Saracen Young Rider of the Year award 2017

  • These young talents have been selected from all the names put forward by Horse & Hound readers for the Saracen Young Rider of the Year for 2017. The award winner was revealed at the H&H Awards gala dinner at Ascot Racecourse on 2 November.

    *WINNER* Will Furlong,  22

    Sport: eventing

    Biggest achievement: winning the under-25 CCI3* at Bramham in June with Collien P 2 and making his Nations Cup team debut.

    Equestrian inspiration: “Tina Cook. She has consistently produced top-level horses over so many years and she makes the best of the facilities she has at home, which are nothing extravagant. She is always a reliable British rider.”

    Aim for 2018: “I’m hoping to gain qualification for a four-star event next year with my mare Collien P 2. It will be my first four-star — obviously riding at Badminton would be a dream, otherwise I could consider taking her to Luhmühlen.”

    Also on the shortlist:

    Jake Saywell, 21

    Sport: showjumping

    Biggest achievement: winning team gold at the young rider European Championships this summer. It was a rollercoaster championship for Jake, who was on course to claim the individual gold medal, too, before being disqualified for a “slight scratch” on his horse’s flanks. However, the young rider dealt with the disappointment with both maturity and professionalism beyond his years.

    Equestrian inspiration: “Nick Skelton. He’s been an inspiration to everyone and his Rio 2016 Olympic gold medal with Big Star was phenomenal. He told everyone he’d win a gold on that horse and people laughed, then he went and did it — he planned it with complete precision.”

    Aim for 2018: “I have some very good seven-year-olds who I’m excited about and it will be my first year riding in the senior ranks, so I’m hoping to make it onto some Nations Cup teams where I can gain valuable senior team experience.”

    Mia Donaldson, 12

    Sport: showing

    Biggest achievement: winning champion show pony with Whiteleaze Aurora at Royal Windsor this year. The pair went on to win and pick up reserve champion at the 2017 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS).

    Equestrian inspiration: “Charlotte Dujardin. I want to follow in her footsteps into dressage and go to the Olympics. Many of the trophies I have won in showing have Charlotte’s name on them.

    “Also, Alex and Kirsty Ahern — Team Ahern have supported me so much in the three years I have been showing.”

    Aim for 2018: “I want to win at Horse of the Year Show [HOYS]. I want to get into the main arena and go one better than my second place in 2015.

    “I also have a new 13hh pony for next season, who is very exciting, and I will aim to qualify for both the RIHS and HOYS again next year.”

    Ella Hall, 13

    Sport: showjumping

    Biggest achievement: winning both the Stepping Stones 138cm at the British Showjumping National Championships and the Cats & Pipes Debut 138cm title at Scope Festival on her pony Calusa.

    Equestrian inspiration: “Scott Brash. He’s an exceptional rider and works so hard. He’s incredible. I watch and learn from videos of him competing.”

    Aim for 2018: “To progress up the levels and qualify for the winter championships. I also want to ride at Hickstead, which would be the best feeling ever and something I’ve always dreamed of.”

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