Showjumper on Magic journey

A YOUNG showjumper is hoping for a touch of Magic to help her triumph at a prestigious royal event.

Helen Mercer has qualified to compete in front of thousands of people – including members of the Royal Family – at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, at Windsor Castle, in May with her trusty pony Magic.

Helen Mercer pictured with her pony Magic. Picture by Tom Collins

Helen Mercer pictured with her pony Magic. Picture by Tom Collins

The talented duo will be performing in the British Riding Club’s Top Score event against some of the finest riders in the country in an event which involves horses and ponies jumping over as many fences as they can in 60 seconds.

The fences are at different heights, with the higher fences worth more points.

Helen and eight-year-old Magic, who is a black Friesian Fell, will have to beat off competition from about 45 other riders if they are to win the competition.

Helen, who spends up to six hours a day training, grooming and riding her ponies, said: “It has been overwhelming to be honest as we didn’t expect to qualify.

Helen Mercer pictured with her pony Magic. Picture by Tom Collins

Helen Mercer pictured with her pony Magic. Picture by Tom Collins

“This is our first time and I will be training Magic hard over the next few weeks. But we cannot wait to get down there and show what we can do.”

The pair qualified after beating off competition from 80 other riders at an event held at Holmside Park Area, in Durham, two weeks ago.

The five-day Royal Windsor Horse Show is the largest outdoor equestrian show in the UK with more than 3,000 horses and ponies taking part in more than 250 different events.

It has been running for more than 65 years and is held inside The Queen’s private grounds at Windsor Castle from Tuesday, May 11.

Support worker Helen, who lives in Masefield Road, is a member of the Dalton Piercy-based South Durham Saddle Club and has been riding for the past 12 years.

The 23-year-old, who is going out with David Williams, 22, an apprentice electrician, said: “I was shell-shocked when we qualified as it has taken a long time for me and Magic to bond and to be honest I was trying to concentrate on having a bit of fun with him.

“I certainly didn’t expect to win.

“Magic isn’t the most disciplined when it comes to following a set route so this competition is in our favour as you basically try and jump over as many fences as possible in the 60 seconds. There is no set route.

“Our competition takes place on May 12 so we will be travelling down the day before, which will probably take around eight hours.

“It is the first time that Magic has left home so it will be a new experience.”

Helen, who also rides three other ponies – Macauley, Gypsy and Unique – thanked her mum Judy Smith, 50, a shop assistant, her retired dad Peter Smith, 58, and her friend Nicola Tyson, 36, for their help and support.