A team of British endurance riders returned from South Africa yesterday with a bronze medal from the first South Africa International FEI Challenge.

The six riders — Tricia Hirst, Nicky Sherry (pictured), Abi Taylor, Rachael Claridge (pictured), Sophie O’Hara-Smith and Helen Perry — were picked to take part in the 120km endurance race near Beaufort West.

The team were on borrowed South African horses, which they were given just two days to become familiar with before the event began.

This was the first time that any teams outside of Southern Africa had been invited to compete in the challenge. Hosted by the Western Province Endurance Union, the event was the largest ever held in South Africa, with some 310 horses taking part.

And the race lived up to its challenging name.

Tricia Hirst said: “The first 40km loop was ridden in the dark across semi-desert terrain.

“The course itself was very technical requiring good riding skills.”

The team worked together the whole time, and as a result all 6 of their horses finished successfully within 10 minutes of each other at a speed of just under 17kph.

This rewarded the team with the bronze medal, behind Namibia in first and France in second place.