Posted on Monday, April 28, 2014 by Heather Dodd
Photos by kind permission of Kevin Sparrow
Day one at the NAF Five Star Dressage Championships at Hartpury in Gloucestershire (9-13 April 2014) produced 11 new champions in the next chapter of dressage history. The sun shone for most of the day at the Gloucestershire venue and there were some amazing battles inside the white boards.
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Restricted
Lucy (17) and ‘Donald’ as he’s known to his friends, produced a clean, expressive performance for a score of 70.48% to edge ahead of showing supremo and newfound dressage star, Louise Bell and W Get Smart who were forced to settle for second. “We didn’t make any mistakes, which was what I was aiming for,” said Lucy modestly. “I’m so happy with him, he was very good.”
Donald, who Lucy has trained herself with the support of parents David and Serena, is in his first year at advanced medium level. This follows a successful 2013 during which he and Lucy clinched the novice open freestyle title here at Hartpury – success which can be attributed to the partnership they have formed. “He has a lot of character but is a very genuine horse who always tries to please. I was won over by his character as a foal so picked him out then to keep him for myself.”
Lucy, who is currently at college doing a business course and rides four horses in her spare time, plans to compete Donald in Premier League shows and work towards prix st georges at the end of the year.
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Restricted Music Freestyle
Dawn Grundy from Accrington, Lancashire, was crowned Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Restricted Music Freestyle Champion riding Rough Lee So Schufro, her seven-year-old Don Schufro gelding to win the class. They scored 72.31% to head the 18-strong field of national finalists.
The pair performed their freestyle routine to a light and elegant Perez Prado and Mozart soundtrack compiled by Janet Zaldats. “I’m thrilled with him,” smiled Dawn. “He was great in there today – we really enjoyed ourselves. He has a mega canter and starting with the canter makes his trot even bigger and more forward. He has three strong paces and finds the work easy.”
The athletic young chestnut also known as ‘Arnie’ was bred by Dawn’s partner, Steven Barr, who shows sports horses. Being a late developer, the horse was backed as a four-year-old, and when his potential as a dressage horse became evident, the reins were handed to Dawn who’s formed a great partnership with the young talent. “Arnie’s lovely as a character. He loves to work and is really quick to pick something up. You can teach him something at the start of the week, ask again at the end of the week, and he’s got it.” Arnie and schoolteacher Dawn, who trains with Sarah Kingwells, won the Riding Clubs national dressage championship in 2013 and the horse has been competing ‘under rules’ for a mere 11 months.
Spillers Medium Restricted Music Freestyle
Riding Cleopatra II, Judy Firmston-Williams’ seven-year-old KWPN mare, BEF Excel Talent rider Daisy Coakley posted 75.50% for pole position in the Spillers Medium Restricted Music Freestyle Championship.
21-year-old Daisy, who combines a successful eventing career as well as dressage, piloted the powerful dark bay mare to victory with an emotive routine to dramatic film music. This was the fifth national title so far for the talented combination: “It feels a bit surreal,” she said, “but we came here well prepared. We devised the freestyle to play to her strengths. Her medium canter is very good and one part where we go medium canter across the diagonal then into half pass goes perfectly with the music.”
“The mare’s starting to develop physically as well as becoming hotter,” explained Daisy. “She’s always very soft and supple and because she has a good temperament, she doesn’t create too much tension in her body.”
Petplan Equine Area Festival Elementary Open Championship
Tattenhall-based dressage rider Gemma Abram rode her seven-year-old home-bred gelding Spitfire to win the Petplan Equine Elementary Open Championship with 74.05%, more than four percent ahead of her nearest rival.
“He was really, really good! He felt like he thought about his training rather than just doing a test for a test’s sake,” said Gemma, obviously thrilled. ”I nearly forgot my way as I was concentrating so hard but he was such a superstar! Doing two rounds really suits him. The first test I can take risks to see how hard I can push before he says no, and then we’re set for the second.”
“To be honest, I never dreamt it could happen! It’s amazing!” smiled Gemma who, with Spitfire, won the Petplan novice open here last year. When asked ‘maybe medium level in 2015?’ she said “Hopefully…if he keeps his ideas up!”
Spitfire, stable name Winston, is a great example of a ‘home grown’ success story. When Gemma’s part Friesian mare had a layoff through injury, her vet recommended putting her in foal. “We liked the Rubinstein and Sandro Hit bloodlines and we just opened Horse & Hound one day and there was an advert for Santana who had both!” With the support of trainer Tracey Tomlinson, the rest is history.
GFS Elementary Open Music Freestyle
Prolific dressage rider Jo Hamilton from West Lothian and Corchapin, her own and Lady Hope’s seven-year-old Negro-sired gelding, achieved the highest score of the show so far – 77.88% – for a resounding victory in the GFS Elementary Open Music Freestyle Championship.
“I’m so thrilled with him – I got the big trot I’ve been dreaming of,” said Jo. “He’s so great at home but I don’t always get the same in the arena. Today was a step forward though. He’s such a trier and any tension is because he’s so frightened of getting it wrong. I like to think of him as the Duracell bunny of dressage!”
“He has the perfect temperament and is the nicest horse in the stable – you can’t fault him,” said Jo. “Canter is always a highlight for him and today he came back for me and really carried himself. I could ride the whole way and didn’t have to do any nursing!” The talented partnership performed to a Simon and Garfunkel compilation including hits Feeling Groovy and Bright Eyes.
Jo arrived from an eight hour journey from Scotland – a route she takes regularly to visit her trainer, dressage maestro Carl Hester. She arrived in time for the pre-competition arena walk but it didn’t go to plan. “He doesn’t like people above him and was quite frightened as he thought there were gremlins in the Hartpury Arena!”
Jo and ‘Colin’, as the striking chestnut is known, have an impressive championship record. They won the novice at the 2012 summer national championships, last year they won the elementary at the summer nationals and now their success today. Jo is now schooling the grand prix movements at home with Colin who looks to be a potential big tour prospect.
Petplan Equine Area Festival Advanced Medium Open Championships
Oxfordshire rider Paula Cooke and her own Longacre Kwinten scored a comfortable victory with 68.68% in the second Petplan Equine Championship of the day. The Dutch-bred gelding by Lucitano was bought by Paula as a four year old from Astrid Bolton and she’s trained him right up to this level. Paula said; He was good today. He can be really hot and tense and there is a lot to look at in the arena so it could have gone any way. Sometimes he’s overly flamboyant and other times he can be flat but we hit the mark today. It’s taken a long time to establish him so he’s consistent in the ring but everything went right today.”
Paula made the journey up with her groom this morning as she was competing in an earlier class and Longacre Kwiten had to spend the morning standing on the lorry but it didn’t affect his performance! For Paula, riding is really a hobby and she tries to keep it low-key; “It keeps me busy!” she added. The thought of moving up to PSG is an exciting one for Paula; “I can’t wait to dust my tails off!” she exclaimed.
Full results are available on the website www.bdchampionships.com