A team of Royal Air Force personnel recently took the title of Inter-Service Equitation Champions, defeating the Army and the Navy for the second year in a row.
The RAF team, made up of eight riders, went to Southampton to compete for the Loriners Trophy at the grand finale of this year’s Inter-Service dressage and show jumping competition.
The contest began with both the Army and the RAF on equal points and in joint first place following two earlier competitions. This event would decide the Inter-Service victor and the winner of the Loriners Trophy.
On the first day everyone performed well with Wing Commander Jane Austin and Wing Commander Dawn Elson picking up individual prizes in both show jumping and dressage, and Flight Lieutenant Caitlin Wroe winning one of the dressage classes.
As the majority of the RAF squad had limited experience in dressage and with the Inter-Services title up for grabs, the Chef d’Equipe, Wg Cdr Austin, considered the tactics required and decided to lend her second horse to Wg Cdr Elson for the next day’s events so that the RAF could make up a competitive team for the Loriners leg.
Thus, the four riders selected for the Inter-Service element and the Loriners team were Wg Cdr Austin, Wg Cdr Elson, Flight Lieutenant Wroe and Master Aircrewman Simon Allen. He said:
I was very pleased to be selected to represent the RAF in the Inter-Services - although I have been on the squad for several years, this is the first time that I have been chosen to compete as one of the team for the Loriners competition so I had everything to prove.
The second day of the competition saw the novice class riders do well, with Corporal Marnie Long achieving fourth place in her show jumping class. But with the Inter-Services title all to play for the pressure was on for the Loriners team and the atmosphere was tense in the dressage arena.
Unperturbed by last minute rule clarifications, the riders managed to keep their concentration and delivered very good results. Indeed, Flt Lt Wroe once again won the dressage element and Wg Cdr Austin was individually placed, so the RAF was in the lead with only the jumping phase to go.
Following their success in the dressage events the pressure was now even more intense as they needed to ride clear rounds to ensure victory. Amazingly, Wg Cdr Austin, Wg Cdr Elson and Flt Lt Wroe all went clear and Master Aircrewman Allen knocked just one fence down.
All the riders were individually placed in the jumping phase and, more importantly, they had won the final leg of the Inter-Services competition, taking the Loriners Trophy and giving the RAF the Inter-Service Equitation Champions title once again. Wg Cdr Elson said:
We are all thrilled to have retained the Inter-Services title and this just proves that our squad has great depth as we have fielded some different riders in every phase of the competition this year and still managed to win. I hope that we can maintain our winning form in future events.