RDA’s first ever Virtual National Championships, presented by Oliver Wight Eame LLP, has attracted viewers from around the world, as the RDA family came together for a weekend of fierce competition and fun. Livestreamed over the RDA website, Facebook and YouTube channels, the event has not only enabled more riders to take part – it encouraged more visitors too, with over 4000 views on YouTube alone.
Mirroring the ‘real event’, usually held at Hartpury College in July, the packed two-day programme featured 54 classes in Dressage, Carriage Driving, Showjumping, Endurance, Showing, Musical Ride & Drive and Vaulting as well as RDA favourites, the Countryside Challenge and Arts & Crafts.
Adding their flair and expertise to the proceedings, broadcasters Jenny Rudall and Ken Burgin and Eventer Simon Grieve were in the commentary box. Reading out messages of support from friends and families and interacting with viewers throughout, the commentators brought the live stream to life, capturing the spirit of friendly competition that is the trademark of the annual event.
The top 6 placed competitors in each class were shown in the livestream. Class Champions are shown below, with the full results across both days available here: rda.org.uk/rda-virtual-national-championships/
|Grade 1||Elan Haf Williams||WSH Something Borrowed||Ynys Mon|
|Grade 2||Pamela Johnston||Thumper||Ravelrig|
|Grade 3||Sharon Kelsall||Summer||Cornilo|
|Grade 4||Lisa Griffin||First Class IX||Cleethorpes & Grimsby|
|Grade 5||Sarah Hannaford||Izzy’s Star||Saxon|
|Grade 1-6 Walk||Sally Davies||The Scout||Ride2achieve|
|ID Walk Only||Rhiannon Bone||Taffy||Epsom|
|ID Walk & Trot||Erin Bowles||Rocky||Wenlo|
|Led Walk Only||Joe Lawrence||Criminal Girl||South Bucks|
|Partially VI Walk Only||Isobelle Hardy||Clancy||Wenlo|
|Partially VI Walk & Trot||Alison Thomas||Dunran Molly||Bridgend county RDA group|
|Totally VI Canter||Neve Mclennan||Stefania||North Cornwall|
|Partially VI Canter||Janet Alderton||Cobson’s Choice||Ride2achieve|
|Grade 1-6 Walk & Trot||Julie McKerracher||Jake||Glasgow Group|
|Grade 1-6 Canter||Freya Smith||Forrests Snowcloud||Nantwich and District|
|ID Canter||Aiden Baker||Otto||Middleton Park Equestrian Centre|
|Led Walk & Trot||Mair Preece||Tippler||Vale of Glamorgan RDA|
|Led with Sidewalker||Tom Dawson||Llanyfelin Seastorm||Belvoir Vale RDA|
|Led or with 1 Sidewalker||Allanah Haker||Llanyfelin Seastorm||Belvoir Vale RDA|
|VI Led with 1 Sidewalker||Destiny Storr||Archie||Welburn Hall School|
|VI Led or 1 Sidewalker||Freya Carr-wright||Baz||Morpeth RDA|
|VI Independent||Kirsty Laing||Clancy||Wenlo RDA|
|Independent||Jenny Round||Ardenteggle Touch Down (Teg)||Lowlands Farm RDA|
|Level 2||Caitlin Bruzzese||Charlie||Throstle Nest RDA|
|Level 2||Lizzie Bennett||Hamish||Cambridgeshire College RDA|
|Level 3||Lily Hancock||Pye||North Cornwall|
|Level 4||Eleanor Halton||Angel||Erme Valley RDA|
While the ‘real’ Championships will remain a firm and much-loved fixture in the RDA calendar, the virtual event has proved beneficial to many. The event attracted 96 groups and 350 competitors from all over the UK, who could film tests in their home arena without the costs and logistical challenges of travel.
The entry window also allowed multiple riders to take part on the same pony, and removed the need for borrowing horses, so everyone could take part on a familiar mount. For some, this had the knock-on benefit of allowing them to compete in a more challenging class than they might have attempted in an unfamiliar arena, or even on a borrowed pony.
The live stream opened up the event to visitors from anywhere, with comments coming in from Dubai, Australia, India and Canada.
‘Commentator’s Choice’ Award – Tic Toc is “one in a million”
When comments started flooding in for Erme Valley RDA pony ‘Tic Toc’, Sunday’s commentary team of Jenny Rudall and Simon Grieve suggested a special award for the popular skewbald. ‘Commentator’s Choice’ winner, Tic Toc partnered with several riders throughout the weekend, helping to secure four 2nd second place rosettes in Showjumping, Dressage and Showing, and two 3rd places for Dressage.
With most ponies and horses making several appearances in different classes throughout the weekend, the event highlighted the extraordinary versatility of RDA equines like Tic Toc. “He’s one in a million,” said owner and Erme Valley Coach Peggy Douglas. “He’s a gorgeous chap to be around and very versatile – he’ll do whatever you ask of him.” While the Virtual Championships was taking place, Tic Toc was demonstrating his strengths in ‘real life’ at the South West BD Inter Counties Competition, securing 5th place in the Novice Class for Peggy’s son.
Fiona Harris, Championships Secretary: “I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone that has made this weekend possible. Riders and groups for entering, my colleagues in the office that have helped add up all 400 score sheets, Impact Media for pulling this altogether and to Jenny and Simon for the best commentary. My planning for 2022 starts tomorrow!”
Karen Thompson, RDA National Training & Education Lead: “This virtual champs has been such an eye opener on the diversity and breadth within RDA of venues, horsepower and riders’ talents.”
Julie McKerracher, winner of the Grade 1-6 Walk & Trot Dressage: “Oh wow! I wasn’t expecting that! Special thanks to my coaches – I couldn’t have do it without you, thank you so much.”
Caroline Twemlow, RDA Coach Developer: “I have dipped in and out of the Championships all weekend and am loving the coverage. Huge thanks to the commentators who have added such knowledgeable and encouraging remarks – your input is much appreciated. See you at Hartpury next year????”
Zoe House: “Cake and carrots all round. What a fantastic weekend of riding from everyone with all styles, abilities and disciplines being showcased.”
Lucy Murphy: “Congratulations to all the riders. have never managed to make it to the finals in real life so is fab to be able to watch from home.”
Rhone Scott, RDA Regional Treasurer, West & Central Scotland: “Some beautifully turned out horses and ponies…a real credit to all the groups! Brilliant riding from all the competitors…and a shout out to all the coaches, leaders and side walkers, who helped all the riders make it to the championships! Well done everyone!”
The Presenting Partner for The RDA Virtual National Championships was Oliver Wight EAME LLP. The organisers are also grateful to the following for their support as Championships Partners: the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Childs Farm (Vaulting and Musical Ride & Drive), The Trefoil Guild (Countryside Challenge), Hartpury University and College (Showjumping), Godolphin (Dressage), JM Finn (Endurance) and LifeWithArt (Arts & Crafts).