Jessica returns to her Ballymena roots

EQUESTRIAN superstar Jessica Kurten will return to her Ballymena roots next month.

Jessica, the world's leading lady showjumper, is the special guest at a function run by the Mid-Antrim Hunt Supporters' Club at the Tullyglass Hotel on Tuesday, March 9.

She will be the principal speaker for the evening and will share insights about her showjumping career and answer questions from the floor.

A Mid-Antrim Hunt spokesperson said: "For such a successful athlete, who has twice represented Ireland at the Olympic games, to give up her time to do this is incredibly generous, and it is thanks to her happy memories of hunting with the Mid-Antrim Hunt that she has agreed to fit it in to her packed schedule and fly over especially for the occasion."

Born in Cullybackey, Jessica's interest in and talent with horses was evident from an early age and she took part in her first lead rein competition at the tender age of four, going on to win several national pony championships and become Junior Irish Champion.

After studying for a horse science degree she decided to make it her full time career and in her early twenties had a run of success with the Irish bred horse Diamond's Exchange.

In Dublin Jessica met her husband Eckard Kurten who manages her career and they married in 1994. They now live at Chesney's Farm, named after Jessica's family, in the German Rhineland.

Jessica has had consistent success with several horses with Castle Forbes Maike taking her to 18th individual place at the Athens Olympics in 2004, but it is with the exceptionally talented Castle Forbes Libertina that she has most captured the public's imagination.

The mare was injured last spring but thankfully made a full recovery and came back to win the Rolex World Cup Qualifier last month for an impressive third time in a row, taking Jessica to second place in the Rolex World Cup Western European League standings.

This is an evening not to be missed and tickets need to be booked in advance.

The evening will start promptly at 7pm and a fork supper is included in the price. Tickets are 20 and 10 for under-10s. These can be obtained from Patsy on 07748951218 and Anne on 07730885227.