Ambitious Scruton on an upward trajectory

Dressage rider Maisie Scruton
Dressage rider Maisie Scruton
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HULL teenager Maisie Scruton admits southern England has a reputation for producing the best dressage riders.

But if the ambitious 16-year-old has her way, that perception will very quickly change.

West Ella-based Scruton and her 16-year-old Oldenburg mare Hot Chocolate 43 will fly out to France tomorrow to represent Great Britain in dressage’s Junior and Young Rider European Championships in Compiegne.

And the Beverley-born teenager will have Yorkshire company north of Paris in the shape of Driffield’s Charlotte Fry, who is also one of Scruton’s closest friends.

Fry will partner Remming with the duo forming one half of Great Britain’s junior team which is completed by Gaby Lucas on Laurentius II and Chloe Vell on Kaja Di Valentina.

And a third Yorkshire dressage ace may yet be sent to Paris with Hull’s Jessica Knapton also second reserve for the Young Riders team.

The county’s emerging dressage dominance doesn’t end there with Sheffield High School starlet Erin Williams also preparing to fly out to Italy with Dynasty for the pony European Championships in Arezzo that begin on July 23.

They are championships that Hull Collegiate School Sixth Form student Scruton has competed and excelled in over the last two years.

That progress should continue with proud Scruton admitting she is relishing flying the flag not just for Great Britain but also for northern England and Yorkshire.

“There’s me and Lottie on the junior team and it’s great because it has always been a very southern thing has dressage,” said Scruton.

“A lot of the best riders live down south but Yorkshire is really coming up the ranks with a lot of the younger riders. We are starting to get a better grounding in the sport.

“Lottie is one of my best friends. She is really, really good and we have got a very exciting team – there’s a lot of excitement about the prospects for medals.

“I also know that Jessica Knapton is reserve for the Young Riders and she is from around here and then there is Erin Williams in the ponies and it’s great that we are all doing so well.”

Scruton, whose star horse is trained by Julie Blanchard, is no stranger to flying the GB flag as her record-breaking efforts in 2011’s pony Europeans show.

Riding her now 11-year-old stallion pony Rembrandt DDH, whom she still owns but is reluctantly selling, Scruton gained the highest pony team test score that Great Britain had ever had at the Europeans with her eventual ascension to the junior team no surprise.

“Going up a level is really cool,” said Scruton, whose parents Ian and Isobel bought Hot Chocolate 43 last October.

“I went to France earlier this year and I was brushing shoulders with Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin who are Olympic gold medallists which was brilliant.”

Clearly unfazed by the star names around her, that French adventure came in May’s Compiegne CDI*** Dressage International. It was Scruton’s first international at the level yet she still won her class with a with an eye-watering 71.66 per cent score.

Immediate thoughts are now on the coming week and the small matter of Scruton’s 17th birthday on the opening day of competition on Wednesday.

Long term there is a strong desire to continue stepping up in class.

“In the next year I’d like to move up to Prix St Georges level so I can go out with the Seniors and do Small Tour,” said Scruton. “I’d like to try Prix St Georges, or go up to Young Rider level and have a go at the harder movements because my horse is very highly trained.

“We should probably look to move up on her because she has some special talents.”

As does her rider, who you sense also belongs at the top in the future.

“In the future, I guess my real goal is to ride at Grand Prix level. I’d love to do that,” she added.

“I have thought about the Olympics but I wouldn’t think about that until I was established at a higher level. But it is everyone’s dream of course.”

2012 postponement only serves to make Hughes more determined

DONCASTER’S excited James Hughes is counting down the days to this Thursday’s Cock O’the North Championship at Harrogate’s Great Yorkshire Show.

The 2013 Great Yorkshire Show will kick into life on Tuesday with this year’s event more eagerly-awaited then ever following last year’s enforced cancellation due to the weather.

No such problems are anticipated 12 months down the line with Hughes looking forward to Thursday’s showjumping showpiece which has an £8,000 first prize.

Hughes, 24, had two fences down in the 2011 renewal with Britain’s No 41 optimistic of faring better this year with either Panacee or Peiter VI, who have had warm ups in the Hickstead Derby.

“I’ll be taking Panacee and Peiter VI there all being well and the Cock O’the North is one of the biggest classes in the country,” said Hughes.

“It’s got a real big prize-money pot – I think there is over £20,000 in the pot so it’s a big deal and a lot of the riders from Hickstead I am sure will be entering.

“It’s a great show, it’s a lovely venue and it’s one of the biggest shows in the country.

“Last year was a shame with the weather but it’s one of the highlights of the national season for most riders is the Yorkshire show.”

The showjumping action at the event begins on Tuesday with the Barber Titleys William Hanson Stakes followed by The Badsworth Stakes Accumulator. On Wednesday there’s the International Stairway competition and The Rudding Park Great Yorkshire Championship.

The final day sees The Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Mini Major Whip Round followed by the climax – The Ripon Select Foods Cock O’the North.

Elsewhere on the showground, highlights include a mock battle staged by The Yorkshire Regiment each day in the Main Ring and displays by The White Helmets, The Royal Signals’ Motor Cycle Display Team.

Tickets on the gate are £24 for adults, £23 concessions and £11 for children.

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