AUSTRALIANS have always loved an underdog story, and Axedale local Katya Bathurst’s triumph at the 2018 Ellenbrae Australian Youth Dressage Championship is exactly that.
At age just 11, Katya managed to take out the youth championship while up against competitors aged up to 21 – an incredible achievement.
Across four days of competing in the Australia-wide event held at the Boneo Park Equestrian Centre on the Mornington Peninsula, Katya came out on top by scoring 70 points – two ahead of her nearest rival.
To enter the Youth Dressage Championship you must be at the top of your state rankings, with only a very select few getting through to compete.
Katya’s mother, Lara Bathurst, said she was incredibly proud of the way her daughter didn’t allow herself to be intimidated by the older competition, or let the extreme weather distract her.
“I think one of the most impressive things about the win was the guts and determination Katya showed through the heat,” Lara said.
“She could have stopped or slowed or whatever but she pushed through, and I mean for an 11-year-old girl to do that when she was competing against 21-year-olds it was amazing.”
Lara said Katya deserved all the success that came to her for the amount of time and effort she puts in to her dressage.
“It has definitely been the result of a lot of hard work that Katya has put in with her coach Christine Siebers, we owe a lot of this to her.
Lara also praised Katya for her ability to handle the pressure of riding a fairly popular pony.
“The pony ‘Blue Dust Chardonnay’ has quite the following, and is well known amongst dressage followers so they had the cheer squad there, but the pony does need an experienced person to ride it correctly and Katya did that very well.”
Lara said the funniest moment of the competition came as Katya walked up on stage to receive her first place medal.
“As she got up on stage to accept her first place award you could hear everyone saying ‘where is Axedale I have never heard of that’ so we are happy to be putting Axedale on the map!”