A COTSWOLDS landlady will forever remember her first visit to the Skipton Horse Trials after a surprise victory booked a ticket to Badminton 2016.
Esme Mitchell, 49, combines eventing with running her pub ‘The Red Lion’ in Moreton in Marsh.
She only started affiliated competition in 2012 but was quickly inspired to take the plunge to aim for Badminton’s Mitsubishi Motors Cup – formerly the Grassroots Championships.
Mitchell is now heading to next Spring’s final, having won her Skipton BE100 class on Donau VDL.
In a class of 46 riders, she posted a dressage mark of 24.3 before jumping clear rounds in both the cross-country and show-jumping phases.
Coached by British Eventing accredited coach Simon Lawrence, she will join around 100 other riders at the international eventing venue.
“Skipton is definitely a venue worth a visit,” beamed Mitchell. “You drive over the moors into the prettiest valley with the most stunning backdrop all around you.
“I think it would have been a fantastic day even if we hadn’t won, everyone was so lovely, with real Yorkshire hospitality.
“I wanted to give myself a few opportunities to qualify this year in case I didn’t get it right first time but I went and won the first qualifier in my plan.
“Everyone has to have an ambition so when someone told me there was a competition for amateurs at Badminton I thought I have to have a go, especially because I am 50 next year. I have ridden horses all my life but have really only just woken up to eventing. I love the fact that it is a sport for everyone; whether you are 18 or 58.”