Return to familiar ground is fertile for old pupil

Christopher Moorhouse won the national 1.30m open championship qualifier on Hamilton H at Bishop Burton College.
Christopher Moorhouse won the national 1.30m open championship qualifier on Hamilton H at Bishop Burton College.
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A GRADUATE of Bishop Burton College’s equine academy returned to his alma mater at the weekend to win a top showjumping class.

Yarm-based Christopher Moorhouse, 19, who was one of the first students to secure a place on the college’s prestigious equine academy, was competing at the British Showjumping Seniors competition held last Saturday and Sunday.

The teenager, who has now finished his course at the college, won the national 1.30m open championship qualifier on Hamilton H.

His achievement was all the more impressive as the top six placed were all within a second of each other.

Moorhouse’s time was 26.08 seconds, with Thomas Whitaker taking second and third placings in times of 26.13 and 26.24 respectively.

Sixth-placed Kerry Brennan was on 26.83 so there was hardly a cat’s whisker between them all.

Young riders have to prove they are of a high enough calibre to get onto the academy, which for those successful candidates offers an individually structured training programme while studying for an academic qualification.

“It’s always great to go back and do well at Bishop Burton,” said Moorhouse, who has now been selected for an Olympic pathway programme.

“H is now 10 but we’ve had him since he was a four year-old and have produced him ourselves which always makes any victory that bit more special.

“He’s no stranger to Bishop Burton – the academy enabled us to have our own horses with us at college and he stayed with me a few times.”

The Sport England lottery-funded British Equestrian Federation Excel Talent Programme that Moorhouse has been selected for gives riders access to the top coaches, physiotherapists, psychologists, vets and nutritionists through a series of rider performance camps.

Jeanette Dawson OBE, principal and chief executive of Bishop Burton College, said it was “an absolute joy” to see former students succeeding.

“There is so much more to succeeding in any sport than simply being good at it,” said Dawson.

“Sponsorship, marketing, fitness, the list of things talented sportspeople learn on our academies is much wider than people might at first think.

“I am so pleased for Christopher; he’s a real inspiration to others and it means so much to myself and all the staff to see former students doing well.

“We were one of the first colleges in the country to run an equine academy and I’m sure there will be plenty more success stories to follow.”

Several members of the famous Whitaker showjumping family were out in force, but the weekend’s competition was dominated by Northallerton’s Paul Barker.

He had a fantastic treble, winning three big classes.

U2 took the 1.25 Open, Happy Boy won the Blue Chip Dynamic, while seven year-old Lux Fabulous secured the top spot in the National 1.30m Open Championship Qualifier.

Olivia Dales, from Brough, took second in the Sport Horse Classic Blue Riband Supreme Championship on six year-old Eclipse in spite of having had a difficult week after attending her grandfather’s funeral just a few days earlier.

Dales told The Yorkshire Post: “I had a rather mixed weekend really.

“I had a second in the Blue Riband class on one of my home produced six-year-old-stallions and a seventh in the Grand Prix on Sunday with a mare which we have bred and produced ourselves where I had the second fastest time but unfortunately I had a fence down.

“But we haven’t had the most fantastic week as it was my grandpa’s funeral as well.

“It’s all been a bit of a boggle but he loved his showjumping and I’m sure he would have been proud.”

In the para-equestrian jumping sphere, Doncaster’s Sarah Jo Wicks and Harrogate’s Sally Kingsley are celebrating notable call ups to para-equestrian jumping classes which are held alongside the FEI CSIO five-star Longines International Show at La Baule, France which take place from May 14 until May 17.

Wicks has been invited with two horses – her own seven-year-old bay mare, Kalika, as well as Violetta, a 13 year-old bay mare owned by Rachel Appleyard.

Wicks will be accompanied by Chef d’Equipe Anne Newbery and fellow rider Kingsley with her own 10 year-old dark bay gelding Amarillo II and will compete under KBIS British Equestrian Insurance sponsor branding.

The para-equestrian jumping classes are scheduled to take place on May 14-15.