12 stars of Christmas — the 18-year-old poised to take on the world

Over the 12 days of Christmas this festive season, we are shining a light on up-and-coming talent across the disciplines. These are people you really need to keep an eye out for in 2019...

It’s becoming more and more competitive at the top end of the British para dressage world, as younger riders start to seriously threaten the more established names. One of the most exciting up-and-coming young riders everyone should have on their radar right now is Izzy Palmer who, at just 18-years-old, has achieved more than many riders could hope for in a lifetime.

Leeds-based Izzy was named as a reserve for both the 2017 European Championships in Gothenburg and the 2018 World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon, and although wasn’t called up you can bet she would have done Britain proud if the team had needed her.

“I never expected to be named as a reserve; its a major highlight for me as a dream of riding at a Europeans, a WEG and one day a Paralympic Games,” says Izzy, who has cerebral palsy.

Having caught the dressage bug aged 11, Izzy was inspired to get classified for para dressage after watching the 2012 Olympics — little did she know that the very horse she had watched take team gold and double individual silver under Britain’s Sophie Wells, Pinocchio, would be the one to really kickstart her career. Under the guidance of her trainer and mentor Sophie, Izzy and Pinocchio amassed seven international wins together before the great horse’s retirement in 2017.

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Izzy has dominated the grade IV para dressage ranks over the past couple of years, becoming national champion in 2017 and winter champion in 2018. Her current top horse is Sophie’s former ride Touchdown M (pictured), by Jazz, and the pair achieved a clean sweep of wins at both Hartpury and Bishop Burton internationals this year, with scores up to 75.4%. They’re also working their way up the levels in able-bodied ranks, having qualified for the regional championships in 2019 at advanced medium level.

As well as targeting the European team in 2019 with Touch, Izzy is also looking forward to campaigning a new ride both nationally and internationally — the exciting seven-year-old Spielberg son Grand Bolero K, whom Sophie Wells has been competing successfully at elementary level this autumn.

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