish riding.
Dozens of riders were whittled down to just 10 for the final, with seven of the line up hailing from Yorkshire. Lauren Wilmot from Driffield came second.