PARA DRESSAGE: Sutton seeking investment
6:00am Thursday 15th August 2013 in Latest News
AFTER a successful 12 months in the saddle, Wanborough’s para dressage starlet Alex Sutton is looking for local sponsors to help him progress through the British ranks.
Twenty-year-old Sutton suffers from cerebral palsy which affects the whole of the right side of his body, meaning he has no motor movement in his fingers, while his leg and foot are also severely weakened.
Despite his disability, Sutton has established himself as one of the rising stars in para-equestrian, and in recent months has bagged himself the Winter Championships and Restricted British Summer Championships titles as well as claiming second place in the freestyle at an international two-star event at Bishop Burton.
On board 14-year-old chestnut gelding Leo, the former Hartpury College student has enjoyed a prolific 2013, but as his mum Nicky explains, he is targeting the higher rungs of the sport - and that means added expense which the family are hoping businesses and horse enthusiasts in the region might consider contributing towards.
“Him and Leo bloomed as a partnership until the end of last May, when Alex broke an elbow,” Nicky told the Advertiser.
“They went to Hickstead last year as a trial to see how the horse would be in the competition around them and got a third, so this year they’ve forged that relationship and moved it on up.
“Alex is on the World Class Development Programme, which supports riders at three levels. Alex is still on the start level but next year is looking to go up into the Open group.
“Although the National Lottery supports the World Class Programme it doesn’t cover all of the competition costs.
“That is the most expensive thing - getting out and doing the competitions, especially when it’s three or four days and you’re looking at accommodation and stabling.
“We are looking for another horse to move forward in the next couple of years, but any kind of financial assistance or help with travel would be beneficial.
“Alex has got a part-time job he works in the holidays, but his options are fairly restricted given his disability and his obligations to the World Class Programme.
“The riders have to earn a certain amount of points to qualify for the major championships they ride in, and in nearly all of his qualifiers Alex has gained in excess of 70 per cent scores - which is pretty good for a start.
“Alex, as a restricted rider, is not up against the Olympic riders most of the time but he’s had a pretty good year.
“He won the Winter Championships, then he went in the Restricted British Summer Championships at Hickstead and he won that, then he took part in a Para Home International and his team came fourth.
“Bishop Burton was a two-star international and it was the first time Alex was in a two-star which wasn’t in a young rider category.
“He came third on the Championship Test day and second overall in the freestyle out of about 20 riders.
“He’s also qualified for the KBIS Para Dressage Championship at the Espayo British Championships in September at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.”
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