Over this festive season, we are shining a light on up-and-coming talent across the equestrian disciplines. These are riders you really need to keep an eye out for during the 2021 season...
Until 18 months ago, Jessica Burke was working as a maths teacher in Galway. But after deciding to take a career break and with a year of international competition experience under her belt, the 28-year-old is one of Ireland’s rising stars and bidding to represent her country on Nations Cups teams next year.
“I’d also like to win some three- or four-star grands prix,” said Jessica, who won her first two-star international grand prix in Belgium in October riding Liam Nicholas’s 10-year-old Express Trend — a moment she describes as a “real milestone”.
Jessica left Ireland last year and is now based at Arion Stud in Hampshire where she is producing an enviable string of horses for owner Louisa Church.
“I look back at this year and think ‘Wow’ — it’s been a difficult time for so many people so I feel really lucky to have achieved so much in my own career,” says Jessica, who was also a successful rider on ponies before completing her studies at university in Galway and embarking on a career as a maths teacher.
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As well as top horse Express Trend (Future Trend x Condios), who Liam Nicholas also bred, Jessica has high hopes for the promising nine-year-old African Affair, a new purchase for Jessica’s boss Louisa and a recent podium finisher in a one-star grand prix in Spain. Also on many people’s radar as one to watch is the six-year-old Ashdale Divine, who won the title at the All England Championships at Hickstead this year and looks another very good prospect.
“My big goals are five-star shows, Nations Cups, competing in the internationals in Dublin and the Aga Khan,” adds Jessica, who made her debut at Dublin last year on the back of a successful national season.
Expect Jessica to make a big impression in 2021.
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