THE GLASGOW UNIVERSITY RIDING CLUB (GURC) has had one of their most successful seasons on record. Both the A and B teams have qualified for the BUCS Equestrian regional heats, which are the qualifiers for the BUCS national championships, with the A team winning all of their league fixtures en route to qualification.
The C team, who have also being very competitive this year, were unfortunate not to qualify, as they were marginally beaten by Edinburgh University in their respective league. However two members of the C team, Camilla Ramsay and Pip Laverty have both qualified as high scoring individuals. This was a fantastic personal achievement for the two GURC riders and a just reward for their hard work and dedication over the course of the season.
Glasgow have excelled in their competitions across Scotland this season, with the GURC picking up the majority of 1st, 2nd and 3rd individual placings, and in doing so they have consistently had the best scores throughout the leagues on their respective horses. Team Captain and A-team rider Hannah Taylor told Guardian: “I’m ecstatic with the dedication that the teams have shown over the year and their efforts have reflected in the results from every competition!” A sentient which was echoed by Club Captain Victoria Mader-Dunn: “Everyone has done so well and their untiring enthusiasm, dedication and commitment have shown.”
The BUCS Equestrian competition in 2010/11 consisted of 18 leagues in both the Championship and Trophy. To try and ensure that leagues are not rushed at the end of the season, BUCS and the Equestrian Sports Management Group decided to allocate each team, in each league, a window in the calendar in which they had to host one of the league rounds. The new set up for the GURC meant they had to hold their first round before Christmas, with the other rounds being completed in 2011.
The BUCS equestrian programme is unique in equestrianism, as all riders must compete on borrowed horses. This removes a barrier to participation, as students do not need to own a horse. In addition the riders must compete in both dressage and show jumping with the combined scores making up the final result. Teams compete in a series of mini leagues in either the Championship or Trophy with each team hosting one fixture each per season. The winning team from each league automatically qualifies for the regional rounds alongside the best two individuals not from the winning team. Six regional rounds are then held and each of the winning teams plus the three best individuals from each event qualifies for the finals.
The Championship and Trophy finals take place over three days in June. Where each competitor competes in dressage and show jumping, with the highest ranked competitor being crowned the individual champion. The individual rankings are then used to determine who wins the team competition. Team Captain Hannah Taylor, who has recently been appointed as the official SUS equestrian co-ordinator for BUCS, told Guardian: “We are proud to have so many riders qualifying for the regionals, within the recent competing history of GURC, the results achieved over this season have been amongst the best on record for the club”.
The members of the GURC teams qualifying for the regional finals are A team Hannah Taylor, Imogen Carpenter, Claire Herbison and Sarah Fulton, and B team Mark Johnston, Gemma Lord, Franziska Graham and Mhairi McComish, and C team Jordan Carnwath, Camilla Ramsay, Pip Laverty and Aynsely Sharp.
The regionals are being held at Kingsbarn on 30th March for A team (championship league) and 6th April for B/C team (trophy league). There will be a higher standard of riding and a more challenging dressage test and larger jumping round, so it will be a true test of the club’s abilities. Club Captain Victoria told Guardian “I would like to wish all qualifying members the very best of luck and fingers crossed for some more rosettes!”
The GURC have also been rewarded by GUSA for their efforts this year. Both Karen Byars and Club Captain Victoria Mader-Dunn picked up a GUSA Colour at the recent GUSA ball. This is an award presented to individuals who have consistently shown an outstanding level of commitment to university sport. Claire Herbison, a member of the successful A-team, also picked up a Half Blue. A GUSA Blue is the highest individual sporting award presented at Glasgow University, given to the sportsmen or women who have consistently performed in an outstanding manner, excelling at an elite level throughout the previous season.
This is a remarkable achievement for Claire, who on top of her busy study schedule has managed to compete at such a high level for the GURC and in doing so, winning this highly coveted accolade. Claire told Guardian: “This has been a fantastic year for the GURC, I’m proud to win this award on top of getting to the nationals last year, which was a great opportunity, but this year I would love to qualify as a team and share the whole experience with my team mates.” It is all the more impressive when you consider that for one of the more minority sports at the University, the GURC have more than held their own amongst the bigger clubs such as Hockey and Football.
The recreational members of the club (85 in total), have been very active this year with weekly novice to advanced lessons at Tannoch Stables, Ingliston Country Club and Kingsbarn Equestrian Centre. Lessons include dressage and show jumping tuition and all participating riders have improved vastly and worked upon their potential.
To round off the year for the GURC, social convenor Charlotte Slaymark has organised a competition for all recreational riders to show off their newly developed skills through dressage and show jumping classes in a competitive yet friendly setting. Victoria Mader-Dunn, Club Captain, adds: “This year is the first time in the GURC history that a member has been able to organise a competition of this kind and we hope its going to be a roaring success and everyone participating and helping has a great day!“
The awards from GUSA and the success at competitions are testament to the clubs dedication and commitment to their sport, everyone at the GURC can be proud of their achievements over the past year and hopefully this can continue as they strive to reach the BUCS nationals, where they will compete against the best riders in the UK.