A bumper bank holiday at Somerford
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Top sporting action got underway on bank holiday weekend at Somerford Park Premier League which welcomed an array of Britain’s dressage elite (25 – 28 May 2018).
Friday’s billing incorporated three young horse classes sponsored by Shearwater with wins for Becky Moody, Jennifer Martell and Mount St John rider Jayden Brown. While Michael Eilberg secured a second win for Mount St John in the TopSpec Medium 73 with Valencia. Lisa Marriott and Valucio were the final winners on Friday claiming victory in the Advanced Medium sponsored by Equine Construction – Andrews Bowen.
Saturday basked in sunshine as the bank holiday continued – Somerford hosted a number of young horse classes, wins going to Ben Martin, Melissa Chapman, Michael Eilberg and Emma Woolley.
The long trip from Gloucestershire paid dividends for Levi Hunt – claiming the Saracen Horse Feeds Inter I with his top horse Abbey Tiron, owned Glenys Hemming.
“It’s a great show to come to,” said a thrilled Levi. “I came here wanting to boost our confidence and our scores and he just pulled me around, in a good way! He was confident and focused and I think that has a lot to do with the surfaces here.”
Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John VIP enjoyed a win in the Equine Construction Advanced Medium, which took place on Somerford’s new arena which has proved popular with young horses. “I was really happy, it was a test I decided to do just a couple of days ago and I was really pleased, there were some green moments but [I'm] really happy with her,” said Charlotte who also won the Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges with Florentina VI.
“Florentina did a Prix St Georges – I was happy with it, it was nearly mistake-free but this is only her fourth PSG. Again I need to do some more test riding with her – and she is only eight,” commented Charlotte.
Talking about Somerford and the work that has been carried out over the winter, Charlotte went on to say, “I can’t believe the improvements they have made to Somerford – extra arenas, brand new stabling – it’s getting better and better and I hope one day we can get an international here!”
Emile Faurie enjoyed a great day on Saturday with a super second place on a particular favourite, the eight-year-old Café’s Caletta in the PSG. “She’s not always been the easiest to train but that was only her fourth ever dressage test. She has enormous talent”
“I call her ‘big fat mama’ because she is one – but she has an amazing temperament and she’s come such a long way – I just love here. She has so much potential for Grand Prix.”
Emile and Sa Coeur took top honours in the last class on Saturday afternoon, producing an exceptional test in the Cavalor Intermediate II. They scored 71.27%. Sa Coeur has been with Emile for a year having been with a number of other riders. “He’s super talented, he was Five and Six Year Old World Champion and he’s now taking the step up to Grand Prix. This was only his second Inter II. We clicked straight away. He’s been a successful horse all his life, has all the right ingredients and now just needs to step up to the next level.”
Day three kicked off in glorious sunshine – while the rest of the country experienced a deluge of thunder storms, Somerford was fortunate to avoid them throughout the day.
A popular win on Sunday was the LeMieux Grand Prix victory for Carl Hester and Hawtins Delicato (pictured right). They produced a score of 75.12% which Carl was very happy with. “Today I got all my flying changes but had a few stalls in the piaffes!” said Carl. “It’s all swinging around at the moment while I’m just trying to find the buttons, and obviously give the horse confidence. When you see a Grand Prix it looks easy when it’s done well but it’s taken him a long time to grasp all of this and put it all together.”
Like many horses Hawtins Delicato can be affected by atmosphere and following Windsor two weeks ago the plan was always to come to Somerford and then to go to Bolesworth. “This has been a perfect show for him, he was more chilled out, Windsor – he won’t quite forget that prize giving for a few weeks yet – it was very exciting for him!”
Charlotte Dujardin was on winning form again on day three claiming the PSG with River Rise Escarla (main picture) – her score of 77.02% establishing the pair well ahead of second-placed Emile Faurie and Quentano 2 on 72.50%. Charlotte and Florentina took top honours for a second time this weekend, winning the Inter I with 72.32%.
Michael Eilberg and Mount St John Valencia also claimed their second win of the weekend in the Advanced Medium 92. While John Chubb and Wringler won the PSG Freestyle with a score of 68.58%.
Another gloriously sunny day bathed the showground on Bank Holiday Monday – and to kick off proceedings, Charlotte Dujardin produced yet another win, this time in the Inter I with Sarah Tyler-Evans’ River Rise Escarla, with the added bonus of qualifying for this September’s LeMieux National Championships.
‘Maisie’ and Charlotte have only done a handful of competitions together including the NAF Five Star Winter Championships which was the mare’s biggest to date. “I came out really happy, she’s so powerful and the changes were so big, I have to really sit deep,” commented Charlotte.
The mare was only a stand in for Monday’s Inter I and the first time she had ever done the test – not even practising at home! “It felt wobbly and I really had to nurse her through it,” said Charlotte.
The nine-hour trip from Aberdeen proved worthwhile for Eilidh Grant and Eranda Retto who claimed Monday’s Advanced Medium with a score of 71.71%. “We’ve had an ace weekend here at Somerford, it’s been really worthwhile driving down”, said Eilidh.
Michael Eilberg and Marakov claimed Monday’s Grand Prix Special with a score of 72.00%, well ahead of their nearest rival. “Someone asked me – what did I like most about the test – but to be fair I couldn’t really say one particular thing because it really just flowed from the moment we entered to the moment I saluted,” said Michael. “[I’m] Absolutely chuffed to bits with him. He’s a good seasoned campaigner and I love him to bits.”
Following their PSG Freestyle victory the previous day, John Chubb and Wringler took top honours again in Mondays Fairfax Saddles PSG with 69.30%.
Competitors were quick to praise the facilities and ongoing improvements to Somerford Park. “[I am] Thrilled with the new layout and the quality of competitors, and thanks to the volunteers who have worked tirelessly all weekend,” said Somerford Park’s Millie King. “I couldn’t be happier with the response from the riders to all the work and development that has been carried out over the winter, it’s really positive.”
Class 1: Shearwater Young Horse 4YO Qual
Becky Moody with James Bond, 8.66
Class 2: Shearwater Young Horse 5YO Qualifier
Jayden Brown with MSJ Soul Sister, 8.38
Class 3: Shearwater Young Horse 6YO Qualifier
Jennifer Martell with MSJ Zonetta, 8.16
Class 4: TopSpec Medium
Michael Eilberg with Mount St John Valencia, 77.94%
Class 5: Equine Construction Advanced Medium
Lisa Marriott with Valucio, 69.43%
Class 6: Hickstead Young Horse Nat. 5YO Qualifier
Ben Martin with Ivaya, 78.80%
Class 7: Hickstead Young Horse Nat. 6YO Qualifier
Melissa Chapman with TCE Happy Boy, 70.40%
Class 8: Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
Charlotte Dujardin with Florentina VI, 75.18%
Class 9: Equine Construction Advanced Medium
Charlotte Dujardin with Mount St John VIP, 75.44%
Class 10: Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
Levi Hunt with Abbey Tiron, 72.37%
Class 11: Cavalor Intermediate II
Emile Faurie with Sa Couer, 71.27%
Class 12: Hickstead Young Horse Int. 5YO Qualifier
Michael Eilberg with MSJ Dante VX, 80.00%
Class 13: Hickstead Young Horse Int. 6YO Qualifier
Emma Woolley with Hancock V, 80.00%
Class 14: Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
Charlotte Dujardin with River Rise Escarla, 77.02%
Class 15: Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
Charlotte Dujardin with Florentina VI, 72.32%
Class 16: LeMieux Grand Prix
Carl Hester with Hawtins Delicato, 75.12%
Class 17: Under 25 Grand Prix
Joanna Thurman-Baker with Highcliffe Apollo, 68.95%
Class 18: Pony Team Test
Sophie Taylor with George Clooney BS, 73.68%
Class 19: Equine Construction Advanced Medium
Michael Eilberg with Mount St John Valencia, 69.82%
Class 20: Prix St Georges Freestyle
John Chubb with Wringler, 68.58%
Class 21: Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
John Chubb with Wringler, 69.30%
Class 22: Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
Charlotte Dujardin with River Rise Escarla, 73.68%
Class 23: Grand Prix Special
Michael Eilberg with Marakov, 72.00%
Class 24: Pony Individual Test
Holly Kerslake with Valhallas Zorro, 72.28%
Class 25: Equine Construction Advanced Medium
Eilidh Grant with Eranda Retto, 71.71%