Monday, 15 October 2018

Teenager dressage rider bids to compete at 2016 Olympics

A DRESSAGE rider from Turville is aiming to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

A DRESSAGE rider from Turville is aiming to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

Samantha Thurman-Baker, 19, has been the highest-placed British rider at the junior European championships for the last two years.

Her riding has improved dramatically since her mother Diane brought Spring Pascal to the Turville Valley Stud Classical Training Centre that she runs with her sister Angela Fois. The trio have home-trained the 11-year-old Hanoverian stallion to grand prix level.

Samantha has also received lessons from her hero Carl Hester, who won team gold at London 2012, after she was recently re-selected for the British Equestrian Federation’s World Class Development Programme sponsored by UK Sport.

She has now started working at Hester’s Gloucestershire yard and rode one of his former competition horses, Douglas IV, at the Myerscough Premier League in Lancashire last week, where she secured a win and two second places. She will also ride him at next year’s young rider European championships.

Samantha, a former pupil of Gillotts School and The Henley College, says the yard work is hard. “We start at 6.45am with mucking out and general yard duties,” she said. “I then help work the horses and the afternoon is again yard duties as well as putting horses on the walker. It is very full-on but has taught me a lot about not only riding but running such a full yard.”

Samantha and her 14-year-old sister Joanna were introduced to riding at an early age. She was 12 when she progressed to the British dressage test on her pony, Chip.

In 2007, she won the junior derby at the under-25s national championships and the following year was selected for the British junior prime squad for 2009.

In 2011 she competed with Spring Pascal at their first grand prix in Leipzig, finishing eighth out of 30 riders. Samantha was the highest-placed British rider as well as the youngest competitor in the country to be riding at that level.

She also finished 11th in the individual class at the junior European championships in Denmark, where she was named the most stylish and elegant rider. Last year, Samantha won her first big tour.

She said: “It is the highest level of senior dressage and I won both the inter 2 and grand prix classes. On the back of this success I was invited to a senior international where I competed with Olympic riders in the run-up to the London Games.”

In September Samantha was placed fourth in the inter 2 at the national championships. Now, under the watchful eye of mentors in the development programme, she is looking to compete in Rio.

She said: “The aim is for the athletes it helps to win medals for Great Britain.

“To compete in the Olympics is my ultimate goal and would mean everything to me. It is the way to show you are the best at what you do and that is what every athlete aims for.”

Her mother said: “I am very proud of her and she has been given a fantastic opportunity. She has progressed a lot in the last few years and has really moved up.”

Samantha is looking for sponsorship and can be contacted by emailing s-tb@hotmail.co.uk

EVER fancied trying out polo but not had the chance? Lacey Green Polo Club and La Mariposa Polo have teamed up with the Standard to offer a lesson for two, plus two social memberships, with a total value of £250.

First prize in the competition is a one-hour polo experience for two people with one of the fantastic La Mariposa polo professionals, and a chance to spend the day enjoying the beautiful surroundings at the club with your family and friends.

You will also be able to meet the magnificent polo ponies, the professional players and perhaps even watch teams battle it out in a match.

A runner-up will receive a social membership for two people.

No previous riding experience is necessary.

Lacey Green Polo Club is a fun and friendly club set in the Chiltern Hills. It provides polo tuition for all levels of ability, from complete beginners to more advanced players, and caters for all ages.

There are tournaments every weekend, often followed by a traditional Argentine asado with the club members and guests. They even have Mini Mariposa mornings, a concept similar to “own your own pony” for their younger guests, and frequently-run activity days during the summer holidays.

In a special Standard offer, the club is also offering 25 per cent off your first polo lesson when mentioning the Henley Standard and booking before April 12, 2013.

To enter the competition, all you have to do is answer the following question:

Question: What is the name of the range of hills in which the Lacey Green Polo Club is situated?

Send your answer on a postcard, with you name, address and phone number, to Polo Competition, Henley Standard, Caxton House, Station Road, Henley RG91AD. Closing date is Friday, April 5.

* Competition prizes are non-refundable and there is no cash alternative. The winners will be the first two entries selected at random, and winners will be notified by telephone. Normal Standard competition rules apply. The editor’s choice is final. To see the rules, visit www. henleystandard.co.uk/regu lars/competition_rules.php

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