Winners announced for the Mark Todd Bridging the Gap Scholarship
Alycia Port, Dickon Reader, and Hannah Freeman have been named as the winners of the Mark Todd Bridging the Gap (MTBTG) Scholarship for 2020 and will form the new ‘Todd Squad’, after a fantastic day under the expert instruction of Sir Mark Todd. Previously only awarded to one lucky rider, this year three riders have been given the opportunity to train with Sir Mark Todd and will receive a fantastic sponsorship and prize package during 2020.
This year’s scholarship selection panel consisted of Sir Mark Todd, Lizzel Winter and Gill Watson as coaching experts, Philippa Margolin from Keyflow Feeds and Carol Allison on behalf of The Mark Todd Collection. All of the six finalists, consisting of Caroline March, Alycia Port, Olivia Craddock, Steve Garrod, Dickon Reader and Hannah Freeman, performed extremely well throughout all phases of dressage, show jumping and interview, making it a tough decision for the panel. Carol Allison, Mark Todd Collection commented “Once again, we had an extremely deserving group of finalists and we are grateful to them all for making the trip. While ultimately there were just 3 winners, I hope that everyone feels that they benefitted from the experience and from Mark’s input.”
Alycia, 30, has competed up to 3* level and works full time to support her eventing career. She is hoping to make the jump to 4/5* level next year with help and guidance from the MTBTG programme. Dickon, 25, started eventing at the age of 14 and began eventing full time under the guidance of Niki Ryan, before setting up his own yard producing horses through the grades. Hannah, 30, competed in her first BE90 at the age of 22, and is now looking forwards to completing her first 4* event alongside running a private yard. The three members of the new Todd Squad will be invited to three group training days with Sir Mark next year, and each rider will also receive a total of £1000 worth of product from The Mark Todd Collection and Keyflow Feeds. All six finalists received a rug, saddle cloth and jacket, kindly donated by The Mark Todd Collection and the three runners-up also received a bag of Keyflow feed.
Sir Mark Todd commented on the day “This is our seventh Bridging the Gap final and selecting our winners doesn’t get any easier with time. We’ve had a slight change of format, so it's going to be very exciting to see how that works and how it develops. It was a hard decision to pick three out of the six finalists but I think we’ve got a good group and I look forward to working with them; hopefully, we’ll have some success."
Philippa Margolin, at Keyflow Feeds, said “It was a privilege to watch emerging young talent in action and to witness the expert training from Mark, Gill and Lizzel. We at Keyflow very much look forward to supporting the new Todd Squad next year.”
The Mark Todd Bridging the Gap training series continues to provide a valuable resource for riders working their way through the levels, and Gill and Lizzel’s tireless work throughout the year on training days and course walks is giving confidence to those taking on the challenge of stepping up to the higher levels.
Huge thanks must also go to Nike Stahl for the use of Breach Lane Equine Centre and Little Park facilities, and to manager Mike Rawlins.
Find out more about the series HERE.
Photos courtesy of The Mark Todd Collection