Endurance GB new Southern Champion

Endurance GB’s new Southern Champion Sally Mcilwaine, and her 15.3hh Irish Sport Horse, Winnie The Witch showed staying power in Sunday’s 80km title race ride at Three Rivers Ride, to complete and take the championship two years after settling for second place.

They completed at a gritty 11.6km/hr, with Sally’s verdict on becoming Southern Champion being it was a nice ‘surprise’. It completed a good weekend for Sally, having bowled round Three Rivers’  34km the previous day with her New Forest gelding Tamba (registered as Ashurst Twister) at 13.7Km/hr.

Organized by Endurance GB’s Mid South Group, Three Rivers Ride is based from a large grassy venue at Tenantry Farm at Rockbourne near Fordingbridge, Hampshire. The testing route of distances up to 160km in two days, is made up of grassland tracks, undulating downland, bridleways, and some roadwork through picturesque villages.

Sally Mcilwaine said: “The route was really well-marked and the going was good. Winnie had a good heart rate and great recovery all day and I was really pleased with her finishing heart rate of 45. The ride seems to have taken absolutely nothing out of her but I think all she was interested in was spooking and eating. Normally she is at least reasonably forward with the more cantering the better, but it felt like hard work yesterday and I found the second loop particularly challenging.”


Having followed Nikki Malcolm and Oso Spiralling Wind across the line in 2019, Sally said: “I hadn’t entered with the aim of becoming champion but it is nice to show what non-Arab horses can do in the sport. Her incredible progression is also a way of encouraging new people to try endurance riding because the sport has totally changed her.”

“I took Winnie on four years ago when she was given to me because she was classed as ‘dangerous’. She was a horse who wouldn’t hack and wouldn’t go on her own, but she has taken to endurance and become much easier with the miles.”

The pair are enjoying a good season so far, having completed a 36km ride at Hardy’s followed by a 67km at Cerne Giant before earning a second place in the 80km race ride at Avon Valley.

Sally, who is based in Bristol but keeps her four horses near Warminster in Wiltshire, used to work with horses but now drives lorries for a living and as well as training the horses, keeps fit herself by running.

“I used to work with horses but now driving a lorry it is a bit harder to stay fit. We have woodland where I keep the horses and I also go up on Salisbury Plain and have used gallops to train on in the past.”

Sally, a former Arab racing jockey with five winners including at Goodwood under her belt, made the transition to endurance when her two Arab racing mares retired from the race track.

As well as the headline 80km Regional Championship, Endurance GB’s series of 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.

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