British Equestrian is pleased to welcome a new cohort of athletes to the Podium Potential Pathway level of its World Class Programme.
The aim of the Podium Potential Pathway is to identify, support and develop younger athletes who demonstrate the capability to be part of a senior championship team in the future. Funded by UK Sport and Sport England, the programme provides selected athletes with an education designed to further develop the performance foundation skills required to enable them to make the next step towards the podium. Athletes are selected onto the programme for a two-year cycle and can stay on the programme for a maximum of four years.
On Monday 17 May, following Government guidance and strict COVID protocols, selected athletes were invited to an induction day at Hogarths Hotel in Solihull. The day provided them with more information about what they can expect from the next two years and an opportunity to meet members of the World Class Programme staff, including their discipline mentors. They were also issued with their programme kit from British Equestrian team suppliers Toggi.
During the morning session, former rugby union player Ed Jackson talked about his recovery from an accident in which he broke his neck, and how the recovery and rehabilitation process has helped shape the principles of purpose, progress, perseverance and perspective in the way he now views his life and the challenges he has faced. The afternoon’s keynote speaker was Olympic gold medal-winning slalom canoeist Joe Clarke MBE, who gave an athlete’s perspective through his journey into the sport, and explained the importance that mental fortitude, resilience and focusing on the end goal plays in success. He also emphasised that however great the success you might have, it must still be the love of the sport that drives you.
Following the event, David Hamer, Head of Performance Pathways at British Equestrian, commented: “The athletes joining the programme really impressed us during the selection process. We encourage them to now spend the next two years fully utilising all the resources that are now available to them as athletes on a World Class Programme, so that they can maximise their performances, develop a career in sport and, in the future, progress to the next step in British Equestrian’s structured performance pathway. We hope to see them ride on the senior championship team one day.”
Podium Potential Pathway athletes have access to top equestrian specialists and coaches during their time on the programme. Technical skills and knowledge are supported by a human and equine sport science team, who deliver biomechanics, physiotherapy, sport psychology, nutrition advice, vet and farrier support, and saddler fitting advice. Athletes also receive guidance on managing themselves and their careers, as well as their finances.
“It’s incredible to be on the Podium Potential Pathway,” says former Junior and Young Rider European medallist Bubby Upton, who now competes at four-star with her string of horses. “I think that the access we have to resources, from coaching to biomechanics, is amazing and I’m really excited to see the difference that it’ll hopefully make to my performance. I feel really lucky to be part of the programme.”
The athletes joining the Eventing Podium Potential Pathway are:
- 22-year-old Bubby Upton, who recently finished her final year at Edinburgh University, where she studies Sports Management. Bubby has represented Great Britain at European Championships five times, winning seven medals – including individual gold at the 2017 Junior European Championships. She’s based in Newmarket and hopes to make her CCI5* debut this season.
- 21-year-old Georgina Wood took the reins of Coronel MCJ, formerly the World Championship ride of Brazil’s Marcio Carvalho Jorge, in 2018 and has enjoyed a fruitful trajectory up the levels since. She made her four-star debut with an impressive clear over an exceptionally tough track at Hartpury in 2019 and jumped clear around Bicton’s CCI3*-L last season.
- 29-year-old Hector Payne made his first major impressions upon the industry while working as a rider for William Fox-Pitt, taking the reins on a number of his horses in the aftermath of William’s major accident at Le Lion in 2015. Now, he runs his own business alongside girlfriend Yaz Olsson-Sanderson, and competes a string of horses helmed by five-star mount Dynasty. The pair were aiming for their third five-star next month at Luhmühlen — we previously saw them at Burghley in 2018 and Pau last year — but Hector suffered a broken leg in a fall last week. Speedy recovery, Hector!
- 26-year-old Laura Schroter is a familiar face at the upper levels, competing successfully at four-star with top horse Willem Van Wup and enjoying three-star success with Corgary Femme Fatale over the last season. The Pony Club ‘A’ graduate formerly rode for Gemma Tattersall and the Billy Stud before setting up her own business in West Sussex, helped along by the Mark Todd Bridging the Gap scholarship for 2018/2019.
- 23-year-old Mollie Summerland, who stepped up to CCI5* last year at Pau with Charly van ter Heiden, finishing 10th. Mollie produced Charly through the levels herself and is based in Wiltshire with her small but steadily expanding string of horses. Previously based with Pippa Funnell, she’s finished in the top ten in 17 of her 25 internationals with her top horse and will head to Luhmühlen for their second CCI5* next month.
- 18-year-old Molly Faulkner had a successful Pony career, contributing to team silver at the 2016 Pony Europeans and finishing 25th individually the following year. Since then, the Kentish rider has enjoyed a successful step up to Advanced and international three-star, with top ten placings in CCI3*-S classes at Gatcombe and Cornbury and the CCI3*-L at Bicton.
- 19-year-old Oliver Jackson was the 2018 National Pony Champion, and represented Great Britain in the 2017 Pony European Championships in just his third-ever international competition. Now, he’s stepped up successfully to three-star, with top ten finishes at the level at Burnham Market, Thoresby, and Cornbury with top horse Viktor Krum.
- 24-year-old Yasmin Ingham has been the national under-16, under-18, under-21 and under-25 champion, and has represented Great Britain at three European Championships: the 2012 Pony Europeans, where she finished 36th, the 2013 Pony Europeans, where she won team and individual gold, and the 2018 Young Rider Europeans, where she finished in fourth place individually. She grew up on the Isle of Man, where she was very involved with her local Pony Club, and enjoyed early successes aboard the former Mary King rides Fernhill Urco and Imperial Cavalier. She’s since made her five-star debut, finishing 16th in 2018 aboard Night Line and returning in 2020 with Rehy DJ — both self-produced horses. She’s got her eye on the 2024 Olympics with Banzai du Loir, who won the eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S, ordinarily held at Blenheim, in 2020.