The European Championships for Juniors (under 18s) and Young Riders (under 21s) is held once a year in different locations around Europe. Each year a squad of up to 6 members are selected for each age group to go and represent GB at these championships.
I have been extremely lucky to have been given the chance to compete at this prestigious event both in 2017 at Millstreet in Ireland, and again this year at Fontainbleau in France. This is aboard my 15 year old New Zealand Thoroughbred gelding, Playtime, known as Smarty at home, who we bought in 2016.
In order to be considered for selection you must be competing in some of the OIu21 trials as well as completing a CCI* trial as this is the same level as the Championships. This year the trials were more limited due to several event abandonments but the selectors asked if we could go to Jardy, in France, to complete a CCI* as this had the same course builder as there would be in Fontainbleau, Pierre Michelet, known for building courses that only 25% of riders are expected to complete without penalties! This is due to his very skinny skinnies and tight lines. At Jardy I finished 5th and Best Brit which earned me a place on the long-list, along-side 8 other riders.
The final trial was at Nunney, again an event with a very tough and influential XC course. With only 5 riders completing the final trial, it was a case of ‘last man standing’ and the selectors decided to only take 5 riders into the European squad; myself, Heidi Coy, Georgia Bartlett, Elicia Miller and Leilia Paske.