Sunday 23 Sep 2018

Seaforth Riding Centre

Livery Yard and Training Centre

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  1. Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Championships

    The Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Championships are a highlight of many visiting the LeMieux National Dressage Championships and have seen many equine celebrities, both past and present, claim the titles through the years. This year’s series has without doubt been a wonderful showcase of British breeding, riding and training.

    Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Championships – Four-year-olds

    Gloucestershire-based breeder Judith Davis and her team have much to celebrate following a successful Sunday in the Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Championships for four-year-olds.

    The ballerina-like mare Hawtins Lirica, presented by Lucinda Elliot, was named Champion in her age group with stable mate Hawtins Fianello moving up to the reserve position following the rider judging.

    The Young Horse classes are a firm favourite with the Stoneleigh crowd and with star German rider/trainer Eva Möller returning to guest judge, today’s tests were a highlight once more. To add to the experience, FEI 5* judge Isobel Wessels provided a riveting commentary of the class via Radio Nationals. Isobel has many times judged the World Young Horses and next week will head to the Swedish Young Horse Championships to look at their four to seven year old horses.

    Isobel started the class by commending the many horses, riders and breeders who take part in the Shearwater series year after year, “Hundreds of horses come forward for this Championships, 40 go to the Semi Finals and we see only 10 at each level here so well done to all of the finalists that made it here. It’s an amazing standard.”

    The four finalists from Saturday’s pre-judging are each ridden by Eva Möller who adds her opinion to that of the judges panel on the ground, Ulf Möller and Maria Colliander.

    The first horse to be put through the magic Möller system was yesterday’s top scorer Hawtins Lirica (Lemony’s Nicket x Hawtins Delizia). The light-footed mare behaved impeccably with both her home rider Lucinda and guest rider Eva. Over Radio Nationals Isobel commented, “It’s a really nice type of horse, it wants to move through the body. This mare can control her front leg and clearly there will be a talent for piaffe and passage in the future. I like this horse, she’s very elastic and her conformation her back is a bit low – she needs to be given a lot of time to develop musculature but her trainability and expression is all there.”

    Finnish judge Maria Colliander provided an arena side summary of the dainty yet powerful mare, “She’s a lovely horse, very expressive and really taking the rider with her – clear paces and well balanced.”

    Next up for judging was SJL Baks Zacco, a handsome son of Blue Hors Don Romantic owned by Sara Lucas. Isobel Wessels praised the horse’s conformation, stating that his compact frame and well-muscled back would be highly beneficial in the future. “He’s very well developed for a large horse,” she said, “I’d like him to stretch his frame a little longer and swing more over the back. He’s a very talented horse but very different to the first horse. Every horse has different talents and different levels of development.”

    Maria Colliander added, “This is a very solid horse, he has a good contact, always listening with three clear paces. We’d like more freedom in the shoulders but this is something that can be improved with age, power and good riding.”

    Judith Davis’s second horse to be presented in the final was the eye-catching chestnut gelding Hawtins Fianello (Floriscount x Hawtins Cardinal Virtue). “Now this is a very impressive looking horse,” Isobel Wessels remarked, “This is a horse who as his engine starts to work more and the contact is taken forward can make beautiful transitions with a good connection. It’s a wonderful type - very expressive and elastic. He looks like he wants to work, gives a nice picture and in his development is secure.”

    The judges by the side of the arena were also duly impressed. “Here we saw a very energetic worker,” said Maria Colliander, “Ulf [Moller] says he’s a bit over motivated to be the best kid in the class – he loves his canter and that’s his pace. It’s a lovely powerful pace with good jump in the hind leg and activity.”

    The fourth and final horse to be presented in the four-year-old age category was Matt Frost’s G Star, by Gandhi. “The horse is a little hurried and I’d like to see him take the rein forward, swing through the back and soften,” Isobel commented, “a slightly more suspended feeling would be great. This horse’s canter is his highlight and after the canter the trot improves.”

    Maria concluded, “This horse is the baby of the group in comparison with the others, Eva put her finger on it that the horse needs development in the connection and the elasticity over the back. The trot needs more power but the walk is very good.”

    After a final consultation between the judges the final order was confirmed, Hawtins Lirica, Hawtins Fianello, SJL Baks Zacco and G-Star.

    Proud breeder Judith Davis can add now one more title to her vast collection from the National Dressage Championships – it was not too long ago that Carl Hester first spotted his WEG star Hawtins Delicato in the Shearwater five-year-old Championships in the same arena.

    Speaking about her stars of today Judith said, “It’s an amazing achievement just to make it to Sunday’s final let alone win! To have first and second is amazing, Lirica is truly special and Fianello is a very very good horse too. We produce for the long term so these horses have come here off the back of a summer break. They’ve never done anything like this so I’m very impressed.

    “Lirica is a very brave horse, she’s even been leading our older horses around the show ground. I was thrilled to bits with them yesterday, and today has been a dream. I’m really pleased for Bryony and Lucinda, they work so hard, they love the horses and they work very well together.”

    Both Judith and stable jockey Lucinda Elliot credited Serena Pincus as a large part of their success. Serena has trained the stable for just over a year and both breeder and rider were keen to sing her praises.

    Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Championships – Five-year-olds

    The impressive young stallion Izonik, produced and presented by Kerry Mackin, was this afternoon crowned the 2018 Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Five-Year-Old Champion. The exciting young stallion, who is by Zonik and out of a Jazz mare, impressed ride judge Eva Möller to maintain his first place position after yesterday’s assessment and preliminary judging.

    The ultimate winner – Izonik who is co-owned by his rider and Rowan Bryson - was the first in the arena for the final judging under Eva. “He’s a very impressive horse,” commented Isobel Wessels. Looking at him it’s difficult to believe he’s just five. He’s well-muscled with a lot of propulsive power, and he has gears. He creates a lovely picture of ease and elasticity, and has a lot of airtime in canter.

    Co-commentator John Bowen said; “He’s a lovely horse, a super type. He presents a lovely picture and is very elegant. He’s maybe a little weak in the middle but he will develop into a super horse. He looks a little tired in the hind leg today, but he’s already competed in the Novice and Elementary classes here. Also, you cannot underestimate the pressure of staying away from home and how tiring it is for the horses.”

    Maria Colliander, who judged the Shearwater Young Horse Championships alongside Eva and Ulf Möller, summarised; “We saw a horse with absolutely clear paces. The walk is a highlight, the trot absolutely in rhythm. He could maybe have been a little sharper behind, but the canter is big and nicely balanced. He could have a little more connection over the back, but he did respond well to Eva’s questions.

    Next up was Nikki Barker with Sara Lucas’s Iwan, a gelding by Charmeur. “He’s a beautiful horse with a lot of expression,” said Isobel, “though he’s not always on the hind leg enough, yet. I like him - he’s a very good horse. Nikki is a good rider and she’ll have a super horse to ride and train!

    “He’s not as smooth as Izonik, but he’s incredibly uphill. He manages the smaller circles very well and is ‘thinking’ about a flying change. He has a tendency to go away, rather than stay on the hind leg, but in a few years the extended canter will eat up the ground. He’s just looking a little for Eva to help him."

    Maria Colliander commented; “That was very nice to watch. We saw a horse with a nice forward attitude. He likes his work and is willing to go. The trot is rhythmical, the canter has a lovely jump, and the walk is clear.

    Third in was Kiss and Tell, presented by Matthew Baker and owned by Roland Tong, on only the horse’s third show. Isobel said; “He certainly has the x-factor. He has a huge engine. He’s a bit behind the others due to a year out, but he’s a lovely horse. He has a very nice knee action, is very active with the qualities for Grand Prix. He throws himself away a little in the canter transition, but once she [Eva] has him, it’s a powerful canter with lots of airtime. You need quickness with power, and this horse has it. He now just needs a bit more suspension which will come with self-carriage. It’s a lovely picture and he looks like a treasure of a horse to me. In my case, I call it the ‘teddy bear factor’!"

    Maria commented; “He was a positive chap. He wanted to do what Eva wanted him to do. He has a big canter. I’d like to see a slightly sharper hind leg in canter but he has clear paces with a good relaxed walk.”

    The final horse forward was Amy Woodhead and Hero. “This is another huge horse,” said Isobel. “The natural balance is not quite as good as the others, the nodding in canter is indicative of that and he could be more ‘through’ in the body.”

    Maria commented; “He’s five-years-old and a little like a teenager. He has quality in all his paces but could by nature have a bit more go, be more in front of the rider.”

    So the final order was announced: 1st Izonik, 2nd Iwan, 3rd Kiss and Tell, 4th Hero.

    “It’s been such an amazing journey,” beamed Kerry Mackin who has produced the horse from the very start. “He’s been an absolute perfect gentleman, the whole way through our journey.”

    “It’s quite emotional for me as it’s my last ride on him,” said Kerry who relinquishes the ride and ownership to his current co-owner Rowan Bryson. “He’s an incredible horse with an incredible brain and I just couldn’t be happier today.

    “I’m so happy that the judges thought he’d come on so much since last year [when reserve four-year-old champion], as I haven’t had any training on him. I’ve done it all myself and not even had one lesson on him,” said Kerry.

    “He’s a lovely horse. At home he’s dead chilled. The only thing we all cringe at is that when you put him in the stable, he rolls like mad!” she laughed. “So he’s a bit of a dinosaur in the stable, but apart from that he’s easy. With his training he never says no, he tries everything and he gave everything yesterday in that test, probably one of the best extensions he’s ever done. He’s a big boy and it’s taken him time to gain strength, but he’s incredible. I’m ecstatic.”

    Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Championships – Six-year-olds

    A competitive six-year-old Championship saw Charlotte Dujardin take on two mares who’ve visited the World Breeding Championships for Young Horses plus an impressive rising star from the Headmore Stud.

    An intense battle resulted in a win for Charlotte with her own and Carl Hester’s Hawtins San Floriana, who displayed the same quality today that gifted her both the four and the five year old titles previously to complete her set in style.

    In front of a knowledge crowd, Amy Woodhead’s ride MSJ Zonetta went first under the expert guidance of Eva Moller. “The canter needs to jump through more and show a little more ground cover and uphill tendency,” Isobel said over Radio Nationals. “The expression is getting better and better, Eva gave the horse plenty of time to get going in order to find out more. The hind leg reaches more and more under the body and she is improving through her core.”

    Maria Colliander delivered the judges verdict: “Here we see another Zonik offspring with a very big and good walk. I think that at the beginning the horse lacked a little bit of enthusiasm to listen to the rider but she responded well and Eva mad a big difference. The walk is big and clear, the trot has perhaps a small tendency to hurry at the start but is in rhythm, the canter could perhaps be a bit more under from behind with more shoulder freedom but the horse shows a clear ability to collect.”

    “Next we see a really classy horse, but she’s not always perfect – she can be a little short in the next and too hot to handle,” Isobel said of Hawtins San Floriana, Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin’s outstanding daughter of San Amour. “The croup can also come a little high at times, that said she oozes class and character, combined with endless energy and elasticity. The mare wants to go, she doesn’t want to hang about! Eager to go and eager to please.” The mare, another bred by Judith Davis of Hawtins Stud, is a descendent of foundation mare State Premium World Finest who is also the grandmother of Hawtins Delicato… talent clearly runs in the family!

    Reiterating Isobel’s points, the judges said “Well, I have to say we liked watching this! It’s an impressive looking mare with a lot of stage presence, all three paces are absolutely clear. If the walk in the first qualifier was tense, today it was clear and nicely relaxed in the end. The trot has a wide range to come and go and the canter shows underlined clear ability to collect! She’s really willing and ambitious, at times this takes over with a little tension but it’s a very nice horse.”

    “This mare looks nice with little Eva on board!” Isobel commented on Sara Gallop’s BKS Fantasia, the third horse to be assessed in the six-year-old category. “The picture is really nice, Eva will try to get the horse more over the top line and ask to be allowed in a bit more. The trot can be a bit edgy but the horse accepts the aids willingly.” BKS Fantasia is a delightful black mare by Furstenball standing at 15.3hh, “this little lady’s got big presence and big movement” the commentary team at Radio Nationals cooed.

    Maria Colliander contributed, “We see here a really very pretty, feminine, light-footed horse. She’s energetic with an active hind leg, listening to the rider her energy can take over a bit! The rhythm can get a bit hectic, but it’s a nice horse with three workable paces.”

    Belissimo M is renowned for producing nice horses with nice character, Alice Oppenheimer’s mare Headmore Bella Ruby certainly lives up to the reputation. “Headmore stud have bred some wonderful wonderful horses, Bella Ruby looks a little tired today but we’ve got to remember that the weather and staying away in temporary stables does have an effect on these young horses.” Isobel continued, “The back can tighten a little and she could carry herself up and out a bit more with the neck, but she’s a beautiful horse.”

    Commenting on the final horse of the Shearwater Young Horse Championships Maria Colliander said, “She’s a nice horse with three clear paces, we’d like her to work more from behind with a more supple connection to bring the forehand up in trot. The canter has a strong jump, the trot was in a nice rhythm with ability to collect and extend. She could show more freedom in walk. It’s a horse willing to work with the rider, but otherwise she did listen and she did work for Eva.”

    With the class complete, the prestigious title was awarded to Charlotte Dujardin and Hawtins San Floriana, BKS Fantasia moved up a spot from the pre-judging assessment to take the reserve spoils whilst MSJ Zonetta claimed third. In her prize-giving interview Charlotte expressed just how much she thinks of her brilliant horse, “She’s a Rolls Royce! She’s so smooth and elastic, and she’s got so much character. I can’t ask for much more than this horses, she is amazing.”

    The win saw the curtains close on an immense week for Charlotte, speaking about how valuable the LeMieux National Championships experience is she said “I don’t think there’s another show in the world that’s as electric as this show. There’s a lot happening here, you’ve got flags, you’ve got tents flapping, you’ve got horses moving around you all the time, you’ve got applause in your tests. We don’t get to go anywhere else where you have that. The horses have to learn to deal with the pressure of this sort of environment so being here with the young ones is great.”

    Charlotte thanked Sadie Smith and Katie Bailey once more for keeping the horses running throughout the World Equestrian Games, as well as all the team behind the scenes for their support. “I had two days to prepare and as the week’s gone on the horses have got better and better – I’m a perfectionist so whilst my preparation wasn’t ideal I’ve been so pleased with the horses and the results.”

    British Dressage thanks official insurance partners Shearwater for their continued support of this prestigious series.

  2. Day four: LeMieux National Championships

    It’s been four days of extremely high standard sport at Stoneleigh Park and with over 1600 tests ridden, the LeMieux National Dressage Championships continue to be the pinnacle of the BD calendar.

    British Dressage congratulates all who took part in this year’s Championships. Thanks go to the generous sponsors of this event, to Kelvin and Kate Bywater plus all the team at Show Direct, to the vast team of judges, scorers, stewards, test sheet runners and to the many more who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make the week an event for all to enjoy.

    Equine Construction Advanced Medium Gold

    It was a Charlotte Dujardin whitewash in the Equine Construction Advanced Medium Gold on the final day. Four rides, four top five placings, quite the strike rate. The victor of the quartet was her final ride in the class, the Vivaldi sired seven year old mare Mount St John VIP, owned by Emma Blundell with an astonishing score of 81.21%.

    She set the early pace with Gio, her Apache x Tango seven year old with a 79.34% and Michael Eilberg gave it a good shot with another of Mount St John Stud’s talented seven year olds, Valencia with 75.5%. However the third of Charlotte’s rides, then slotted into third, Brioso II, owned by Carl Hester while River Rise Nisa, whom Charlotte owns jointly with Sarah Tyler Evans who also bred the mare, finished fifth behind Michael.

    VIP certainly impressed the judge at B, Debbie Jones who awarded 13 marks more than any of her fellow panel.

    Charlotte said; “I’m really pleased with her. I think she got a similar score at Somerford Regionals. This level for her at seven is pretty easy, she just went in there and did it; everything felt so smooth and easy. Her extensions are amazing, her canter work has improved from last year, the flying changes are super; she’s just a feisty, go-ey little number! I just love her and she shows incredible talent for Grand Prix. I was very happy when I came out as I couldn’t have asked for any more.”

    She was also full of praise for her runner up, Gio; “I love my little pumpkin pie! Warming him up, he just puts a smile on my face. Everyone that sees him says that horse is so amazing and I just say ‘yup!’ He probably would have won if his medium and extended trot was better. There’s more to come there. He has so much more power there and he’s so talented for the Grand Prix work. The piaffe and passage is just out of this world and he’s brave as an ox. His little ears are always forward and he feels so happy when you ride him; I just love him to bits.”

    Childéric Saddles Elementary Gold

    It was an extremely close affair in the Childéric Saddles Elementary Gold Championships with all of the top twelve competitors finishing on 70% plus scores but it was East Lothian rider Jo Barry who took the spoils. Jo had two chances at the title having qualified Hidalgo II whom she jointly owns with Lady Hope and Gordon Grainger’s Goofy La Perle.

    71% with Hidalgo gave Jo a ninth place rosette but stable mate Goofy La Perle (Belissimo M x Jazz) claimed his second title of the year with a fabulous 73.5%.

    Local rider Rebecca Hughes was a very close second with Alison Croft’s Tantoni Dallaglio on 73.12% with Ashley Jenkins completing the podium on 72.81% with His Highness, owned by Jamie Reynolds and Cherry Elvin.

    Goofy La Perle was acquired for Jo to ride by Gordon Grainger whose wife went to her for help with her showing Connemara ponies. “We’ve had Goofy just over one year. The Graingers were inspired to buy a dressage horse for me, having seen my determination after the accident [Jo sustained a serious head injury in a riding accident in December 2014]. They wanted to help me on my way and kindly offered to buy a horse for me.”

    “And it’s been quite a fairy tale with Goofy,” reflected Jo. “We won the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold at Hartpury and now he has won here. That’s his Elementary career finished now. It’s been a fantastic introduction for them [the Graingers] to dressage.”

    “I was pleased as punch with Hidalgo’s test too,” said Jo. “He was a bit scared in his Novice test due to the weather so for him to come back with more confidence for the Elementary was very pleasing. I’m so happy with them both!”

    Horse Health Grand Prix Freestyle

    The Horse Health Grand Prix Freestyle – arguably the jewel in the LeMieux National Championships crown – played out under sunny skies at Stoneleigh Park on the final day of competition.

    Nine top quality combinations stepped forward to contest the Championship, with seven of those scoring over the magic 70% barrier. The event wasn’t without it’s surprises as title favourite Gareth Hughes unfortunately had to retire Rebecca Hughes’ and Julia Hornig’s Classic Briolinca as the talented mare struggled to cope with the atmosphere in an electric Horse Health arena. Although a sad outcome for the team, the decision was undoubtedly a demonstration of true horsemanship at it’s finest.

    WEG team reserve Lara Butler capitalised on her time in the ring and rode a supreme test on board Dr Wilfried Bechtolsheimer’s Rubin Al Asad. Their thrilling freestyle earned them a total score of 77.07%, giving them the Horse Health Grand Prix Freestyle Champion title and the overall LeMieux Grand Prix National Champion title to boot.

    In a test full of highlights, Lara and ‘Rufus’ truly showed their quality. Set to a routine including tracks from Dire Straits, the duo showed flowing trot half passes, punchy extended trots and neat double pirouettes.

    “It’s been a long time coming!” Lara commented in her prize giving interview, “I’ve tried three or four times and been reserve a couple of times too! It was really unfortunate for Gareth today, I feel really sorry for him - it must have been very tough. But, I produced a good test so I’m pleased the judges were happy and rewarded me with a good mark. I feel like we earnt it as well!”

    The sixteen-year-old gelding by Rubin Royal will now enjoy a break before perhaps heading to Olympia in December, “It’s so nice to finish off the outdoor season here and to prove that we’re such a strong partnership is great, I couldn’t ask for any more. We’ll have another shot at the team next year, he feels so fit and fresh and he keeps getting better.”

    Second place went to last year’s overall champion Hayley Watson-Greaves with the spritely Rubins Nite. The experience combination showed their characteristic extended trots alongside some other super high quality work to be awarded with 75.15% for a lovely routine.

    Sonnar Murray-Brown and Erlentanz showed huge potential for the future in today’s test, using none other than Valegro’s emotive How to train your dragon programme to great effect they scored 73.92% for third place.

    For full results, click here

  3. Notes from the 2018 AGM

    The Annual General Meeting of British Dressage was held on Thursday 20 September at the Oak Tree, Stoneleigh Park.  The results of the formal business are as follows;

    The following were proposed as Ordinary Resolutions:

    1. To elect the Judges Director. There were no objections so Peter Storr is duly elected.

    2. To elect the Para Director. There were no objections so Julie Frizzell is duly elected.

    3. To elect the Finance Director. The election was managed independently by MiVoice who reported the following; there were 1576 votes. Caroline Godfrey 844 votes and David Fawcus 732 votes. Caroline is duly elected.

    4. To receive the Financial Statements of British Dressage for the year ended 31 December 2017 and the Directors’ and Auditors’ Reports thereon. KPMG reported no significant audit issues and that in their opinion the accounts were a true and fair account of 2017.

    5. To appoint KPMG as the auditors of British Dressage and to authorise the Board to fix their remuneration. One vote was received against the motion was carried in line with due process.

    Special Business

    The following resolutions were proposed as Special Resolutions:

    6. To elect Linda Whetstone, recommended by the Board, as the Chairman to hold office until the date of the 2019 AGM. Unanimously carried.

    7. That the draft articles of association submitted to the meeting and for the purpose of identification signed by the Chairman thereof be and the same are hereby approved and adopted as the articles of association in substitution for and to the exclusion of all the existing articles of association of British Dressage. Unanimously carried.

    Click here for a pdf of the Directors' presentations.

    Full minutes will be released in due course. 

  4. Wells makes does the Grade V double at WEG

    Sophie Wells brought her FEI World Equestrian Games campaign to a close on a high by completing the para grade V golden double with and her ride, C Fatal Attraction, owned by Charlotte Hogg with a huge performance which earned a world record score of 80.755%. It was her career fourth Individual world gold.

    Speaking after her test, a delighted Sophie said; “He was a little bit tense today and on edge but he’s come out this week and given me everything.

    “I was a little bit stressed last night as I thought it may be too difficult and we have only done it once at Hartpury but he’s come out today made me very proud.

    “When you miss out on an Individual Gold [WEG 2014] after training everyday it’s hard, but to achieve this after a big gap like I’ve had is amazing; that’s why Rio [Olympic Games 2016] was so special because I missed out on the gold in London [Olympic Games 2012] too.”

    Commenting on Great Britain’s success, she added; “The British team are amazing and it’s so hard to get on the team and selection is a massive hurdle that you have to overcome. We have a lot of good riders with a lot of horse power and we’re seeing that more across the world – yesterday [the team competition] proved that. The standard of the riders, the training and the horses is amazing for the sport and it makes proud to be a part of it - but that means you have to fight.”

    The Grade III class brought the para competition to a close and after a Canadian horse didn’t pass this morning’s horse inspection, Erin Orford was promoted up the order and gained a place to compete alongside Natasha Baker.

    Drawn second to go Erin looked brimming with confidence with Annabel Whittet’s Dior to produce a test worthy of 71.073%. It was then the turn of Natasha Baker with Mount St John Equestrian’s nine year old Mount St John Diva Dannebrog who, after a silver in the individual test and topping the team test, were amongst the favourites for a medal.

    The test started brightly but then on a turn up the centreline away from the judge at C, ‘Diva’ took fright and put in a huge buck and leap which, having no strength in her legs, deposited poor Tash on the floor, resulting in elimination. Fortunately it was only her pride which was hurt as she left the arena on her trusty scooter, waving to the crowd.

    So it wasn’t to be for Natasha on the final day but Erin finished in a very credible fifth spot in the Freestyle on her World Championship debut.  Afterwards, Erin said; “I was so pleased with her today, she felt amazing. She’s grown in confidence this week and today she went in there and said ‘OK I’m ready, what do you want me to do’. I had a new freestyle music made for here and a technical issue meant we didn’t get to ride to it which was a massive shame. To finish within 0.8% of bronze and 2% of silver despite this, just proves her quality and how close we are to the best in the world.”

    After leaving the arena Natasha said; “My ego is bruised and my bum is bruised but I feel fine and at least I hit the centre line! I don’t know what got into her today but it was out of character for her. We untacked her and cooled her down and we’re going to go and sit back on and see how she feels and give her some confidence back.”

    That brings the para dressage to an end and it’s four medals for Britain to bring home after days of competition which witnessed courageous riding, epic determination and plenty of inspirational performances. Safe trip home everyone!

    For full freestyle results – click here


  5. Day three: LeMieux National Championships

    Super Saturday at the LeMieux National Championships didn’t fail to disappoint as Britain’s finest future horses battled for elusive places in the Shearwater Young Horse Finals, as well as the TopSpec Medium Gold title. Spectators were treated to an exciting start to the LeMieux Grand Prix Championships, an ever-popular Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Freestyle plus an educational Master Class with Anna Ross and a debut Nationals performance from Atkinson Action Horses.

    TopSpec Medium Gold

    The start list for this morning’s TopSpec Medium Gold featured a wealth of highly talented combinations, the class providing a big draw for spectators at the Stoneleigh Showground. With no fewer than 13 combinations breaching the 70% barrier, the class was a super competitive affair, with the top two still achieving a clear lead.

    One of the hot favourites going into the competition was Charlotte Dujardin who already has two titles under her belt this week. With her own and Carl Hester’s Hawtins San Floriana, a San Amour x Florestan six-year-old, she certainly delivered, scoring a fantastic 78.45% for first with Michael Eilberg and Mount St John Valencia second on 77.18%.

    About her tests Charlotte commented: “Well… I did the six-year-old test first today and she was very hot, a bit lit up with all the atmosphere! I worked her a bit more for the medium and if anything I did a bit too much. It was a good test but a little under-powered. She’s six-years-old doing only her third or fourth medium so again for a six-year-old to come here and do it all in this atmosphere – which is quite difficult – is amazing."

    When asked how Hawtins San Floriana stacks up against the rest of her incredible string she added, “She’s probably right at the top, she’s really special to ride. She’s so smooth through her body, everything moves, everything is so elastic and loose. It’s all so easy to her and she makes you smile every time you ride her.”

    Michael Eilberg, who was not only second with Mount St John Valencia, but also seventh with Atterupgaards 02 (71.27%) commented; “It was a very competitive class, but then, I think all the classes here are quite competitive, in all the levels - it’s really good news for the sport.

    “[In the TopSpec Medium Gold] Charlotte and I were a little bit out there with those two. The horse I rode in there today, Mount St John Valencia, she’s a real special one. She gives you a great feeling and she’s such a fun horse to ride. She’s a little bit sensitive, you have to ride her with a bit of feel and it’s taken a little while to gain the partnership and confidence,” he said.

    Talking about his test, Michael said; “What I loved about today is that from start to finish she [Valencia] kept breathing, she was more relaxed through the whole test. In the past she’s had moments of brilliance then spoilt it with a spook, or a moment of overdoing something. To be fair, the last few tests I’ve done with her, I’ve had really nice rides. To carry it out at a show like this, with this atmosphere, it was great to know.”

    LeMieux Grand Prix Gold Championship

    It may have been a 20 mile journey to a Championship rather than the 3000 mile one he was hoping for at the beginning of the season but the trip was a profitable one for Gareth Hughes today as he took the LeMieux Grand Prix title with Rebecca Hughes’s Classic Briolinca. In one of the most competitive classes of the show, Gareth earlier posted 70.4% with his first ride KK Woodstock, owned by the Kroll’s which set the early pace.
    Fellow World Equestrian Games reserve rider Lara Butler then knocked him off the top spot with the Bechtolsheimer’s Rubin Al Asad, 2017 winners of this class, with a score of 72.58%.

    A few horses later, Gareth then came in with Briolinca and produced a crisp, lively test with her trademark piaffe and passage work really impressing the judging panel of Stephen Clarke (E), Peter Storr (H), Elke Ebert (C), Maria Colliander (M) and Nicky Barratt (B) who duly awarded an average score of 74.3% for the lead.

    New Grand Prix sensations Sonnar Murray-Brown and Erlentanz followed immediately and looked to be on course to challenge for the lead but a final score of 70.58% meant they couldn’t quite match Gareth.

    The final rider was reigning National Champion Hayley Watson-Greaves with her own WG Rubins Nite and the duo were in fine form but again, just couldn’t match Gareth. 69.62% was the score which left them fourth overall, some 4.3% behind the winner.

    “She’s had a great year but a foot abscess after Bolesworth must have been an influence on selection so it wasn’t to be. I was out in Tryon and exceptionally proud to see them win the medal. I guess you could say this is a great consolation prize for not making the trip! I was really happy with her today; she’s not been out since Bolesworth and being out in Tryon training two teams, I haven’t done a lot of preparation with her ahead of today,” said a delighted Gareth.

    “It’s a big atmosphere in there and she’s proved she can do it; I’m really proud of her,” he concluded.

    Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Freestyle 

    For the second consecutive year Charlotte Dujardin was crowned champion in the Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Freestyle. Her win with her own Florentina, taking the tally to three over two days, also added the Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Supreme Champion title to her immense National Championships collection.

    Today’s freestyle test saw the combination earn 76.67% from the experienced panel consisting of Sandy Phillips, Jenny Ward, Sarah Pidgley, Penelope Lang and David Trott.

    Speaking about her Supreme Champion wonder horse Charlotte said, “Flora was a bit tired today but I was still pleased. We had no real mistakes and just the fact that she goes in there and she delivers every time is special. She’s very consistent and has also dealt very well with me being away which proves her consistency.”

    Known for her ability to ‘wing it’ in a freestyle, today Charlotte proved her talent once again, “It was actually designed for En Vogue!” she said about her music created by talented composer Tom Hunt. “I just pinched it! I don’t have freestyles for all these horses and I’m never organised enough to get anything done, I just borrow what I can.”

    Looking ahead to the final day of competition, Charlotte concluded "I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I've got four in the Equine Construction Advanced Medium so it's going to be a busy day!"

    Second place in the competitive Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I final went to Hannah Biggs with her own Don Caledonia (Don Schufro x What a Lark), whilst Alice Oppenheimer continued to build on her great form to claim the third spot with her mother Sarah's eight-year-old Headmore Davina (Dimaggio x Rubinsteena).

    Click here for full results.  

  6. Nettex Thoroughbred Championships

    The second running of the Thoroughbred Associated Championships, sponsored by Nettex, took place last Sunday (14 - 15 September) at Vale View Equestrian in Leicestershire.

    The Championships, which are designed for all Thoroughbred horses including those who’ve never raced, saw dozens of representatives forward to vie for the five national titles on offer, at levels from Intro to Medium.

    Event rider Emma Beresford took home the Elementary title with her 15-year-old gelding, Prince Keel (pictured). Emma (27) who has evented successfully up to 2* level, and interestingly in 2015 had a spell riding Andalusian horses in a travelling circus, scored 69.83%.

    “Prince Keel, 2018 Nettex Thoroughbred Championships Elementary Champion,” said Emma on Facebook. “Thank you to class sponsors Nettex for a great champs and lovely goodie bags of prizes.

    “[I] Love this horse so much, after a mystery field injury three weeks ago we were only sure he was sound and going to make it to the champs on Monday and after hurting my back yesterday we nearly didn't! Sitting trot was torturous!

    “Thank you so much to my wonderful vet Tim Beauregard and physio Rachael. He made it and I'm so glad he did! He also went on to take third in the Medium. I'm so lucky to have a fantastic support team.”

    The Intro title went to Pat Clayton (64) from Spalding in Lincolnshire with her 12-year-old gelding Budsson. The pair earned a score of 70.87%. Trained by BD’s para director Julie Frizzell, of Dressage Coaching UK, who took to Facebook to say; “[I’m] Bursting with pride. Pat Clayton, who I’ve had the absolute pleasure to coach for several years now, with her amazing Buddy, [their] first affiliated ever and this happens. No greater honour than to be entrusted with coaching and developing talent - no matter what our age or challenges.

    “A huge told you so moment and this really could not have happened to a nicer, more deserving, humble and giving person.”

    The Prelim title was won by Janine Robertson (34) from Reading and Bijou Lucy. Janine and her six-year-old mare scored 68.65%. The pair has been competing affiliated for less than a year, with just eight competition starts so far.

    Leicestershire rider Katy Ferrari (40) and her 10-year-old gelding Sirius Chesnut triumphed at Novice, scoring 69.17%. The combination started competing at Novice last year, achieving scores of up to 73% whilst Steph Cason (29) from Newmarket in Suffolk took Medium honours with the 14-year-old gelding Harland on 66.22%. The pair has been competing together for four years now and was placed second at Medium in the Petplan Equine Area Festival at Brook Farm in Essex earlier this year.

    British Dressage thanks the team at Vale View for a successful Championship event as well as title sponsor Nettex for their generous support of the Associated Championship series.

    Nettex Thoroughbred Associated Championships Roll of Honour
    Pat Clayton with Budsson, 70.87%

    Janine Robertson with Bijou Lucy, 68.65%

    Katy Ferrari with Sirius Chestnut, 69.17%

    Emma Beresford with Prince Keel, 69.83%

    Steph Cason with Harland, 66.22%

    For full results click here.

  7. Paras take team silver in WEG

    The record breaking unbeaten run of Britain’s para dressage team has finally come to an end in a nail-biting finish at the end of two amazing days of team tests at the FEI World Equestrian Games. It was the quartet from the Netherlands who will go down in the history books as the team who finally toppled Britain but it was by the smallest of margins, just 0.65% and the team will be celebrating the silver with great pride in the knowledge they gave their all.

    On day one of the team tests (Thursday), Nottinghamshire’s Sophie Wells threw the gauntlet down with a personal best of 77.233%when first to go in the Grade V. It was a beautifully executed test with not a mark wasted. A delighted Sophie said; “I am so happy with him; I love him to bits. I knew I needed to up my game from the other day for the team. I had a look at my test with my coaches and looked at different areas; I gave him a 20 minute stretch because I wanted to leave it all in the tank for today and luckily it worked.”

    Going first for the team brings added stress and Sophie added; “You learn to deal with the pressure and I just focused on what I needed to do. We worked so hard over the winter and he’s come out a different horse this year. All the other nations are getting so much stronger and the horse power is incredible in the sport. We want to retain our title but we can only do the best that we can do.”

    It was then Grade II Sir Lee Pearson, with his and Mr and Mrs D Pearson’s Styletta, who retired in the individual test after the nine year old was struggling with the heat and atmosphere. A check by the support team and a short schooling session proved she was fit and well to continue. Lee used every ounce of his vast Championship experience to nurse his young charge round for a very respectable confirmed score of 71.606% which gave Britain a second good score in the club house.

    Afterwards Lee said; “I was not worried about the placing today, I rode calmly and passionately in there, and said thank you to her on every transition. I’m over the moon; it’s not the highest score in the world, and not the way I can ride, but the way I should have ridden today.

    “She’s been brilliant here, with the environment, with the arenas – I thought she would be petrified, but she hasn’t and I do believe that she will be a fantastic championship horse for the future.”

    Day two of the team competition dawned bright and sunny and it was down our Grade III riders to battle it out for a medal

    First up was Natasha Baker MBE, with the Mount St John Stud’s nine year old Mount St John Diva Dannebrog and, despite their relative inexperience as a partnership – WEG is just their third international together, nailed a personal best of 74.118% to give Britain a fighting chance.

    An ecstatic Natasha said; “I don’t even know what to say, I’m still shaking; she was absolutely amazing. I’m just so, so, proud of her. Everything was just so much better, she went in there with so much more confidence today. I was much more confident today; it hit me a little bit [the pressure], but she just felt so good that it didn’t matter. I just felt so much more prepared going in there today; we got the halts, and just so, so happy. If that’s what we can do after seven months then in another year’s time, she’s just going to grow even more in confidence. I absolutely adore that horse.”

    Natasha’s score was enough to beat her main rival Rixt van der Horst which gave some breathing space from the Netherlands who we were neck and neck with going in to the final riders. The calculators were working overtime and it looked like our final combination, Erin Orford and Annabel Whittet’s Dior needed a PB score over 72.25% to clinch a gold. The duo gave it their all with Erin working hard to get the best from the Dimaggio mare and when the final score was posted…69.029%. Just short of the mark which gave us a hard fought silver.

    Erin said; “I was so proud of her. I had hoped we’d done enough but unfortunately the scores weren’t on our side. She had a bit of stage-fright on Wednesday, but today I was really pleased, I couldn’t have asked any more of her, we went in there and gave it everything.”

    So a 22 year run comes to an end but the standards, quality and professionalism in para dressage have ridden considerably in its history and Britain has been at the forefront with others chasing. We have many new names coming up, both equine and human, so the future is full of promise to get back where we were.  The mission in Tryon was to secure Paralympic qualification and a team medal so both objectives achieved.

    Para Director Julie Frizzell commented; “It’s been an inspiring two days to see our riders under microscopic scrutiny with the world’s eyes on them. I couldn’t be more proud of the dedication, teamwork and tenacity of our riders and the team involved to support the athletes, both human and equine. For decades we’ve worked relentlessly to constantly raise the standards so a silver medal is an outstanding achievement. After two exceptionally competitive days and four tests, to finish 0.6% behind a Dutch team who all rode to their maximum potential, is something to be proud of and paints and incredibly bright future for the next generation of our para riders and horses.”

    Full results – click here

    Photo copyright Jon Stroud

    Sophie Wells and Natasha Baker will be in action on Saturday in the Freestyle – we’ll update you with times as soon as they’re available via social media.

  8. Day two: LeMieux National Championships

    High winds and showers continued into day two of the LeMieux National Championships at Stoneleigh, but this didn't detract from a fabulous second day of top class dressage. 

    Saracen Horse Feeds Inter I

    Charlotte Dujardin completed the Small Tour double today with her stunning grey mare, Florentina, when they topped a highly competitive Saracen Horse Feeds Inter I Championship. They were of course victors in yesterday’s Fairfax SaddlesPrix St Georges Championship.

    Despite ‘Flora’ being out of the show ring since June with Charlotte’s busy summer calendar, the pair have quickly found their competition stride and no one would bet against them taking tomorrow’s Freestyle and the Saracen Horse Feeds Supreme Champion title.

    Charlotte was clearly delighted with her mare’s work today’s challenging conditions; “There was lots of blowing and flapping in there but she wasn’t bothered and was incredibly brave. Today she was more consistent but we did have an issue in the halt and rein back but otherwise, I’m really pleased with her. There’s not another show in the world that gives an atmosphere like this one and if you go well here, you know you have a good horse.

    “I’ve had her since she was two and in the early days, it felt like a long wait until she’d be competing but it’s scary how quickly the time has gone; she’s been incredible and has such a fantastic temperament,” the Gloucestershire rider said.

    Charlotte bought Flora from a Brightwells sale and for the first time, Brightwells will be hosting a sale on Saturday night of around twenty foals selected by the Anglo European Studbook so it could be a chance for someone to pick up a future Stoneleigh champion at Stoneleigh!

    In a close battle for the remaining podium places, it was two further Carl Hester pupils who won through. Runners up place went to Hannah Biggs with her own Britsh-bred Don Caledonia on 71.44% and Katie Bailey, riding Leslie Forlee’s Bocelli IV completed the top three on a score of 71.21%.

    Dodson & Horrell Novice Silver 

    Self-employed Dorset rider Danielle Rhodes topped a great few weeks with a win in the Dodson & Horrell Novice Silver Championship with Denise Kersley’s stunning Jannick. Just last weekend they were crowned the Nettex CHAPS champions at Novice level at Bury Farm and in a quick turnaround headed to Warwickshire.

    First to go after lunch, Danielle rode a powerful test with the pinto cross Friesian and despite a blip in one canter transition, judges Fiona Lace, Penelope Lang and Jane Peberdy were suitable impressed to award 72.43%.

    “He’s amazing – just fabulous!” said Danelle. “We had a hiccup when he struck off on the wrong leg in canter…twice and I’m gutted about that but it was his best trot work ever. I really wanted to do well today and I rode for the win; it’s such a high standard here. We’ve made real progress together in the last few months and he just loves to be in between the white boards. The work we’ve done and recent big events have definitely given him the mental capacity to deal with today. I’m over the moon with him!” she concluded.

    Danielle headed to Dorset some four years ago and started working with race horse trainer Paul Nichols to earn some money while she built up her client base and one of her first was Denise, who also owns prolific traditional gypsy cob stallion Tiger Tim. Danielle was also head girl for Irish event rider Austin O’Connor but declared dressage was definitely her first choice discipline these days.

    The duo's championship season continues as they head to the Petplan Equine Area Festival Finals next Friday.

    Just behind in second spot was Charlotte-Elizabeth Barber and CE Florioso on 72.03% and third went to Katie Lawrence riding Donaulied with 70.67%.

    TopSpec Medium Silver

    This afternoon, beneath bright, blustery skies, the TopSpec Medium Silver title was won in convincing style by LeMieux National Championship newcomer Nathalie Wahlund. On her Championship debut, she rode an assured and expressive test aboard Oldencraig Echo O to head the class with a score of 70.83% from judges Pam Bushell (E), Judy Firmston-Williams (H), Jennie Loriston-Clarke (C), Sara Jane Lanning and (M) Mary-Anne Horn (B).

    “I’m so happy and today was so much fun,” said Nathalie, clearly delighted with their result. “It’s a first Nationals for me and Echo so I’m super happy! He was maybe a bit tense to begin with, just before he went in, but once inside the arena he grew in confidence. He was just really good and there were no mistakes - it was a clear round and the trot work felt fantastic.”

    Oldencraig Echo O (by Zjengis Khan) is a nine-year-old Dutch gelding owned by Penny Brinsley, and has been ridden by 21-year-old Nathalie for the past 18 m0nths.

    Nathalie originates from Sweden and works as a rider at Oldencraig Equestrian in Surrey where she trains with British Olympian Vicky Thompson-Winfield and is gaining much competition experience aboard the centre’s horses. “Vicky is a great trainer and I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without her.”

    Echo is described as 'super fun to ride'. "He loves to work and he can go on forever. He’s a real worker and is a very sweet horse. We put a lot of work in so it’s very satisfying to get this reward."

    Looking to the future, Nathalie says; “I would like to start PSG this year, then maybe next year do some Premier Leagues.”

    Dodson & Horrell Novice Gold

    The Dodson & Horrell Novice Gold Championship final is always a good class to watch and this year was no exception. A competitive line up of horses, with an average age of five-and-a-half, came forward and the quality was high. The clear winner however was Alex Hardwick with her mother Sally’s diminutive Uphill-sired gelding, Glasgow MH.

    World Class Podium Potential rider Alex and the gorgeous seven-year-old were awarded a score of 73.14% ahead of Dannie Morgan and Headmore Figaro (71.85%) and Alice Oppenheimer with Headmore Bella Ruby (71.40%) in third.

    “He’s the most unbelievable, unflappable horse,” said Alex, clearly delighted. “He’s such a cool dude and I think he just proves that size really doesn’t matter. He might be only 16 hands but he can trot like an 18.2hh horse. And he’s got the most incredible brain on him. You just can’t fault him – he’s an absolute joy.”

    Glasgow, who is known at home as Buddy, was bought last year for Alex’s mum, Sally, who gave the ride to Alex for the Regionals. “I’ll be quite sad to give the ride back to Mum to be honest,” laughed Alex. “I had a reason to hold on to him when we won the Regionals, but the now the Nationals is done…! But she’s going to have so much fun with him.”

    Talking about the test Alex said; “We didn’t go full power, because he’s never done a championship before and he’s only competed a handful of times. The few times he has been to a show, he’s always scored well and he has so much ability that we’ve not had to push him and compete too much, so I just wanted to do a really nice clear round to give him good experience. He’s goes in the Childéric Saddles Elementary Gold on Sunday and I’m really looking forward to that, but he can have a duvet day tomorrow!”

    “He has an amazing walk and a sensational trot, and it’s so natural to him. He’s my little red rocket,” said Alex, who trains with her Mum on a daily basis as well as with Carl Hester. “We get a nice tune-up from Carl. My mum always says it’s like a little bit of fairy dust sprinkled on top of you. You come away thinking ‘he makes it so easy’ – it’s incredible what he does.”

    Equissage Pulse Para Gold

    Stellar scores, sun, wind and rain were the theme for the Equissage Pulse Para Gold Championships amidst changeable weather conditions in the Horse Health arena. The five champions all produced standout tests to impress the judges panel consisting of John Robinson, Nicky Barratt and Mary Robins.

    Grade I

    Grade I winners Mari Durward-Akhurst and Sky O’Hara scored 70.71% to pip Diane Green and Susanna Wade to the top step of the podium. Speaking about her winning performance 24-year-old Mari said, ‘I was really, really pleased with the test today, I thought everything came together. Even with the wind and the rain, I think it was probably our best test together! We’ve been working really hard at home to get him more through from behind and more collected. He was much more together today and we managed to keep the activity as well.”

    Dancing partner Sky O’Hara has been with Mari for six years, having stayed much longer than the original one year loan agreement much to his rider’s delight. “Sky is 19 but you’d never know it! He’s an absolute dude and a bit of a comedian,” she added about his infectious character.

    Mari is now aiming for European Championship team selection in 2019 following a very successful season this year.

    Grade II
    Rising star Georgia Wilson captured the grade II competition in style recording 72.50% with her own Midnight II (by Hilkens Black Delight).

    23-year-old Georgia is a pupil of none other than the queen of para dressage herself, Sophie Wells. “I was a bit nervous about competing today without her guidance,” admitted Georgia, “Training with Sophie is really good fun, she’s helped me a lot.”

    The elegant duo earned themselves a spot on the World Equestrian Games shortlist following a season full of superb tests. Speaking about today’s top draw ride Georgia said, “She did everything I asked her to do today. Our transitions were smooth, she was really good.”

    Grade III
    Amanda Shirtcliffe took a one-two in the grade III class with Jon Mcfarland’s experienced mare New Princess claiming the victory ahead of young talent Active Testarossa.

    “I was really pleased with the young horse [Active Testarossa] today,” Amanda said, “She’s not really ready for this level yet but she went really well and did great pirouettes. Princess is established at the level so today was all about producing a good test. She was a bit vocal which ruined a few of the movements but other than that she performed really well!

    “We’ve been working on improving our impulsion and getting a little more consistency with her [New Princess] contact at home. She’s very chilled out at home but she gets a bit of a sense of occasion when we go out – Princess by name princes by nature, she likes to come out and show off!”

    With future games in mind, Amanda is planning on focusing more on her young star. “Princess has done me proud, she’s been a good stalwart for internationals. I’ll start concentrating on bringing the young horse through the levels now.”

    Grade IV
    Blind para dressage rider Nicola Naylor aced her test with Ferrari V scoring 69.51% to take home the winners’ spoils in the grade IV Championship.

    Nicola credited Ferrari’s boost in confidence as a factor in their success today, “He was really fab today, he was much more confident and felt great. We’ve been working on getting him a bit more balanced and a bit more composed and collected, I think it’s really paid off.”

    Talking about their future Nicola said, “We’ve applied to join the world class program and I think he’s ready to push on now. I’ve had him since he was five, I think he’s reached a point now where we can see if we can do some team events with him – which would be really great!”

    The win was a bit of a surprise for Nicola who said that whilst she had hoped to do well she definitely didn’t expect the success! Second place went to Izzy Palmer with Sophie Wells’ Touchdown M whilst Marcelle Ward took the third place accolade with Dornroeschen.

    Grade V
    Charlotte Cundall and Brenda Reddy’s BamBam were victorious in the grade V competition; their score of 68.53% left them just one mark in front of Charlotte’s other ride, LJT Simply Red.

    Speaking to British Dressage after the prize giving Charlotte said, “The weather conditions weren’t ideal with the high winds! I rode last night and Bam was quite hot but it worked to my advantage, we had a bit more impulsion and expression than usual! I was thrilled with him.”

    The partnership have been working together since December 2017, in a busy debut season they’ve seen numerous personal best scores and a first international win. “I’m so grateful to Brendy Reddy who owns BamBam. My day was made slightly easier by Sophie [Wells] being at WEG and doing an amazing job out there! I love coming here and it’s been a really great end to our season, it’s been a good 2018,” Charlotte concluded.

    For full results click here.


  9. Day one: LeMieux National Championships

    A slightly wet and windy forecast at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships didn't dampen the spirits of those competing and enjoying a day out at Stoneleigh Park. The first five Championships were full of thrills, outstanding results and top quality competition (20 September 2018). 

    Equine Construction Advanced Medium Silver

    Scoring an emphatic win in the first class of the LeMieux National Dressage Championships was Dannie Morgan with Lisa Morgan’s Knoxxs Figaro. The eye-catching pair scored 71.97% to top the Equine Construction Advanced Medium Silver Championship judged by Nikki Herbert, Linda Whetstone, Mary-Anne Horn, Sue McMahon and Jane McGarel-Groves.

    Dannie, hailing from Southampton, was a dual winner at the Bicton Summer Regionals with ‘Fig’, an eight-year-old Dutch bred gelding by Jazz. Speaking about today’s winning test Dannie said, “He’s a phenomenal talent, it’s really nice when you’re sat on a horse with that sort of ability. He’s quite a nervous horse but we’re delighted with how he’s coped here. The changes were super today, they’re starting to feel much more established and he was very relaxed about them.”

    Having only made their Advanced Medium debut in June, a Championship win at this level appears even more impressive.

    Proud owner Lisa Morgan purchased her star horse as an unrideable four-year-old; her persistence and faith in her gelding’s quality paid off after a tricky start to his career. The elegant chestnut spent time with jockey Jamie Jenkinson, as well as dressage riders Kate Smith and Amy Schiessl at the start of his ridden journey.

    Lisa was full of praise for Dannie following his test, “The main thing today was that he was much more relaxed and able to cope with the environment, that’s all down to Dannie’s riding – he’s so laid back with him and that passes on to the horse. To be able to see him go so relaxed today is just mega.

    “It’s something else to see Dannie win with him and see the horse so happy. Being here is amazing but actually I can’t describe how special that felt today.”

    The winning partnership also paid credit to their team at home as well as Nicky Barrett who’s played an invaluable role in the development of their Champion horse.

    To complete a brilliant day, with Maeve Morris and Headmore Footloose crowned Backinaction Preliminary Silver Champion the news broke that the talented Dannie backed the winning horse aged three. Congratulations Dannie!

    Second place in the Equine Construction Advanced Medium Silver went to Jayne Turney with Charlotte Dujardin’s Cruz III whilst Cornelia O’Mahony and Adam Signy's Formidable claimed third.

    BackInAction Prelim Silver

    Working rider Maeve Morris took full advantage of being the final competitor down the centreline in the BackInAction Prelim Silver. Riding Headmore Footloose, who’s bred and owned by her step mum Nicola Morris, Maeve stormed to victory with a performance which impressed judges Fiona Lace, Paul Hayler and John Robinson for a final score of 72.64%, a full two percent ahead of her nearest rival.

    “I never ever expected this; we just came for a nice day out!” said a delighted Maeve. Five year old ‘Eric’, by Florencio, is stabled at the Headmore Stud and Maeve is trained by Alice Oppenheimer. They have to fit training around Maeve’s full time London-based property development role which she commutes to daily from Hampshire.

    Eric carries the Headmore prefix as his dam, Donato, was bought from the Oppenheimers as three day old foal and went on to be ridden by Nicola. He was bred using embryo transfer and they also have a yearling out of Donato, who’s now 18.

    Proud trainer Alice Oppenheimer added; “They’ve just gone to a whole new level since the Regionals. We’ve work hard on the stretching in the free walk – I should think Eric is bored of that movement now but it’s really paid off today. They were consistent throughout and it was a lovely picture.”

    Amy Daye was second with her own Prince William MBS on 70.51% while Jordan Kavanagh finished on the same score with his own Fluer but was just a mark behind on collectives to finish third.

    Childéric Saddles Elementary Silver

    Gloucestershire rider Robert Barker took a one-two in the Childéric Saddles Elementary Silver Championship on day one of the LeMieux National Championships. Riding Chloe Walton’s Fidelius (by Fidertanz), he claimed the top spot with a score of 73.75% as well as securing second with Alison Haste’s Rousseau-sired mare, Woodlander Romance (71.56%).

    “I’m very pleased with both horses,” said Robert after the prize-giving. “I felt they would do well but just wanted to do two good tests for the stages of their training. To win is such a bonus. I’m very happy – over the moon”

    The blustery conditions that whipped across the Stoneleigh Showground didn’t pose much of a problem for the top-placed pairs. “He was a bit tense last night and she was very relaxed, then today, she was very relaxed and he a bit tense. But they were both very focused in the arena. They were both very good in there, and I’m pleased actually that I didn’t let them down,” he smiled.

    Robert is based in Upleaden, Gloucestershire and is stable rider for Charlotte Dujardin. “I’m very fortunate to ride some of her young horses,” he said

    Fidelius, now seven-years-old, has been ridden by Robert since February 2017. The pair were second in the Novice Silver here last year and are now working to step up to Advanced Medium. “Fidelius is a little ahead of six-year-old Woodlander Romance in his development, but they’re both lovely horses that try very hard,” he added

    Cavalor Intermediate II

    Lara Butler claimed the penultimate class of day one at Stoneleigh – the Cavalor Intermediate Championship. She rode a beautifully fluent test aboard Wifried and Ursula Bechtolsheimer’s Kristjan for a score of 71.60% ahead of Georgia Stokes with Talented Mr Ripley in second and Sadie Smith with Keystone Dynamite making up the top three.

    “They were very tricky conditions today,” said Lara. “The wind certainly picked up this afternoon, so I’m really pleased with him considering the flapping flags behind him. It literally sounded like something was going to explode behind us we came up the centreline. But he was so good, and he was focused.

    “We had a few little blips - he spooked at one of the flower plots that had blown over - but you can’t complain in these conditions, and he produced everything else perfectly for me. We’ve been working hard at home getting everything secure in his mind and in my mind, so that it’s all natural to us, and hopefully we showed that in the arena.

    Describing the best bits of her performance with the 13-year-old son of Polarion, Lara said; “The trot half passes are always one of his highlights – he finds them really easy. He just sort of floats across, then floats the other way. And he’s so secure in his changes.”

    Lara acquired the ride on Kristjan as a six-year-old and has trained him under the tutelage of the Bechtolsheimer family. “Our next thing from here will be to go to Grand Prix which is really exciting.

    ”I won the Inter II title here a few years back with Rubin Al Asad, so it’s a good sign,” she smiled. And here today, this means a lot. I’ve come second to Charlotte [Dujardin] a lot of the time at Small Tour, so it’s nice for him [Kristjan] to have his moment.”

    Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold

    On her return from Tryon, Charlotte Dujardin produced her usual magic in the Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold class filling not one, but two of the top spots.

    Her winning ride, Floretina, impressed once again in the LeMieux arena to add another title to a growing collection. The striking grey by Vivaldi scored 76.18% to finish two percent ahead of stable mate River Rise Nisa, co-owned by breeder Sarah Tyler-Evans. Charlotte also grabbed the fourth place ribbon with Carl Hester’s Brioso II to complete a great first day at the Championships.

    Speaking about her return to British soil and British competition Charlotte said, “I just got back on Sunday, I’m really lucky that Sadie Smith and Katie Bailey have kept them ticking over while I was away. It’s been a very quick turnaround! It was certainly not my normal Championship preparation but I’m so happy with them having not ridden for ten days.

    “I’ve trained them and I know them all really well but the fine tuning was missing a little today, a couple of mistakes happened that wouldn’t normally happen but I’m still really happy overall. The weather definitely had an affect too – I’ve gone from hot and humid to gale force winds… hurricane Florence has come to find me here!”

    The multi-medalled starlet was full of applause for Florentina, who hasn’t cantered up the centre line since Bolesworth due to a flat out calendar and World Equestrian Games preparations. “She’s a lovely horse who really tries, she’s really reliable,” Charlotte enthused.

    A WEG takeover saw fellow team medallist Emile Faurie claim third place with rising star Café’s Caletta (Café au Lait x Calato). The nine-year-old bay mare displayed all the signs for a successful future at Grand Prix level and her potential was reflected in the score – 73.71%.

    To view full results from day one at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships click here.
    Photos © Kevin Sparrow/Tanja Davis



  10. Nettex CHAPS Associated Championships

     The inaugural Nettex Coloured Horse and Pony Associated Championships lit up Bury Farm last weekend to start the ten-strong series in style.

    Taking home a duo of titles and numerous placings was Somerset-based rider Danielle Rhodes. Danielle, who runs a livery yard and competition business at Kingfisher Equestrian, won both the Nettex Novice Associated Championship and the Nettex Elementary Associated Championship with two stunning CHAPS horses owned by Denise Kersley.

    In the Elementary class it was the handsome Jannick to claim the win with a fantastic score of 71.35%. The striking seven-year-old Pinto cross Friesian gelding also placed second in the Elementary Championship behind Danielle’s other champion, Tiger Tim. No stranger to success, Tiger Tim added yet another accolade to his record with a respectable 68.79%.

    Speaking about her superb show on Facebook Danielle said, “Another FANTASTIC week for Denise Kersley's boys. Firstly a lovely write up in Horse and Hound for their efforts at the Senior Home International. Then today we went to the Nettex CHAPS Associated Championships at Bury Farm. Jannick WON the Novice with 71. 35%... Tim WON the Elementary with 68.71% and Jannick finished a very close 2nd with 68.36% Tim then went on to take 2nd in the Medium! Huge thankyou to FL Photography for the gorgeous pictures and Nettex for the amazing prizes.”

    Danielle will head to Stoneleigh Park this week to contest the Dodson & Horrell Novice Silver class and the Childeric Saddles Elementary Class.

    The highest score of the show belonged to Rebecca Hutchinson with Shanbally Shadow who scored 72.58% on their way to a win in the Nettex Preliminary Associated Championship. 24-year-old Rebecca impressed the judges panel made up of Carolyn Alston and Ann Nicell to top the class of 29.

    Tanya Slade’s eye-catching skewbald Tango III was triumphant at Medium level after the pair presented a superb test worthy of 69.92%. It’s been a great year for the combination who’ve enjoyed many strong results at Medium and Advanced Medium, including at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships, Summer Regional Championships and Petplan Equine Area Festivals.

    15-year-old Katherine Kirby enjoyed a first Championship win with her charming Thoroughbred x Cob Archie XIX in the Introductory class; 68.58% was the score for the perfectly matched pair. Second place in this class belonged to Phoebe Cornish with Smartie Boy.

    British Dressage thanks the team at Bury Farm for a wonderful Championship event as well as title sponsors Nettex for their generous support of the Associated Championship series.


    1st Katherine Kirby with Archie XIX, 68.58%

    1st Rebecca Hutchinson with Shanbally Shadow, 72.58%

    1st Danielle Rhodes with Jannick, 71.35%

    1st Danielle Rhodes with Tiger Tim, 68.79%

    1st Tanya Slade with Tango III, 69.92%

    For full results click here

    Photo kindly provided by Fae Loudoun Photography. 

Brahan Dressage

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