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Road to Olympia: Shetland to make 1,200 mile round trip to compete at Christmas finale…

Competing in the centre of London just a few days before Christmas is a strange feeling for most country equestrians, but one competitor and her pint-sized Shetland will be making an extra long and testing journey to the big smoke this December.

Katrina Byrne and her 18-year-old gelding Cumbliebank Justory (Tory) will be making a 1,200 round trip from Aberdeen to the Olympia Horse Show for the SSADL (Senior Showing and Dressage Ltd) veteran final.

“It has taken quite a bit of planning,” said Katrina. “We are setting off on Monday 17 December and plan to return home on Sunday 23 December, just in time for Christmas. We will be splitting the journey into three legs with an overnight stop on Monday and a second stop further south on the Tuesday, before making the shorter and final journey to arrive at Olympia on Wednesday.

“Then all the focus will be on the final preparations for the SSADL championship on Thursday morning. We will make a short journey on the Thursday afternoon, where he will have a few days rest before starting the journey home. His stable mate will be making most of the journey with us for company for him.”

Tory was bred on Orkney Island, off the north coast of Scotland by Mr and Mrs Flett.

Katrina continued: “His previous owners approached me in 2011 as they believed he was wasted with them. I jumped at the opportunity to purchase him and we haven’t looked back.

“He wasn’t gelded until he was five-years-old so has even more ‘character’ than most Shetlands and is a real yard favourite.

“In 2017 he made his debut as a senior in the show ring and went on to take the SSADL Scottish in-hand championship title. He also stood reserve champion and the highest place in-hand pony at the Olympia qualifier last year missing out on the ticket by one mark. He was also crowned reserve veteran of the year for 2017 at the Scottish Equestrian Awards.

“Tory qualified for the first rounds at Brechin castle in Scotland on his first outing of 2018. The second round was a journey south to Cumberland County Show in England where he won his class, took the championship and claimed the ultimate prize of the Olympia ticket.

“Although having only competed at four shows this year, he has had the most amazing season and we could not think of any better way to end it. It’s a proud moment for all of us on the yard in the north of Scotland.”

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