Aintree is next stop on Lucy’s route to top

RISING STAR: Young show-jumper Lucy Gilsenan, 16, from Staintondale near Scarborough. Picture by James Hardisty.
RISING STAR: Young show-jumper Lucy Gilsenan, 16, from Staintondale near Scarborough. Picture by James Hardisty.
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STAINTONDALE’S Lucy Gilsenan will cap a fine year with not one but two shots at glory in next week’s National Amateur Championships of show-jumping in Aintree.

It will be the 16-year-old’s first appearance at a BSJA competition, but it is a fair bet it will not be her last.

Gilsenan has qualified for both the 85cm and 95cm National Amateur championships on her 15.2hh horse Qui Qui.

Aintree representation caps a fine year for the teenager with multiple success at the David Broome in Wales followed by victories in the National Cash Jumping finals at Netley Hall and the title of Port Royal Show Jumper of the Year.

The Scarborough Sixth Form College star has come a long way since being introduced to riding aged four when her parents purchased an aptly named pony in Blossom. Twelve years on, the Yorkshire ace could be about to bloom on a national stage, though Gilsenan feels qualification for the Aintree event is an achievement in itself.

Gilsenan told The Yorkshire Post: “It will definitely be a special experience for me as this is the first time that I have qualified for a national BSJA competition.

“To qualify to jump on Sunday would be a great achievement for me as I know that the competition will be very tough! But I‘m very excited to have qualified for both the 85cm and 95cm National Amateur Championships and can’t wait to compete at such a prestigious venue.”

Gilsenan can still remember her introduction to riding, when her parents returned from a shopping trip with a twist. Gilsenan recalled: “I started riding when I was four-years-old when mum and dad returned from York horse sales with a hairy 11.2hh grey pony called Blossom.

“I then quickly progressed, realising that my first love was show-jumping. I’m fortunate that I am an only child so I do get most the attention from my mum and dad as well as the much needed money!

“They are both very supportive and want me to go far in the sport, taking me show-jumping every weekend.”

Under the tutelage of riding instructor Sylvia Terry, most weekends this year have been winning ones with Gilsenan picking up three golds and a silver at David Broome, spread out between her rides on horses Qui Qui and Ballybane Tulira as well as pony Maddy.

Gilsenan and Qui Qui then won the biggest class of the weekend at National Cash Jumping finals at Netley Hall – the 1m 10 horse Grand Prix.

The duo then scooped the title of Port Royal Show Jumper of the Year and most recently Gilsenan won the Joshua Jones 1m Blue Chip Qualifier at Richmond Equestrian Centre, qualifying for the Blue Chip Championships to be held at Hartpury College next April in the process.

It follows that the rider has lofty ambitions for 2015 and beyond though it seems wherever the show-jumping world takes her, the Staintondale home will remain key to any plan. Gilsenan said: “In terms of the future, I aim to qualify for Scope next year, and hopefully in the long term qualify to jump at the Horse of the Year Show.

“Qui Qui is the one who has really taken my show-jumping up a level. Like most chestnut mares, she can be very temperamental but has a massive jump in her and has the potential to take me far.

“I would love to show-jump professionally but I realise that I need the right breaks in order to progress in the sport as a full time career.

“Once I finish my education at college, I don’t currently know what profession I would like to go into apart from, of course, being a professional show-jumper.

“Although I’m unsure, I don’t think I will go to university – I don’t think I could live without my horses!”