EQUESTRIAN: Fletcher's the boy in Brazil

WOOLSTONE-BASED Will Fletcher is currently representing Great Britain at the Children’s International Classics Showjumping Final in Brazil.

The 14-year-old is one of only two Brits to have qualified for the final, which is the equivalent of a World Championships.

Fletcher, son of international showjumpers Graham and Tina, is competing in a strong field of showjumpers aged 12 to 14 from across the globe, over five days of competition.

The youngster qualified in top spot from a league of foreign riders, when in September he won the Children on Horses World Qualifier in Barbizon, France, on board his frequent ride Hello Boyo.

At the same show, he won the Under-18s Grand Prix with Urugan, demonstrating his consistency on different horses and a cool head in top-level competition.

A crucial change takes place in the final in Brasilia, however, as the non-Brazilian competitors are riding unfamiliar horses, following a draw process similar to modern pentathlon.

To prepare for this daunting task, Fletcher has been riding a number of the 20 horses stabled at his family’s yard.

“At home I’ve ridden nearly everything, apart from Hello Sailor, my mum’s top horse,” he said. “We’ve been doing everything we can to get me ready.

“At competitions, I’ve ridden three or four horses at every show, and they’ve been different combinations each time.”

Tina, who just missed out on the Olympics last year, said: “We’ve tried to get him riding as many of ours as possible, as that will give him the best chance of doing well.

“The experience of the preparation time and the final itself will hopefully be good for his career, as you don’t often compete lots of different horses at this age.”

The final marks the highest level of competition available to children in this age group and challenging and technical courses have been laid out for the 32 riders who qualified.

However, Fletcher’s experience of winning two six-bar competitions at county shows, where he jumped single fences measuring up to 1.80m, should stand him in good stead.

The youngster’s ability to even attend the finals looked in doubt when he fractured his shoulder playing rugby in September.

However, having taken six weeks off to recover before fitting in as many shows as possible in the last few weeks, Fletcher was back on track.

Playing rugby is not where his involvement in other sport stops. Fletcher is a keen footballer, playing for junior sides at Bicester Town and Witney Town and for the latter he scored 50 goals last season.

He frequently combines football and showjumping on a Saturday, with the assistance of his willing father.

Will is also not the only young Fletcher to be impressing on the showjumping scene as snapping at his heels is 10-year-old brother Olli.

“Olli is our winning machine,” added Tina. “He has won 30 classes this year, up to 1.15m. He is doing really well.”

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