Alex Hardwick Has the Edge and Wins 2012 British Young Professionals Award
British dressage young rider Alex Hardwick from Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire was crowned the 2012 Young Professionals Award winner on Monday 19 March. As well as the coveted accolade, the 21-year old Alex took home a £4000 training grant.
Hardwick was part of a seven-strong contingent of hopefuls to travel to Talland School of Equitation for the final, generously sponsored by David and Penny Manning.
The riding and training section was judged by international riders Richard Davison and Judy Harvey who were really impressed by the standard of the competition. ‘It’s a great scheme as it shows the younger riders what being a professional is all about. Being able to make it on your own, how to fill in the gaps and thinking about situations and not just the ability to ride is vital - and all those here have shown that. I’ve not had the most enjoyable day…it’s been really difficult! No, I have really. Talented riders and great horses, who could want more?’ was Richard’s summing up.
The contestants also had a discussion with the judging panel of Islay Auty, whose brainchild the awards are, Rachel Hillier and BYRDS director Janet Horswill.
The organisers, judges and contestants couldn’t thank Pammy and Brian Hutton and the team at Talland enough for their kind hospitality, fantastic organisation and amazing horses which make the day possible. Gratitude also went to David and Penning Manning who’ve supported the Awards since their inception with considerable funding towards the bursaries.
Alex arrived at Talland brimming with confidence having had amazing result just days before – with her three home-produced horses, she took the first three places in the Prix St Georges qualifier at The College Equestrian Centre – winning with 75.26%. Although she admitted she wasn’t sure what to expect of the day; ‘I was unsure when I arrived but I’ve had a great experience – once in a life time. Its nerve wracking riding new horses which are such a high standard. I came here hoping to be in the top three but to win is amazing.’
Hoping for a spot on the 2012 British Young Rider squad, Alex helps mum Sally run the family base, Hallingbury Hall Equestrian Centre where they cater for riders of all abilities. She has a string of five competition horses; all of which she’s produced herself from three or four year olds.
Second spot went to Beth Miller, also 21, from Yate who’s no stranger to Talland having been based there in 2007 but now she works freelance and recently set up her own yard. She’s hoping to use her £2000 bursary prize to complete her UKCC level 3.
The youngest contestant finished third, 20 year old Charlie Sawyer from Dorset, who ‘cut his teeth’ at Matt Hicks’ yard. He’ll use the £1000 bursary funds towards UKCC completion.
The Young Professionals award was established in 2010 and replaced the talent spotting programme which ran for 20 years. The original format was developed to capture talented riders in days when perhaps dressage wasn’t such an obvious sport choice. With dressage now burgeoning in all regions it was felt that the formula had run its course – those coming through the final stages were undoubtedly talented but were also already ‘spotted’ and well supported through the regional networks. Instead it was felt there was a need in the industry for a scheme that helped young people from 18-25 structure a career path in dressage and to motivate and help them to achieve this and so the Young Professionals award was born through the BD BYRDS committee with Islay Auty, Janet Horswill and Rachel Hillier being instrumental in shaping the event.
1st Alex Hardwick
From Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. Qualified at Oakelbrook Mill, Glos.
£4000 Grant & £100 Saddlery Voucher from the Worshipful Company of Saddlers
2nd Beth Miller
From Yate, Bristol. Qualified at Oakelbrook Mill, Glos.
3rd Charlie Sawyer
From Blandford Forum, Dorset. Qualified at Jubilee Farm, Essex.
From Newent, Glos. Qualified at Peasbrook Farm, Worcs.
From Hawksbury Upton, Glos. Qualified at Peasbrook Farm, Worcs.
From Little Billing, Northants. Qualified at Oakelbrook Mill, Glos.
From Headley, Berks. Qualified at Jubilee Farm, Essex.
Each runner up received a £100 Grant.
Source: British Dressage
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