Top eventers earn course design scholarship

Lucy Wiegersma and Simon Porloe
Lucy Wiegersma and Simon Porloe in action. © Al Crook

International eventing riders Lucy Wiegersma and Angus Smales have been awarded British Eventing’s inaugural cross country Course Design Scholarship.

The Course Design Scholarship, which is supported by the Bill Thomson Bursary, was introduced to help promising Course Designers who might not have the support, openings or financial backing to progress within this important role.

The winning two candidates were chosen after nail biting day of interviews and practical field assessments.

“I’m thrilled,” said Lucy. “I know I’ve got lots to learn and I’m really looking forward to getting expert guidance to help me progress.

“Having recently lost our own event [Hatherleigh] to the British Eventing calendar I have really missed having an outlet for the many course design ideas that I want to put into practice. It will be so nice to have a blank canvas on which to once again try new plans. I’m really delighted”

Leicestershire based Angus explained how much the Scholarship would mean to him: “I’m so happy and pleased that I was one of the winning two. Course design has been a side-line of mine for a long time, and now I can finally start to think about it more seriously.

“Everything that the Scholarship offers will be such a massive help, but what makes it special for me is the chance to enjoy mentorship from the best Course Designers in the country – I feel like a kid in a sweet shop!”

It's a Jackpot and Angus Smales (GBR).
It’s a Jackpot and Angus Smales. © Steph Freeman

Both Candidates will receive mentoring, free access to training sessions, design opportunities and a degree of financial support as part of the Scholarship during 2014.

The shortlist of four was put through their paces by selectors Mark Phillips CVO and Jane Holderness-Roddam CBE LVO. Both selectors found choosing the final lucky two Scholars a difficult challenge.

“All the shortlisted candidates were hugely knowledgeable and we were impressed by the enthusiasm shown, so it was not an easy task to decide on a final two,” said Holderness-Roddam, who is also Chair of the Bill Thomson Bursary Committee.

“In the end, it became clear that that the more experienced riders had a real feel for what is required, were able to think of a combination of fences from a design perspective and had a flair for being able to see how the design of an obstacle would affect the way it would ‘ride’.

Lucy Wiegersma and Angus Smales.
Lucy Wiegersma and Angus Smales. © Fiona Scott-Maxwell

“Being the first time we have run this Scholarship we were hugely pleased with the calibre of those who applied. Those on the shortlist who were not successful were still excellent candidates and we hope that they went away from the day feeling inspired and encouraged,” Holderness-Roddam said.

“This Course Design Scholarship is a wonderful way to pay tribute to Bill Thomson’s work, ensure fresh perspectives are continuously being added to course design and to allow for new faces to come through. We are all very much looking forward to seeing how the Scholars will progress during the coming year.”

The Bill Thomson Bursary fund was created in memory of Bill Thomson who pioneered much of the cross country design and building methods still seen today in Great Britain. He was famous for his course design at Burghley and many other events, establishing many of the methods used now. His flair for creating challenging yet fair obstacles remains the inspiration for the sport’s leading designers worldwide.


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