Burglary-hit riding club boosted by Princess Anne visit

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A LEEDS riding club is preparing to roll out the red carpet for 
Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.

Now based at Gateon Hill Farm in East Keswick, the Leeds Area Group’s Riding For The Disabled Association has received confirmation that the Princess Royal will be visiting their club on Wednesday, January 9.

The club were left broken-hearted when burgled earlier this year but the Wyke Lane-based organisation now have a royal visit to look forward to, something that was masterminded by club chairman Wenda Fletcher.

The club caters for around 30 different riders, both adults and children, with a bumper turnout guaranteed for the second Wednesday in January.

“Being burgled was dreadful but it’s so nice that we now have the Princess Royal coming,” said Fletcher, whose club saw around £20,000 of equipment stolen during July’s burglary.

“The Princess Royal is the president of the Riding for the Disabled Association and I know that she makes about eight or nine different visits a year.

“I thought I would just ask her and it was brilliant when we got confirmation that it was a yes,” added Fletcher.

“It is fantastic news for us and it really is a privilege.”

In this coming week, all eyes will be on Olympia ahead of next week’s London International Horse Show which begins on Monday.

The Christmas highlight has attracted a star-studded line-up including Olympic dressage champion Charlotte Dujardin, who will be aboard her London 2012 horse Valegro for the Reem Acra FEI World Cup event at Olympia next Monday and Tuesday.

Olympia will be Dujardin’s first appearance on Valegro since the summer with the London star joined by her coach and mentor, Olympic team gold medallist Carl Hester, who will be riding Uthopia.

They will lead a strong British contingency in the preliminary grand prix on Monday including Nikki Crisp riding Pasoa, Michael Eilberg with Half Moon Delphi and Daniel Sherriff on Bayford Hall Dallaglio.

Britain’s Richard Davison, who rode as an individual in London and was British team reserve, will also be competing.

The top 15 combinations from Monday’s preliminary grand prix will go forward to the freestyle to music competition on Tuesday night.

Nine of the world’s top 10 showjumpers will also compete in the Rolex FEI World Cup.

New No 1 Christian Ahlmann heads the list, alongside Olympic gold medallist and world No 2 Steve Guerdat.

British hopes will be headed by world No 5 Nick Skelton with strong competition including Marcus Ehning, Kevin Staut, Pius Schwizer, Edwina Tops-Alexander, Penelope Leprevost and Gerco Schröder.

Skelton’s Greenwich team-mates Scott Brash, Ben Maher and Peter Charles will join him in the competition, which takes place a week on Saturday.

In total, 12 Britons will be hoping for glory including Tina Fletcher, William Funnell, Laura Renwick, Tim Stockdale, John Whitaker, Michael Whitaker, Robert Whitaker and Guy Williams.