World driving teams named

Four-in-hand pony competitors Emily Bennett (pictured) and John Pickford finished well ahead of the rest of the field at Sandringham driving trials, clinching their places on the British team for the Pony World Driving Championships in August.

“I’m very relieved,”said Emily, who has suffered a couple of eliminations this season. “Finally, everything has gone to plan.”

John, who originally planned to drive a pair this season, said: “I’m glad we stuck with the team. We’ve been training hard for this.”

The final selection event for the World Championships, Sandringham attracted a record entry of around 120 competitors. Interest was focused on pony pairs and singles competitions, where the outcome was not foregone.

Georgina Frith, Jo Rennison and Ursula Hirschberg were neck-and-neck for selection in pony pairs, having all gained top placings at previous trials. At the end of the marathon, they were first, second and fourth respectively.

Ursula threw down the gauntlet in the cones with just one down. Jo drove fast and accurately until the final cone fell, giving Georgina one in-hand. But, unusually, this was not enough – with three cones down Georgina dropped to fourth in the competition, while Jo and Ursula secured their championship places.

In single pony, Julie Camm’s team place was secure, providing she finished this event, which she did. A handful of competitors chased the other place, with Sara Howe leading on points at this stage. She won the dressage and stayed in first place after the marathon, hotly challenged by Liz Rowe.

Third-placed Sue Denny’s brilliant double cones clear put the pressure on the leaders and Liz clocked up 10.5pen, dropping down the ranks. Surprisingly, Sara also finished with an 18pen score, but managed to get to third place and gain enough points to secure a team spot.

“My mother wore the Union Jack when she represented Britain in dressage. I’m so pleased to be doing the same,” she said.

Thirteen countries have entered teams for the pony World Championships, which are taking place at Karlstetten, Austria from 14-17 August. They are Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden.

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