Kent Target claimed their fifth consecutive A grade crown at the UKPA National Championships on the 24th of August as they overcame the Welsh Dragons in the Final. They also won the B grade, the D grade and had placings, best players and best horses throughout the grades as they won the overall Nationals trophy for the first time, though they were pushed hard by Celyn and the Welsh Dragons who each had grade wins, second places and best players and best horses to help boost their own points tally.
Overall it was a great weekend as the weather decided to be kind and the UKPA laid on an excellent event, with a continuing focus on making the National Championships bigger and better. Player numbers were similar to last year but there were more spectators, particularly on the Sunday to watch the Finals, and with the event moving back to the bank holiday weekend the Sunday night party was once again back to its best with a return of the Man of the Year awards, which were compered brilliantly by Agi Duhig and won by the undeniable Irish charm of JB Harrington of Chiltern.
Kent were comfortable winners in the A and B grades. In the A grade the Welsh Dragons did push them hard in the group stages but in the Final Kent were irresistible as their men hit top form. The Kent ladies had a tough battle against the Welsh Dragons ladies, lead by the redoubtable Debbie Harris, but their men, lead by their own talisman in Jason Webb, overwhelmed the Welsh with skill and speed.
The same was true in the B grade as Matt Smith starred as Kent overcame Cotswold in the Final, after both teams had beaten all other competitors in their earlier matches. Cotswold fought to the end and narrowed the difference at the end but Kent had done enough early on to deserve their win.
The C grade was split into Upper and Lower C and it was the Welsh Dragons who claimed the Upper C as they beat all other teams in the round robin competition. Kent took second place but Welsh Dragons took both the best player via Charlie Ralli and best horse for Arufa, owned and ridden by Erin Tufnell.
In the Lower C grade Rugby overcame Celyn in a nail biting final. Rugby held the lead but Celyn leveled it up in the last chukka but Rugby won ball and scored two more goals to win by a narrow margin. Celyn did get some consolation as Mollie Edwards won best player and best horse for Viz.
In the D grade Celyn were again the bridesmaids as they lost to Kent in the Final and this time there were no consolation, as Maddie Kish of Kent won best player and best horse for Pasha.
In the E grade it was mixed team of players from Ledbury, Chiltern and the Bucks Broncos who overcame a slightly less mixed team from Chiltern and Limemere Sparks and push them into second place.
In the Juniors it was Celyn who reined supreme as they won both the Open and Intermediate Juniors. Arden pushed them hard in the Open Junior final but ultimately the Celyn Juniors were too much for them. The same was true in the Intermediate final where the Welsh Dragons finished in second place against another strong Celyn side. Finn Bristow of Rugby won best Junior in the Open Juniors but elsewhere it was more prizes for Celyn as Alex Vickers’ Arwen won best horse and then Emily Goding and her horse Tiny won best player and best horse in the Intermediate Juniors.
In the Primary Juniors it was Rugby who emerged victorious as they overcame the Northern Lions who claimed second spot. Tegan Bristow of Rugby won best player while her pony Pepper won best pony. All in all it was a very good weekend for the Bristows as Finn also won the Bomber prize for best Junior Horse and Rider and Tegan won best Under 14 player.
The veteran horse award for the year went to the aptly named Star, who at 26 years old is still going well and adding to the list of players he is introducing to the sport. Amy Miller picked up best Retrained Racehorse award after her performances in the Celyn C grade team and the overall horse and rider award went to Debbie Harris and Paso.
For full results click here.