Stonesby eventer Willa Newton set for Badminton debut

Willa and Chance Remark at The 2016 Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials courtesy of Adam Fanthorpe. EMN-170205-101315002
Willa and Chance Remark at The 2016 Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials courtesy of Adam Fanthorpe. EMN-170205-101315002

Stonesby three-day eventer Willa Newton is set to make her debut at the world-famous Badminton Horse Trials on her 15-year-old ride, Chance Remark.

The Newton family are steeped in equestrianism: Willa is following in the footsteps of her sister Chloe, who has previously competed at Badminton and Burghley, while father Joey was a successful jockey.

Completing the set, mum Emma rode in point-to-point and eventing.

Willa has a degree in business management from Leeds University, but is determined to pursue a full-time professional eventing career.

Most of her previous four star experience has come at Burghley aboard Neelix, the horse she took from Pony Club to senior level.

They enjoyed success at four consecutive Junior and Young Rider European Championships and won young rider team gold and individual silver medals in 2011.

The 27-year-old’s Badminton bid follows a successful 2016 season when she took two prestigious Young Horse Championships - Blenheim’s 8/9 year-old CIC3* Championships (with Caja 20) and the seven-year-old Young Horse two star Championship at Osberton (with Lauries Laudatio).

Chance Remark, owned by Feena Machin and Peter Thomas, is an Irish Sport Horse gelding, affectionately known as Austen.

Willa acquired the ride in 2013 when the owners moved to Waltham-on-the-Wolds and were looking for someone local to campaign the horse.

Last year, Willa and Austen notched up some consistent results at prestigious three-star events, including eighth place in the highly-competitive CCI3* feature class at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.

“We have had Badminton as a target for quite some time and were nerve-wrackingly sitting on the waiting list until a couple of weeks ago, not knowing whether we would make it to the final entries list,” explained Willa.

“I was so excited to have the call-up and can’t thank Peter Thomas and Feena Machin enough for all their support and this brilliant opportunity.

“Now it’s just fingers crossed that we make it there in one piece and put our best foot forward.”

Willa is drawn 25 of the 100-plus anticipated starters, which means she begins her dressage phase today (Thursday).

Cross country follows on Saturday and the final show jumping decider takes place on Sunday.