The HKEF Interschool Equestrian Challenge: report from KGV


At the final of the 2018 HKEF Interschool Equestrian Challenge, the teams from King George V School (KGV) and Renaissance College won the Higher and Lower Divisions, respectively. Renaissance College won the Ann Barron Memorial cup and team members Evie Sum, Anita Qian, Joshua Chan and Grace Lohan will receive a training session in Hong Kong. The KGV team, comprising Julie Bardin, Annabel Dyson, Zoe Koerber and Rachel Mason, have just returned from a week’s training at Ingestre Stables in Staffordshire in the UK. Along with their Chefs d’Equipe, Mr Lee Grady and Mrs Lee Grady, they have sent in their report. Below are extracts:

Report to HKEF – KGV Ingestre UK Trip June 2018
Just after midnight on Sunday 17th June 2018, 4 lucky riders from KGV School HK and their 2 Chef d’Equipes David and Lee Grady set off for the famous Ingestre Stables in Stafford in the UK to spend a week training with some amazing instructors. This trip, kindly sponsored by the HKEF, was the prize the team received for winning the 2018 HKEF Interschool Equestrian Competition held at Tuen Mun Public Riding School and Lo Wu Saddle Clubs. This was the third year running the KGV team had won the competition and the trip to Ingestre. The KGV team that went to the UK were Rachel Mason, Annabel Dyson, Zoe Koerber and Julie Bardin. This was the third time Annabel and Rachel had won this trip and twice for Zoe. It was Julie’s first trip to both the UK and Ingestre and all riders were very excited to be spending a week at Ingestre with Mr and Mrs Grady.

All six of us were very tired as we settled into our seats on the 1am flight to Manchester. After the long trip we were greeted at Manchester by our taxi driver Zubair who ensured we had a very comfortable trip to Ingestre. To all members of the HK team it seemed to be late afternoon but our watches told us it was 9am when we arrived at Ingestre Stables. We were very lucky that Anna Chetwynd, the owner of the Ingestre Lodges, was ready for us to arrive and had our accommodation ready to go. Even though we have been lucky enough to stay in Ingestre we never quite get over the excellent quality of our accommodation.

The 4 girls were very excited and disappeared quite quickly to show Julie around the stables and to renew friendships forged in previous trips. Everyone was battling to keep their eyes open but Mr Grady had arranged both a jumping and flat session for the girls in the afternoon to help battle the jet lag.

The jumping session in particular kept the girls awake and was to use their own words “a lot of fun”.

Ingestre is normally closed on Mondays but they generously altered their organisation for KGV to have 2 riding sessions and 1 stable management session on that day. The even better news was that all 3 sessions were to be conducted by Mr Tim Downes arguably one of the most knowledgeable horsemen in the world. In both flat and jumping sessions the KGV riders were very lucky to receive some great instruction and advice from Tim. In the stable management session Tim walked our riders around the Ingestre cross country course stopping at each jump to explain the peculiarities of these jumps and how they should be approached. All KGV riders learnt a lot from Tim on this day.

Tuesday again involved a flat riding session in the morning and a jumping session in the afternoon. KGV riders found the stable management session on the bones of a horse particularly interesting.

All KGV riders were excited to hear that they would be hacking out at in the Cannock Chase on Wednesday. Two trucks transported the 6 horses to the edge of the Chase and Tim took the riders for a 2 hour ride through the Chase.

Thursday saw Ingestre host BHS Stage 4 Examinations with 2 candidates from Italy. KGV riders were asked to be “guinea pigs” for these candidates as they were examined for the teaching exam. In the morning Annabel and Zoe rode for separately for candidates doing a private lesson while Rachel and Julie rode in a combined flat/jumping group session in the afternoon.

On the Friday afternoon KGV riders went on a trip to Eland Lodge which not only has a great tack shop but also an amazing cross country course. KGV riders spent 1 ½ hours walking this course and discussing how we would “attack” each jump. After returning our hire car on the Saturday we were invited to a BBQ in the evening with all the Ingestre staff.

Sunday was a sad day as it saw us leave our friends at Ingestre to travel back to Hong Kong from Manchester airport. Zoe Koerber and Julie Bardin vowed to work even harder to try and again win this great competition in 2019.

In summary this was a great experience for all members of the KGV Equestrian team. The week spent receiving intensive training definitely improved the skill levels of all riders. All members of the staff at Ingestre were excellent being very supportive and helpful throughout our stay. Anna and Aaron, owners of the Ingestre Lodges, as per our last three visits, could not do enough for our team. One of the big positives of this week is to stay on site at the stables. On behalf of the KGV Equestrian team I would like to thank everyone who helped make this such a memorable experience. Tim, Rob, Andrew, Calum (who was an amazing contact) and Tori in the office, the amazing acting chef for the week Mark who couldn’t do enough for us and our brilliant instructors Tim, John, Chris, Dan and Gary all made our stay memorable. Wendy Wong, Vicky Wong, Maggie Lau and Angela Kwong at the HKEF, Dr Simon Griffin, the parents of our riders and finally to the senior management and the rest of the supportive staff at KGV are also worthy of particular mention. Last but by no means least to my co-coach Mrs Grady for all her help and more importantly support during those odd stressful times spending 24/7 with 4 teenagers.

Mr David Grady
Chef de Equipe