Riders qualify for prestige tournament

Harry Hibbert and Justine Cookson with Oscar.
Harry Hibbert and Justine Cookson with Oscar.

Horse riders from Batley and Birstall have qualified to take part in a major show tournament.

Rebecca Walker, Justine Cookson and Kayleigh Smith will saddle up at the Longines Royal International Horse Show in Hickstead in West Sussex, which takes place between July 27-31.

The trio qualified after impressing judges with horses Stormhill Mink, 23, Apache Chazka, six, and Mr Oscar Cookson, five, at competitions in Hambleton and Richmond on May 30 and June 1.

Rebecca, 43, of Upper Batley, said: “The Royal International Horse Show a massive, prestigious event.”

It was the first time that Kayleigh, 16, and Justine, who is in her forties, qualified for the event.

“To get two qualify in the same week on their first attempt is just amazing for them,” Rebecca said.

“When Kayleigh qualified in Hambleton there was just this scream across the showground.

“They were crying and absolutely overwhelmed.

“The partnership between Kayleigh and Oscar is beautiful to watch.”

The pony is owned by Harry Hibbert, who will ride his father Stormhill Mink on behalf of Rebecca at Hickstead.

Rebecca, who is trained alongside her friends by Emma Smithson in Scotchman Lane, were together for Yorkshire Building Society worker Justine’s big day in Richmond.

“It was one of those magical moments,” she said.

Stormhill Mink and Apache Chazka will be entered into the coloured horses championship and Oscar will be included in the Show Hunter Pony round.

The horses and riders are judged at the competition on how well-controlled and mannered they are.

Rebecca will also aim to qualify for the Senior Showing and Dressage finals with ‘Storm’ at the Olympia Horse Show in London.