Endurance GB Northern Champion Kate Atkinson’s ‘relief’ at return to sport after completing last ride at 2019 FEI European Championships
Endurance GB’s new Northern Champion, Kate Atkinson has spoken of her relief at returning to post-lockdown competition just under two years after she and DNS Ronaldo finished their last ride together at the 2019 FEI European Championships at Euston Park.
The combination won the headline 80km class at Dialstone at an average speed of 16.4km/hr just a split second ahead of Linda Cowperthwaite and Epis Summer Breeze, with Jessie McHugh, on her first ever race ride, coming in third with CFS Eros at a speed of 16.3km/hr.
Kate Atkinson, a previous winner at the Northern Championship in 2011, said:
This was a proper endurance ride and a true Northern Championship course with really varied terrain, hot temperatures and some really steep climbs – you have to go over Sutton Bank on every loop. Nessie really knows his job and I could tell he was really pleased to be out again. It was like putting on an old pair of trainers for us both. He was great in the vetting and nothing fazed him and he was pulling right up to the finish – I think he knew he wanted to be the first across the line.”
Kate is enjoying a double celebration having just completed her veterinary studies at Liverpool University and with a new job in prospect as an equine vet at a practice in Lancashire. She added:
When we finished at Euston Park in August 2019, we had just planned a break and to pick things up as normal in March 2020 when the season restarted. But that was before the shock of Covid and lockdown. I think we all started training properly again when rides resumed with Lavenham running [last September] which gave everyone a bit of hope, but it was a case of ‘realistically, are things going to happen or not?’. Coming back to race riding here was the biggest sense of a return to normality I have had. It’s a huge relief, it wasn’t just the ride, it was the social side, it was so nice to see everyone again and it also makes you appreciate our 80km national rides where you can have so much fun and just enjoy the sport without the pressure of qualification.
I would really like to pay tribute to the ride organisers, all the volunteers at Endurance GB and helpers on the day who made it happen in the heat and on their first time back too. This was also organiser Linda Birkitt’s first race ride and it ran so smoothly. We are all very grateful as riders because without them, our sport just would not happen.”
As well as the headline 80km Regional Championship, Endurance GB’s Northern, Southern and Welsh Championships now run additional Championships classes offering something for all levels: with a Regional Open Championship (65km GER performance formula), a Regional Novice Championship (40km novice GER performance formula) and a Regional Grassroots Championships (20km foundation GER performance formula).
The Southern Championships will be held at the Three Rivers ride on 26-27 June and the Welsh Championships will be held at Pembrey Country Park on 11-12 September.
Endurance GB Operations Director Esther Young said:
This first of Endurance GB’s Regional Championship series for 2021 was a fantastic success and our thanks go to Linda and Caitlin Birkitt and the North and East Yorkshire Group for the immense amount of hard work that went into putting on this amazing weekend.”
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