‘Beyond my wildest dreams’: British university student lines up alongside Harry Charles and Ben Maher for World Cup debut

  • “This is what I’ve been dreaming of,” says young British showjumper Antonia Platt, who has just returned from making her five-star debut at the prestigious Jumping Verona show in Italy.

    Not only did the 22-year-old rising star line up against the likes of world number one Henrik von Eckermann and European champion Steve Guerdat for some top tier competitions, but she qualified for her first ever World Cup class, coming home with a very creditable 12 faults on horse of a lifetime Marvin Van De Waterhoeve.

    This is a fantastic achievement for a 22-year-old, who is also studying agriculture at Nottingham University and ranked 1,624 in the world. No wonder she’s still on cloud nine.

    “It was my first five-star and first World Cup so a double whammy actually,” Antonia told H&H. “I’ve been working with Matteo Guinti, who is part of the CT [Cavalleria Toscana] Academy and it was through them that I got offered the chance to compete at a five-star, in Verona. So I’ve been looking forward to it and working towards it for months!”

    Antonia says she felt a bit apprehensive, but was made to feel very welcome by her fellow riders.

    “I was a bit worried I was going to get there and feel like an imposter but I didn’t at all, everyone was so nice,” she says. “I was so excited to be there.

    “They put all the Brits together, so I was stabled next to Ben Maher and Harry Charles, so that put it all into perspective! What more could you want?”

    Coming home with 12 faults in Sunday’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup of Verona presented by Scuderia 1918, behind winner Ben Maher, is a result to be proud of and she says her 12-year-old Marvin (Falco x Game Boy) gave her an “unbelievable feeling”.

    “We’ve had him since he was nine and I’ve always said he’s a five-star horse, but I’m not that experienced – we don’t really have enough horsepower to get the ranking points, so I haven’t really had these kind of opportunities up to now,” explains Antonia. “It’s taken time to get to this point, even though I’ve grabbed every opportunity available to me. But I’ve always believed in him.

    “So although we didn’t have a winning weekend, he tried his heart out and proved he could do it and he has all the potential to become a proper five-star horse.”

    Antonia Platt: “A learning curve for both of us”

    Antonia says of Marvin: “He has the odd quirk, but we have a very special bond.

    “He’s incredibly special to us. It was a learning curve for both of us and he made a few green mistakes in the World Cup, but at the start of the year I said to my mum that I wanted to jump a World Cup qualifier, but I never imagined I would qualify for a World Cup at my first five-star.”

    Marvin is now set to enjoy a well-deserved holiday after a summer of great results including placings at the CSI2* Longines Global Champions Tour of London and victory in the under-25 grand prix at Royal Windsor Horse Show.

    “I’d love to get to some more of these big shows now – it’s literally what I dream of,” says Antonia, who was previously on young rider teams. “Marvin has been amazing though.

    “We’ve got a few younger horses, but like everyone we’re just really desperate for some more horsepower. But I’ll focus on the young ones over the winter and take them to MET in January.”

    About juggling her studies with top flight showjumping, Antonia says: “I just have to say to myself that anything is possible and I make time for it all. I am very lucky to have such a good team at home though, so I can take some time out to concentrate just on my work, rather than trying to juggle it all.

    “Right now, this is beyond my wildest dreams – I’ve always believed I could do it, but for it all to come to reality so soon is just amazing.”

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