Star brings Nikki some enduring title success

It was a brilliant occasion for 12-year -old Nikki Brown when her pony Bleachgreen Star of India, otherwise known as Star, became the Endurance GB National novice champion for 2008.

Nikki, who lives near Whitby, was awarded the MIRA trophy for the champion novice horse or pony gaining the most points in graded rides of less than 45km in its first season of competition.

The presentation was made at the Endurance GB awards dinner held at Kegworth, Derbyshire.

Endurance riding is a growing competitive sport and riders covered more than 249,000km in rides organised by Endurance GB during the 2008 season.

Nikki completed 10 rides each of 40km and in each ride took the maximum possible points to get the 'perfect' score of 700 points.

Riders of all age groups from England and Wales competed for this award and this is the first time that a junior has won.

This is a considerable achievement for Nikki, who has taken part in endurance rides since the age of eight when she and her little 11h 3in grey pony Shankly were regulars on the endurance circuit in North Yorkshire, Durham, Cumbria, Northumberland, Nottingham and Lincolnshire, going as far as 65km at a time.

Nikki started riding at two-years-old on a tiny Shetland named Tommy. At just five, riding Shankly, she covered 57 miles in five days, raising 600 in sponsorship money for Danby School.

In 2007, Nikki and Shankly were placed fifth in the National Championship for junior riders.

This year she won the Snowflake Trophy with Star, a chestnut Welsh Section B, who stands 13h and 3in. She also won the novice and junior trophies at the North and East Yorkshire Group of EGB prize giving.

Before Nikki outgrew Shankly, she saved money from breeding and selling hamsters and bought Star as a youngster using her own money. She broke and schooled him herself with a little help from mum Bridget. Star took part in a few pleasure rides in 2007 and this year has been his first experience of the longer 40km rides.

Nicki hopes to take Star on a few 65km rides in 2009 but will be concentrating on taking his younger brother, Cocoa, whom she also bought, through his novice year of competition. Nicki aims to compete in 100 and 160km rides in the future.

"In Nikki, we undoubtedly have a star for the future who needs sponsorship and support for this expensive sport," said Liz Worthy, of Endurance GB. "If anyone out there can help please get in touch initially through the North & East Yorkshire Group of EGB."