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A TYNONG North teenager has secured a championship ribbon in her preferred equestrian event at this year’s Victorian Equestrian Interschool Series (VEIS).
Year 8 student Sophie Bennett competed in the VEIS dressage grand finals on her horse Connie, to be named the reserve champion in her level and the overall series reserve champion.
This has qualified her to enter the nationals in pure dressage and she also qualified for the nationals in eventing earlier in the year – a rare achievement to qualify for two disciplines.
Sophie will represent Victoria at the Australian Interschool Equestrian Championships on Branigans Irish Connection in the eventing horse trials.
“I’m really happy and proud to be representing St Paul’s and Victoria at the Interschool Nationals in Sydney,” Sophie said.
“This is my second year going to nationals and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get here but it’s an amazing week. I’m lucky to have the support of Mr Armour and the elite sports performers program to help with managing my training and schoolwork.
“My horse Branigans Irish Connection and I are training hard and aim to do our very best in the competition and I cannot wait to get there.”
Nar Nar Goon’s Emily Downes also won her intermediate class at the VEIS show jumping grand final on her horse Snowy River Viking.
“I’m very excited to be able to go to nationals on my horse Snowy River Viking as I’ve only had him for about 14 months,” Emily said.
“It’s been hard work to get to nationals with the many hours of training I’ve put in and Dad running me around to all the qualifiers – thanks Dad.
“I’m sure the competition is going to be very tough in Sydney but I’m really looking forward to the experience. Go team Vic!”
Both girls are part of an elite sports performers program at St Paul’s have qualified to represent Victoria, competing at the national Interschool Equestrian Championships in Sydney in September.
A SPECIAL ceremony will take place on Sunday morning to unveil memorial stones in honour of Australian service personnel.
Pakenham RSL plans to erect seven stones beside the Pakenham cenotaph over two stages in recognition of those who have served or fought overseas since World War II.
The first three stones represent the Korea, Malaya and Indonesia (Far East Strategic Reserve), and Vietnam wars, while the remainder expect to be installed by late next year to honour those who served in peace keeping efforts in Somalia, East Timor and Iran, and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The line of stones will serve as a commemorative walk for service personnel, their families and the general public to pay their respects.
The unveiling ceremony will take place at 11.30am on Sunday 28 August at the Pakenham cenotaph, with guest speaker military historian Marcus Fielding and speeches from Australian war veterans from each of the three conflicts.
Lunch and refreshments will be served following the ceremony at the Pakenham RSL Hall, corner James Street and Snodgrass Street, Pakenham.
GABRIELLE Lovett from Hillcrest Christian School has been selected as captain of the state equestrian team and will lead the team at the upcoming National Equestrian Interschool Championships.
Ms Lovett has been riding horses and training with them for eight years, but really got into competition riding after attending Hillcrest.
Elected jumps captain last year, Ms Lovett has put in a lot of hard work and training to get the position of overall captain this year.
“I am honoured to be captain,” she said.
“I have put in a lot of hard work over the last two years in particular, and it has all paid off.”
Ms Lovett has completed VET Equine Studies units one through four and currently is undertaking a track riding apprenticeship while at school.
She says being selected captain of the Victorian team will be great for her future job prospects as well as for her personal development.
“It’s great for future job opportunities, but also a great way to help other people,” she said.
“I can be a role model for the younger riders and set a good example; it’s a lot of responsibility but I’m up for the challenge.”
Gabrielle Lovett’s mother Debra is Equestrian manager at Hillcrest and says she is very proud of her daughter and what she has chosen to do.
“I have a daughter who, on a Friday and Saturday night, is up cleaning, preparing, and packing for events,” she said.
“Her riding and her dedication has really positive lifestyle benefits.”
Ms Lovett said getting to where she was now would not have been possible without the support of her coach and her family.
“My coach Paul Williams is an amazing coach, and has helped me and other kids gain knowledge, confidence, and skills like no other,” she said.
“Of course my older sister Rachael who has let me ride her horses and use her gear and my dad has been really supportive, too.”
Ms Lovett and her team will travel to Horsley Park in Sydney for the National Equestrian Interschool Championships from Sunday 25 September to Thursday 29 September.