As the sun shone down over Warwick on Sunday 2nd October “wannabe knights” travelled back to a more chivalrous age at the home of the UK’s leading Jousting School to compete in their Autumn Amateur Jousting Tournament.
Held at the Warwick International School of Riding, the base of the prestigious Knights of Middle England, these Knights in Training, had been invited to partake in a unique opportunity; to compete in the Amateur Jousting League, putting their skills to the test!
Exactly one year since its conception, ten participants battled it out, at the third tournament, over a series of heats that culminated in a Jousting Finale. The Knights in Training are marked in an ‘X-Factor’ style on their ‘Skills at Arms.’ This consists of three mounted skills – striking the Quintaine, the dreaded man-shaped target; collecting small rings onto their lance whilst riding at speed and spearing a ‘peasant’s head’ off the ground from their steed. Bonus marks were awarded for the chopping of two suspended ‘targets’ from their horse with their cavalry sword. Points were then collated to decide who would take pole-position for the start of the ‘jousting heat’ against an instructor.
Head Instructor Karl Ude-Martinez said of the participants: “They were all very nervous, but keen to do well and score highly to better their league positions. After the ‘Skills at Arms’ section those with the steadiest lance and a well trained eye (and a little bit of luck!), took the lead for the joust which would prove hard to win back.”
However, the competition was not yet won! The ten participants took up their shield and lance, closed the visor down and the battle for that first place began! They were each marked on accuracy, presentation of their lance and shield plus riding technique. For many of them it was the first time they had ridden in front of a large crowd and so the pressure was certainly on.
Instructor Daniela Hope exclaimed: “It was great to see all the continued support for this event and how the league is growing from strength to strength. We were so lucky with the weather and more than 200 people came to watch the trainee knights fight it out. What was fabulous to witness though, was our female knights giving the men a serious run for their money!!”
During the “Joust”, three of the Knights of Middle England instructors scored their sheets and the points added together to give them a winner! It was very tight at the top with only one point between 1st and 2nd place. However, due to an unrivalled joust against the resident Black Knight and fantastic horsemanship skills, Zoe Nelson aka ‘Lady Zoe of Shropshire,’ was crowned the victor of The Knights of Middle England Autumn Amateur Jousting Tournament 2011 and is the first female winner since the league began in 2010.
Second place went to Kevin Hallett, and third place to Justin Finning who was competing in the Tournament for the very first time.
Archery, pony rides, hog roast and bar and a very welcome ice-cream van, were on offer throughout the day, with contributions from these helping to raise more than £700 for “Help for Heroes”. The day ended with a fantastic and very entertaining show from The Knights of Middle England Team themselves!