Posted on Friday, March 29, 2019 by Sasha Melia
Amateur and novice competitors come to the Sunshine Tour Championships for many reasons. Obviously, competing at The All England Jumping Course, Hickstead is a dream come true, but many just come for the camping, camaraderie, having fun with friends and family.
Newbies and Regulars
Some competitors are new to the sport, some build confidence and springboard into affiliated and some come year after year. Anne Coombs from Berkshire says “We have attended Sunshine Tour for three years running now. It’s an amazing competition, we can’t wait for September!” Anne brings her horse, 16.3hh, 11-year-old part-Fresian, Carbonado Joe, and she’s super excited to be “back on board properly now having recovered from two operations” and looking forward to taking part in 70cm & 80cm show jumping and eventer’s challenges.
Anne even came to the Sunshine Tour during her enforced riding break, with her best friend Melanie Widdows nominated to take the ride on Joe. “To me, it wouldn’t matter if I was riding or not, being at Sunshine Tour is great, so much competition going on, fellow competitors are friendly, Hickstead is amazing, it’s well organised, the courses are well built with great jump offs, and most of all the emphasis is on FUN! Even the parking staff greet us with a smile, which makes a huge difference if you’ve had a long journey and are feeling tired or apprehensive. It is just a great Championship with lovely atmosphere, old and young, beginners and experienced, it’s a great range! Quite simply, it’s a fabulous break away to finish the season off in style and reflect on the year.”
Hickstead and Beyond
Jo McKeown’s road to Hickstead started with 16.2hh warmblood ‘Amigo’ 4 years ago, competing in dressage at Prelim level. “When I was a child, we had no money for horses so I used to beg and borrow a ride wherever I could. I never thought that I could own such a special horse, but I landed on my feet when my Dad bought him for me. Coming from a show jumping background, asking him to do dressage was quite a major task, he was a powerhouse of flying changes not needed at the level of dressage that we entered!!” With hard work and dedication, Jo and Amigo progressed and were delighted to be placed 3rd in the Elementary Championships at the 2018 Sunshine Tour.
“Amigo and I are on our way to the PetPlan Championships with British Dressage this year, it means such an awful lot to us as we never anticipated even becoming affiliated with BD. We had such a fantastic experience with the Sunshine Tour giving us the passion to keep going, to train hard and it all pays off. The Sunshine Tour is such a special place, it is just the most friendly and wonderful show and so many different disciplines come together and people from all over the place meet up, I can honestly say I’ve made friends that I will keep for life that I’ve met on my weekends away at Hickstead during the Sunshine Tour. We wish all the riders and handlers the best of luck this year, enjoy, embrace and have a wonderful time. I will be coming along to support friends as I just love the atmosphere, such a great weekend away!”
It Could Be You …..What’s Your Champion Like?
Champions come in all shapes and sizes, types, breeds and colours. Of course, your own beloved horse or pony is already a champion, well under all that mud they are! Whether yours is small and scruffy or big and beautiful you have the chance to take part in a championship at the UK most prestigious venue, The All England Jumping Course at Hickstead. In 2019 there will be lots of excited competitors making their pilgrimage to the ‘hallowed turf’ from 12th to 15th September for fun, camping, laughs, nerves, triumphs, tears and maybe some Sunshine Tour glory. With 1,800 iconic rosettes to give away, 250 sashes and over 60 branded rugs for championships if you would like to find out how you can take part and get on the Road to Hickstead, see www.sunshinetour.co.uk