BD Winter Regionals: Easton & Otley College
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High scoring winners dominated across the levels at Easton & Otley College in Norfolk (19 – 23 February), where the Eastern Winter Regional Championships’ organising team earned high praise from competitors and connections over five action-packed days.
Alex Hardwick enjoyed a “dream outing” hitting outstanding form and claiming no less than three regional titles and several placings on plus-70% scores, including winning both the Equi-Trek Elementary Gold and TheraPlate UK Medium Gold with Sally Hardwick’s seven-year-old Dutch-bred gelding Glasgow (by Uphill) - pictured - and the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold with the Bechtolsheimers’ 17.3hh Trakehner Polar Star III (by Polarian).
It’s been a crazy but truly memorable five days, one of the best weeks of our lives, the horses all tried their hearts out and I feel incredibly blessed.
Alex travelled to the East Anglia venue with four horses accompanied by “my Supermum” Sally, who was also well placed in the Advanced Medium Gold championship on her seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding Dance On Top (by De Niro).
The diminutive 16.1hh Glasgow (Buddy) was bought from his breeder in Holland two years ago and was originally intended to be Sally’s ride, but since forming a special partnership with Alex, including winning the Dodson & Horrell Novice Gold title at last year’s LeMieux National Dressage Championships, the Hertfordshire-based rider is delighted to be given the opportunity to keep the ride as they head to another championships.
“I love this little guy, he’s the perfect package - mini but mighty! Like a wind-up toy; he just keeps getting better and better and is such a happy, jolly person, he makes me smile every time I ride him,” said Alex, a former winner of the Young Professionals Award and member of the European Young Rider team in 2012, who trains with both her mother and Carl Hester.
Alex took on the ride of the talented nine-year-old 18hh-plus “gentle giant” Polar Star III (who she affectionately calls Amazing Albert) two years ago after being offered the opportunity by Dr Bechtolsheimer.
“For such a big horse, he’s incredibly athletic and his desire to work is amazing. He’s my perfect horse; when I ride him it feels like he gives me wings and I know there’s even more to come!” said Alex. “Riding two such different horses makes it interesting. Albert feels like a Formula One power house, whereas Buddy is more like driving a smooth Mercedes S Class that you can push forward through the gears – it’s certainly going to be an exciting trip to the winters!”
Antonia Brown was also on a high following her outstanding win in the Blue Chip Novice Gold scoring 76.66% with Sara Lucas’s 17.1hh five-year-old gelding by Blue Hors Zack, SJL Baks Zacco.
Antonia was also placed third in the same class on 70.18% with her own six-year-old coloured gelding Dubel Colours (by Dreamboy) who is now offered for sale, and second in the Advanced Medium Championships with Sara Lucas’s 12-year-old DHI Buddy (by Trento B).
Bought from the Brightwells Elite Dressage sales at Addington in 2017 as a three-year-old, Zacco has proved a consistent hi-scorer both in the Shearwater Four-year-old Young Horse Championship last year (placed third with Dan Greenwood) and novice classes with Antonia, who describes him as “super talented”.
“He feels like a horse which has lived life before,” said Antonia. “He’s incredibly balanced, finds everything easy and feels like he’ll be able to do it all; it’s a real privilege to ride him.”
In spite of having got up at 3.15am to set off at 4.30am from their Northamptonshire base to Easton with three horses, Antonia and husband Tim were full of praise for the venue and its organisers.
“It was well worth the early start and a three-hour journey – Duncan [Whitney-Groom] and his team were outstanding, providing great facilities and a good atmosphere with mounted prizegivings which were organised in such a way that it was a positive experience.
“We also appreciated the updates and video clips posted daily on their Facebook page, which meant that supporters and owners like Sarah who was away, could still keep in touch with what was happening.”
Former Petplan Equine Area Festival Elementary Open champions in 2016 and third in last year’s Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Bronze Championships at Hartpury, Christine Cockerton with Evaldo scored an impressive double taking the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver and Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver regional titles.
Christine, a McTimoney Chiropractor from Braintree, Essex, has produced her striking 10-year-old Dutch-bred gelding by Vivaldo through the grades from four-year-old classes.
Following his KBIS Preliminary Silver regional title win at Addington earlier this month, 41-year old James Boulton from Lincolnshire made his mark once again taking a second title with his big moving 17.1hh Ampére-bred mare Florence PFB. This well matched combination impressed winning the Blue Chip Novice Silver regional title with 70.4% by a clear margin.
Gracie Catling and her striking 14hh dun gelding Dalyhill Rocker, who is by the renowned Connemara sire Inverin Rocky, were also clear winners scoring 73.51% sending them forward to the finals of the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver at NAF Five Star Winter Championships at Hartpury (3 - 7 April).
Thanks go to the dedicated team at Easton & Otley College, the Winter Championships class sponsors and all involved with another exciting Regional Championships.
Congratulations to all qualified combinations and to everyone who took part.
KBIS Preliminary Silver
Kate Low with Maggies Hope, 71.32%
Blue Chip Novice Silver
James Boulton with Florence PFB 70.4%
Blue Chip Novice Gold
Antonia Brown with SJL Baks Zacco, 76.66%
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver
Gracie Catling with Dalyhill Rocker 73.51%
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold
Tahley Reeve-Smith with Gianni Versace, 77.13%
Equi-Trek Elementary Silver
Trisha Poison with Crime Suspect 70.05%
Equi-Trek Elementary Gold
Alex Hardwick with Glasgow MH, 76.35%
Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Silver
Lynn Perry with Starmaker, 71.92%
Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Gold
Nikki Barker with History 74.55%
TheraPlate UK Medium Silver
Margaret Phizacklea with Good Guy, 70.58%
TheraPlate UK Medium Gold
Alex Hardwick with Glasgow MH, 75.72%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver
Lily Payne with Beckhouse Cancara 73.77%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold
Mandy Day with Glomf, 69.05%
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver
Christine Cockerton with Evaldo, 69.38%
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold
Alex Hardwick with Polar Star III 74.16%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver
Christine Cockerton with Evaldo 75.16%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold
Natalie Allen with Fichellio, 71.94%
Magic Prix St Georges Gold
Paul Friday with Hawtins Horatio, 69.38%
Superflex Intermediate I Gold
Nikki Barker with Durable, 73.24%