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Local event rider comes first at Alnwick Ford


By Jean Gunn

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Local event rider Emma Coghill, of East Clyth, has enjoyed a great season with a recent trip to Northumberland being the icing on the cake after a win in the novice section.

Despite a late start to the calendar due to Covid-19 the local rider, who is studying for a PhD with the University of the Highlands and Islands, has been able to travel south of the border to get a few British Events (BE) in.

"It was a great achievement to win at an event so far from home – very unexpected," Emma (24) said.

"We arrived at the event not expecting much due to the extremely windy conditions. The dressage arenas were placed right beside the road for the vehicles entering and exiting which I thought would be a huge distraction.

"However, all the training I do right beside the main road at home and in our often very extreme weather conditions turned out to be an advantage for us.

Emma went on: "Once I had completed my cross-country it was announced that I had gone into the lead. However, I had gone quite early in my section so I didn’t think I would stay there for long.

"Due to the current restrictions we have to leave as soon as we are finished competing so the new live scoring system allows us to keep an eye on our results once we have left.

"At the previous two events I had started lower in the live results and managed to work my way up the leaderboard – to fourth at Warwick Hall and second at Forgandenny – but at Alnwick I was certain I was going to work my way down this time. Luckily this wasn’t the case."

Over the last two seasons competing her own horse Rainbow's Little Rock, an eight-year-old 15.2hh bay gelding, she has gained too many points to continue at novice level. The duo have currently chalked up 21 points on their BE record.

"I would love to move up to intermediate level," Emma said. "However, events at this level in Scotland are sparse with only about two running. Next year we may have to make more trips to England, travelling even further south, which without any sponsorship may not be viable.

"I hope that with the great results we have been having, and with the vast number of miles we are covering, companies may see a great sponsorship opportunity."

Emma had a double clear at Alnwick Ford, finishing on her dressage score of 32.5, just 0.3 points ahead of the second and third-placed riders. She travels to all the events with her mum Maureen, who doubles as the lorry driver and groom.

Another rider with a Caithness connection had a win at the same event, Emily Macfarlane came first in the BE100 section C, finishing on her dressage score of 24.5.

Emily's mum Yvonne Macfarlane (née Kerr) is a riding instructor who started her career with horses through the Caithness Pony Club.

Olympic medallist Ian Stark, who has coached in Caithness, is back on the eventing scene and has been competing in the same class as Emma at the last few outings with his horse Bowler Bill.

Emma will be taking part at Kirriemuir today (Saturday), the last event in the Scottish BE calendar, and only the second to go ahead north of the border this season.



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