Jessica helps Buccleuch riders to Scottish first

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TEENAGER Jessica Friell played a starring role to help the Duke of Buccleuch Pony Club secure a top national title.

The 15-year-old high school pupil, from Roberton, joined team-mates from Kelso, Earlston and Melrose at the Pony Club Novice Championships in Cheshire.

On board her horse Harry, a nine-year-old 15.2 hh grey gelding, which she has ridden for the past three years, Jessica and her fellow Borderers beat off strong competition from 45 other qualifiers from all over England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in an exciting five-team jump-off to lift the National Novice Team Show Jumping trophy – a first for Scotland.

The girls and their ponies jumped three rounds on the Saturday.

After the first round they were one of only a few teams to finish on zero penalties.

They then moved to another show jumping arena to tackle a course of one-metre jumps, again on undulating ground, and this time against the clock.

Despite the wet conditions, the Buccleuch girls rode brilliantly and finished with a total score of just four penalties, putting them into the jump-off against the four other teams.

And with one fence down and the fastest combined time, the title was theirs.

Jessica said: “Because we often have to practice jumping on grass and not always on the flat, this stood us in good stead on the day, as the conditions were wet and undulating, very much like the Borders.”

The group would like to thank local trainers Cindy Onslow from Roberton, and Emily Galbraith from Ancrum, for their help with the girls and their ponies.