Blighty rider wins national title

By Daniel Hughes

After a brilliant performance at the Australian Interschools Championships, a Blighty teenager has been crowned one of Australia’s best horse riders.

Sophie Griffiths, 15, riding Margherite (Daisy), was named on the National Champion Combined Training Team.

Sophie was also an Individual National Reserve Champion in the secondary 80cm Combined Training.

‘‘It means the world to me that l have achieved this on a horse l educated myself,’’ Sophie said.

‘‘It has not been an easy road and l have worked very hard.’’

The team places are determined by taking the four highest placed riders from each state.

The combined points of all four riders make the team score, which saw the Victorian team finish first, followed by Queensland and NSW.

Caitlin Griffiths, 13, riding Rhyl Georgette, set her goals high for the competition and succeeded, coming 10th overall in the Intermediate Preliminary dressage from 21 combinations.

The youngest of the Griffiths sisters, 11 year-old Bianca, riding Glyndower Brea Galahad, finished eighth in the Primary 45cm Combined Training in a strong field.

The girls’ mother, Tammy Griffiths, explained that although not all of her daughters finished at the top of their fields, they were still all able to support each other.

“When you have three children riding you will rarely have all of them at the top at the same time,” she said.

“I love their resilience and support of each other; it makes all of the hard work worthwhile when they can enjoy each other’s success.’’

The three siblings also took this chance in Sydney to enjoy their holidays out of school term, exploring the venue, socialising and supporting the other competitors.

“I enjoyed watching the 1.2m showjumping classes where there was lots of action,” Caitlin said.

“It was fun cheering on my friends from all the different states and exploring the venue; it is huge.

“Being in the audience at the television series filming of the Australian Jumping Teams League and the Jump Off series, plus exploring with my friends was fun as well,” Bianca said.

‘‘Meeting the New Zealand team that were competing at our event, watching their reactions to the first time they saw a snake and getting one of their Kiwi English lessons was very funny,” Sophie added.

“We also rode out and looked around the Olympic cross country jumps, they were huge.”

The three sisters said they enjoy every minute they spend together on the road and truly make it a team effort.

“We have a lot of fun on horse trips, singing and mucking around in the truck,” Sophie said.

‘‘There’s no better support crew than your family. In the ring I look out and know they are there.

“They help me a lot, Caitlin will warm my horse up with me, telling me what to do it, while Sophie plaits my horses and she helps me saddle and get ready when mum cannot be there,” Bianca added.