A nine-year-old girl from the Vale of Clwyd over-ruled her mum to book a place at show-jumping’s blue riband event, the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead this summer.
Georgia Hogan, from Trefnant, a pupil at Myddelton College, Denbigh, produced a flawless final round in the Winter Qualifier at South View Equestrian Centre, near Winsford, to earn a trip to the sport’s ‘headquarters’.
She was one of only two riders to go clear in the first two rounds of the competition but that wasn’t enough for four-foot-tall Georgia, barely higher than the fences she and her 20-year-old mare Darth Moll were jumping.
Mum Ruth admits that having jumped perfectly at one metre 10 and one metre 15 in the first two rounds, she didn’t want Georgia to tackle the daunting 1.20 metre fences again in the final round.
But that sparked a disagreement: “I told her she didn’t have to jump again as she had already qualified,” said Ruth.
“She was one of only two to go clear, the other was Nya Harriman, from Cleveland, and as Georgia had already qualified for Hickstead I told her to leave it on a good note but she was begging me to let her carry on.
“In the end the Frank in the commentary box radioed through to the judges and told them, ‘The child has overruled her mother and is jumping the third round’.
“As she’s only nine the whole arena was behind her and there was a phenomenal atmosphere.
“She went out to prove her mother wrong – and she did.”
The Year Five pupil at Myddelton College’s prep school, went clear again and when Nya brought one of her fences down Georgia won with three flawless rounds.
The youngster is also a member of the school show-jumping team, along with big brother and sister Thomas and Sophia, and Darcie Owen-Morrell, from Ruthin, who next compete on March 13 at the County and Hickstead Elite Qualifier at South View.
A delighted Georgia said: “I felt pretty confident in the ring. I’m looking forward to taking her to Hickstead.
“When my brother jumped there, someone said to me, ‘You’ll be here in a few years’ time’ and now I’m going.”
Headmaster Andrew Allman said: “It’s an absolutely brilliant achievement by Georgia because Hickstead is the absolute home of British show-jumping and to be there and competing at nine-years-old is amazing and something she’ll never forget.
“We pride ourselves at Myddelton on providing a well-rounded education for all our students is that while academic excellence is very important it is not the only thing a school should provide.
“We believe that we shouldn’t just be an exam factory and that it is also important that our students receive a well-rounded education with a breadth of opportunities, indoors and outdoors.”
The equestrian centre, originally opened by Princess Anne in 2006 on a visit to the then Howell’s School, was given a £30,000 refurbishment 18 months ago and now has stabling for up to 10 horses and ponies.
There are also two 20-foot by 40-foot all-weather arenas and a ten-acre field and easy access to a network of bridle paths in the surrounding Vale of Clwyd countryside.
The school can also organise specialist training for riding for all levels of abilities including taster sessions for novice riders.
Ruth Hogan, a former Welsh junior international show-jumper herself, said: “The school have been brilliant and the Equestrian Centre they have there is the best school facility of its kind in North Wales.
“For the children being able to train there a couple of times a week and even to stable their horses and ponies there is hugely beneficial to those coming through the equestrian world.
“The school have two teams competing regularly and as well as those going to the National Championships the other riders, Ruby and Maddie O’Brien, from Rhyl, Georgia Garnett-Hughes, from Prestatyn, and Daisy and Isabella Stone, from Ruthin, and Eleri Hughes, from Holywell, are all at a very high standard.”
Myddelton College, a co-educational day and boarding school, was the UK’s newest independent school when it opened in the autumn of 2016 and is the only school in North Wales with a 5G network.
The school currently has 280 pupils, 75 of them boarders and 70 staff, 35 of them teachers and Mr Allman added: “The school has integrated into the local community very well and we have formed sporting partnerships with a number of local clubs.
“We want to provide to well-rounded education and give all our pupils a breadth of opportunities, indoors and outdoors including the chance to work with and form bonds with people and countries all over the world.”