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06

STORM STRAKER (L) RETURNS FROM NSEA AS NATIONAL CHAMPION

Sedbergh School returned from the four-day National Schools Equestrian Championships last week ranking eighth in the country and with a National Champion, Storm Straker, in the team. The Sedbergh School Equestrian team, established only one year ago, took nine horses and six riders to Addington Manor in Buckinghamshire, and competed in the 1 metre Show Jumping, 90 cm Show Jumping and 1 metre Eventing. Storm Straker, 17, from North Yorkshire, boards at Sedbergh School and is now National Champion on her horse William Wordsworth, after winning the 1 metre Eventing Class. Storm, the niece of an Olympic silver medallist, beat many other Great British riders including a top male rider from Shrewsbury who won a Team Gold Medal at the European Championships. 
 
Sedbergh Equestrian Team Manager Faye Barker, a Science teacher at Casterton, Sedbergh Preparatory School, said: "The officials and other schools were blown way by the standard of Storm's phenomenal riding. She also came seventh individually in this class on Versace and was one of two riders to have two horses in the top eight. On the final day,  Storm did four dressage tests on two horses.  She did so well to remember four complex tests done in quick succession.  She was against specialist dressage riders and horses which did not jump so did remarkable well to come 8th in the country in the Medium Dressage. We are absolutely thrilled with the success of the team and Storm. Around 40 schools competed in this competition, most with impressive Equestrian heritage and form. Our team is new and is growing each year. Our Senior riders now train weekly with the British Eventing U18 Northern Coach and our Prep School riders have a Team lesson every week. All of the riders competed in both indoor and outdoor arenas, in front of large crowds, and coped remarkably well with the pressure.
 
"To get to Nationals and qualify for three classes with the Team (1 metre Show Jumping, 90cm Show Jumping and also 1 metre Eventing) was such an achievement in itself.  People travel up and down the country trying to qualify for Nationals in the first place.  The competition was tough down there with some very high calibre riders and horses. The Sedbergh Team narrowly missed out on placings in the 1 metre Eventing Class.  Darcey Wilkinson, from Cheshire, did a superb round on William XVII and would have come 3rd in the country if she had qualified as an individual.  Elizabeth Gale, from Penrith, on Mister Tom and George Rigal, from Tadcaster, on Dylan also made up the Team with good rounds.  There were about 40 school teams in each class who qualified for Nationals and approximately 100 individuals.   We competed against all the major boarding schools including Wellington, Marlborough, Millfield, Uppingham, King's School Canterbury and Malvern.
 
Storm came 6th in the 1 metre Show Jumping and her time was so fast due to her virtually impossible angles which no one else dare attempt.  She would have come second but had a pole down.  The team, comprising Storm Straker, George Rigal, Darcey Wilkinson and Elizabeth Gale, also did brilliantly in this class and made the top eight for the final jump off.  We were thrilled to make the top eight but sadly the jump off did not go our way but they still got 8th placed rosettes.
 
With Storm winning the 1 metre Eventing, she was able to take part in the extra "Jumping with Style Jazz Class" which was a new event for this year.  Again, she did a flawless round and came 5th in the country.  We also were able to put in a Team for the 1m 10 Show Jumping which consisted of Darcey, Storm and Elizabeth.  The jumps were pretty big with huge spreads.  We had a few poles down as a team and came 11th in the country.  
 
Behind the scenes the Team Sedbergh Camp had a brilliant time, with some of us staying in the lorry park and others at local hotels.  Our horses were stabled in temporary stables in the field and one of which escaped on evening but fortunately did not wander far.   We had an alfresco Team Dinner every evening with homemade dishes cooked by the parents and we socialised with a lot of other schools.  The Sedbergh Support Team of parents were amazing and helped make this all happen.  The Support Team were up at 6.30am feeding and plaiting horses by torchlight.   Our riders were also up early and had walked several courses by 7.30am.  They were long and exhausting days  but the Sedbergh Camp loved every minute of it despite living in mud, having cold showers and limited access to electricity. 
 
On the final day,  Storm did four dressage tests on two horses.  She did so well to remember four complex tests done in quick succession.  She was against specialist dressage riders and horses which did not jump so did remarkable well to come 8th in the country in the Medium Dressage.  
 

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