Young star Platt flies the flag for Yorkshire

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Holly Woodhead had plenty of incentives to thrive at last year’s Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials.

The York-raised rider subsequently brought the Bramham house down by recording an emotional victory on DHI Lupison in the Under-25s CCI three-star. One year on, Yorkshire’s latest rising star Sophie Platt has a similar outcome in mind on Be Be III - en route to a long-term dream of starring at the Olympic Games...and Strictly Come Dancing.

Operating from the family’s livery yard just outside the tiny Doncaster village of Womersley, Platt will be one of several Yorkshire riders competing at next month’s 2016 Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials which begin on Thursday, June 9. But Platt will be the county’s sole hope in the event’s under-25s CCI three star – won last year by another Yorkshire raised rider in Woodhead.

Woodhead, whose grandad had passed away just a few weeks before the event, is now in genuine contention to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics and will again look to shine on DHI Lupison in this year’s CIC three-star. Platt knows it will be at least Tokyo 2020 before any of her Olympic dreams become a reality.

But at just 22 years of age the rider has time on her side and lofty ambitions to emulate Woodhead and reach stardom both in and out of the equestrian arena.

Relaxing at her home in the Yorkshire wilderness outside Womersley, Platt said of last year’s Under-25s winner: “Holly is quite a young idol to watch. She is very talented and it was really good to watch her last year. I imagine she will go to the Olympics on DHI Lupison. He jumps incredibly, he went double clear last year and he can pull off an amazing dressage test.

“I’m hoping I’m building my way up to that and I’m hoping I can do the same. I’ll put my best effort in and there’s always a chance isn’t there?

“My ultimate goal would be to go the Olympics, definitely, and then I can go on Strictly Come Dancing as an Olympic rider! I love my dancing, I have danced since I was little and then I finished it. I did it in Pontefract when I was younger but it was on a Saturday so I had the choice then to either keep dancing or riding and I chose the riding. But you will always find me at a party or on a night out – always on the dance floor.”

A former pupil of Ackworth School and Askham Bryan College, Platt will now hope there’s plenty to celebrate at this year’s Bramham – her second outing at Bramham having finished a creditable 36th in the CIC three-star last year on Be Be III.

“It was quite a lot to take in last year,” recalled Platt.

“You are there and you are stood with people like William Fox-Pitt and Pippa Funnell. It’s quite nerve-wracking and a lot to take in at first. But now I have done it once and I should be more used to it this year. I want to have some fun.”

Good friends Hazel Towers and Charlotte Brear also form part of the home county contingent, and Platt is counting down the days to an eagerly awaited event where the opening dressage stage – Be Be III’s weakest discipline – holds the most trepidation. Thereafter, Platt hopes she, Towers and Brear and can all do Yorkshire proud.

“Charlotte and Hazel are both amazing,” said Platt, who is sponsored by Fox Saddlers of Wetherby. “They have both got brilliant horses and us Yorkshire girls just like to kick on and have some fun.

“We’re very proud to be from Yorkshire and I’m really excited for this year’s Bramham; I’ve already been messaging Charlotte about our trot up outfits!”

Asked for what would be a ‘reasonable’ dressage score, Platt laughed: “I just want a dressage score in the low 60s. Anywhere close to low 60 and I will be having quite a few bottles that night.”