A 19-YEAR-OLD A-level student from Lyme Regis has been named the best British horse rider in the European Young Rider Endurance Championships.

Dace Sainsbury passed all her exams at Woodroffe School and was the first British rider across the finish line of the 120k race, which was held in Belgium.

The British team came home with a bronze medal.

The young rider, who already has her sites set on the world championships next year, said it has been an amazing experience.

She came 12th out of a field of 63 riders on her 12-year-old Arab mare Lottie.

Dace squeezed in her training at 5.30am before school to make sure her horse was fit enough to compete at her first championships.

She said: “It was a very tight schedule and I have another youngster at home whom I am just starting through the levels and he was having to be exercised and it was a struggle.

“As it was I passed all my A- levels and got selected so it has been a very good year.

“I have been competing at an international level for about five years but this was the first time we had traveled abroad.

“This year was a bit lucky because I was doing my A-levels and wasn’t really aiming for the championships but as it was we got her qualified and they selected her to go to Belgium, which we were over the moon about.

“She has just been fabulous.

“I started riding when I was six years old. I started at pony club doing all the activities like showjumping but then we bought Lottie with the aim of doing endurance and she has just completely excelled at it.”

Dace said endurance was very special because of the bond you develop with your horse and the beautiful places you get to ride She said: “It is about the amount you learn, not just about the competitive side but the physical, all about their metabolic rate, all about soundness and how everything just has to be perfect in order to get around a 120k distance because obviously anything that is slightly out is going to get them eliminated.”

Dace has sponsorship for her tack and clothes but she has to meet all the other, not inconsiderable, costs.

She works in local yards training other endurance horses, race horses and starting youngsters.

Dace is having a year off before going to university to study journalism.

Her next outing is with youngster Just Kidding, cousin to Lottie, who is doing his first 80k on October 5, 6, and 7 at the Red Dragon ride.

“It is the best British ride of the year because it is at the Festival of Endurance and all the riders get together and we just have a very good time.”