THREE young riders are jumping for joy after succeeding at the highest levels.

Richmond School and Sixth Form College equestrian team members Bena Slack, Imogen Thornton and Laura Mathias have ridden their way to glory in separate events.

Bena, 12, of Stanwick, rode to an impressive fourth place from more than 100 competitors at the National County Showjumping Championships, staged at Leyton Buzzard, near Milton Keynes.

Imogen, 16, of Aldbrough-St- John, and Laura, 12 of Melsonby, took first and second places, respectively, at an eventers challenge in Northallerton to qualify for championships at Hickstead, on May 28.

Team manager Kirstie Thornton said: “Our equestrian team has achieved a great deal over the past four to five years and the girls have done exceptionally well this time.

“At national events they are faced with a host of accomplished riders from mainly independent schools yet they more than hold their own.”

Bena added: “The nationals were quite scary when I first arrived, particularly as I have only been jumping for a couple of years.

“But my Welsh mountain pony Ollie knew it was a big occasion and jumped really well. While I didn’t expect it, I came fourth with clear rounds and only a fractionally slower time. Ollie is cheeky and loves to nibble. He likes to compete and is always looking for attention.”

Bena hopes to qualify for the prestigious Horse of the Year Show and, one day, ride for Team GB at the Olympics.

“My friend went to the Horse of the Year Show and actually won, so it can be done and is certainly worth aiming for,” said Bena.