Riders showcase Cayman talent

The success of two junior riders highlights the positive strides seen in local equestrian.

Thea Millward, 13, and Polly Serpell, 14, claimed first place at this month’s Cayman leg of the Caribbean Equestrian Association’s 2012 Junior Show Jumping competition. Overseen by the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation, action took place at the Cayman Islands Equestrian Centre in George Town.

Federation president Jane van der Bol states they are proof of Cayman’s continued excellence.

“Year after year you can see that Cayman is improving,” van der Bol said. “All the competitions from dressage to the jumping and the Children of the Americas Dressage Invitational held just outside of Boston; every show, every year, we show improvement.

“We are starting to compete on an international level and showing that Cayman is a country to watch out for in the junior division. Even this year, for the first time in Cayman’s equestrian history, our very own Jessica McTaggart showed at the Pan Am Games that we are improving.”

Millward had only 12 faults during the event in the 14 and Under category with a competition-best time of 47.93 seconds. Serpell had six faults with her best mark being 49.89s in the 16U section. The duo were coached by Mary McTaggart, who designed the show jumping course with help from daughters Jessica and Jodie McTaggart.

Van der Bol, who was an announcer for the event, states both girls showed exceptional form.

“Thea is our 14U super rider. She is in control and pacing herself nicely in the ring. Polly is showing her true colours right now and doing a fabulous job in riding a much larger horse over higher jumps. She is really starting to shine in the jumping show ring.”

Both Millward and Serpell rode four rounds, split over two days, on various horses. As a result of their efforts, Cayman earned five points and moved into first place overall.

They moved past Barbados, who initially had the lead after winning the first leg. The Bajan team of Amanda Roachford Holder, Erin Stephany and team manager Diana Clarke would place last out of the four countries with 93 faults.

Jamaica was third with 47 faults behind Sayan Johnston, Leslie Anne Hamilton and manager Susan Wates. Trinidad and Tobago placed second with 21 faults as Amber Thompson, Mariel Lanser and Patrice Stohlmeyer were the country representatives. Trina De Lisser of Jamaica served as the event judge.

As a result, van der Bol states Cayman is in good position to earn more praise this year.

“Cayman is looking very strong and is in a good position. We came second in Barbados, first in Cayman and this places us in first place overall for the year so far. We have two more competitions for the junior jumping competition in Trinidad this September and in Jamaica this December.

“We actually had a dressage show over the weekend on a local level and then in August, riders will go to Boston to compete against 12-14 countries in dressage. Our goal is to continue to bring in qualified trainers to prepare our children and adults for international competition while our local riding schools continue to give the excellent riding instruction they have been doing thus far.”