By Kieran Murphy
BORRIS Vocational School were crowned dual winners at the prestigious British National Senior Schools Jumping Championships which took place at the Longines International Arena in Hickstead on Thursday.
Patrick Doyle (Boley Boy), Aoife Murphy (Garrynadruig Turbo), Catherine Kavanagh (Coppenagh Blitz) and Claire Kavanagh (Clonagoose Daniel Dubh) took first place in the senior competition while Aoife Murphy won the individual award.
Having won the Irish National Championships in April, the Borris team were invited to compete in the prestigious event in England alongside 29 other schools from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The riders took part in the first round with the top 10 teams qualifying for a jump-off in the main arena. Borris VS were comfortable qualifiers and with three scores to count Doyle, Murphy and Claire Kavanagh all went clear ahead of Wellington College, Berkshire and Millfield School, Somerset who registered eight faults each.
With the team award secured, the trio were in bonus territory as they entered an individual jump-off against the clock. It was tight with the riders looking to shave fractions from previous times.
Aoife Murphy was supreme when clocking 37.25 seconds to take the senior schools individual title just ahead of home favourite George Laing of Hurstpierpoint, who recorded 37.48. Kavanagh and Doyle had one and two fences down respectively in times of 37.93 and 37.15.
The Hurst College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships were first held in 1964. Since then thousands of young riders have come to Hickstead each summer, hoping to qualify to jump at the iconic the Longines International Arena.
Borris Vocational School also brought a junior team of Aine Kavanagh, Mosie Murphy, Tess Staunton and Caoilfhionn Lawlor to the championships and they qualified for the jump-off finishing in a commendable eighth place.
Father of Claire and Catherine, James Kavanagh travelled with the teams and acted in the capacity of Chef d’Equipe for the riders. He says all the riders have worked hard to get to where they are.
“There is a good crew around now and we have been building numbers over the last few years,” he explained.
“The season started last September and they have jumped through 20 weekends over the year.”
He went on to thank the help the team have received from sponsors, parents, the school and many more.
“We have had huge support. They know who they are themselves and without them the teams wouldn’t have been able to achieve what they have done,” he said.