BD Winter Regionals: Myerscough College
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Friendly rivalry for top placings between Darcas Lever and Sarah Higgins resulted in two wins for Sarah and one for Darcas at Myerscough Winter Regionals (18 - 22 May 2021).
Sarah and Darcas are good friends and while Sarah took the Magic Prix St Georges Gold (PSG) and Superflex Intermediate I Gold titles, Darcas got her own back with a win in the Medium Gold.
Sarah’s small tour winner was Sara Rao’s Faydirmie ZH (pictured), an 11-year-old by Zardando that Sara has owned for three years. He is mainly ridden by Sara who is aiming him at the Asian Games. “Sara has been away for five months so I’m competing him to give him some extra mileage,” explained Sarah. “He’s a lovely fun horse – quite a playful character. He was a bit over the top at Wellington the week before but went very well at Myerscough. I rode nice safe tests as I felt that was what he needed.”
“Sara has done most of the work and I’ve stolen the glory!”
Darcas was reserve champion in both classes with Flying Dream II but snatched the Medium Gold from Sarah’s ride Samuel on the Keenan family’s French Noir MFS (Felix). “He’s a lovely horse with so much character and loads of presence,” commented Darcas. “There were some little niggles in the test but he was a good boy and he tried really hard. He’s got a bit of swagger and makes you smile when you get on. I feel we’re very much a team.”
Fifteen-year-old Rose Foley and Cordici K were the only other dual winners at the show, taking the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver and Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver titles. Rose and ‘Gucci’ had just returned from Wellington CDI were they contested their first international pony classes and gained some great experience.
Gucci is owned by Shona Leckie who also competed him with success up to 2017. In 2020 Rose and Gucci were Area Festival U21 Elementary Champions. Rose trains with her mum Isla who helped them work on their collection in canter which paid off at Myerscough. “He can get really strong in the arena as he loves his parties,” said Rose. “He was a lot better this weekend and stayed with me.”
Bridget Tate’s 74.71% in the KBIS Preliminary Gold on Dancing Magic (pictured below) was the highest score of the show. A tip-off from her vet that a Danish stud had gone bankrupt and the horses would be auctioned, led to a last-minute trip to Denmark and the purchase of the then five-year-old Dimaggio mare.
“She qualified at the earliest point last year which now seems like a long time ago,” said Bridget who recently left university and is working from home as a rider and instructor. “It was her first big show and we couldn’t do the arena walk, so she was very hot in the warm-up. She was nervous when she went in but she takes her confidence from her rider and was really good. One judge gave her 76% and said afterwards what a lovely horse she is and how lucky I am to have her!”
Katie Shortland was thrilled with the performance of homebred Estrella (by Mirrorman) to win the KBIS Preliminary Silver title. It is the pair’s first year of affiliated dressage so Katie went to Myerscough thinking she would be happy just to be in the top 10.
“I really enjoyed it but I never thought I’d win. I had a bad accident six years ago and I wasn’t going to ride again,” said Katie. “I met my trainer Jo Wright-Graham four years ago and without her I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.”
Greg Sims’ Prestige Italia Novice Gold winner, Waverley Fairchild, a beautiful big black Fürstenball x Sandro Hit gelding, seems destined for great things, He has only been to four competitions before but kept a cool head to score 73.15%.
Fairchild is owned by his breeder Sara Longworth of the Waverley stud and is now five years old. Greg has been riding him since he was four.
“He’s got a great attitude,” said Greg. “He’s very willing to work with you. I was pleased with how he coped with the test. He’s got such a big movement the key is getting him strong enough to be able to manage it.”
Tia Owen won the Prestige Italia Novice Silver on her mum’s Wasserfallen, a fifteen-year-old Sir Donnerhall mare her mother bought in Germany as a foal. Tia took on the ride in 2019 and the pair have been progressing up the levels together.
“She’s very chilled and loving,” said Tia. “She knows and loves her job and loves to perform. There were some areas of the test to improve – I hope to get some more power in the trot work. I’ve not been able to train during lockdown as we live in Wales and my trainer Tracey Tomlinson lives just over the border.”
“It’s the first time we’ve been to the winter championships. I’m very excited but there’s no pressure. We’re just going to take it all in and enjoy ourselves.”
There may only have been two in the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold but Helen Dutton’s Farufio (by Franklyn Sugar) was a worthy winner on 74.17%.
The homebred eight-year-old only has low mileage as Helen had a baby in early 2020 and then lockdown hampered his competition career. “He’s very tall and was quite gangly,” said Helen. “He’s taken a while to mature. I had some lessons with Matt Frost and Jess Dunn and they were really positive about him and got me going again after the baby.
“He’s a gorgeous horse in the stable. People say if he was human, they’d marry him! I backed him myself and he’s been really straightforward.”
In the best tradition of freestyle competitors, Helen used a recycled music programme she’s had for some years. “It was created over 10 years ago for another horse by Jenny Johnson at a BD dressage to music clinic. It fitted Farufio really well. If he does a bit more, he’ll have to have his own music.”
The silver section title went to Josephine Dajczak riding her mum Katherina’s horse, Hyperius. “My mum loves training and I love competing,” explained Josephine who has been riding ‘Loki’ for two years. The seven-year-old was bought when he was three and unbacked.
“He can be tricky on the ground but he’s very rideable and trainable. He was very good in his freestyle test. I think he knows his music by heart as we’ve been practicing it for a year!” Loki’s music was specially composed by Katherina. “We both love music as a hobby. Hartpury will a chance to see what high-ranked judges think of it.”
It was the pair’s first time at the regionals and Josephine, who is in the final year of a Metallurgy degree, is excited to be making their debut at the championships.
Jennifer Harkness’ Equi-Trek Elementary Gold winner was Inouk (pictured in 2020), last year’s Elementary Silver winner. They have already booked one ticket to the winter championships by winning the Solihull Area Festival at Medium Silver.
“It was such a wet day – it was like stepping out of the shower,” recalled Jennifer. “She gave me a lovely ride with no major mistakes. She likes to go and in the test she waited for me instead of trying to take control.” Jennifer works full-time as a CIO for Rubix, a large international distributor and her colleagues are very supportive of her passion for dressage. She trains with Daryl Thickitt and keeps her horses at Somerford Farm.
Lauren Williamson owns her Equi-Trek Elementary Silver winner Vancouver LG, jointly with LG Sport Horses. The pair was also second in the Elementary Freestyle silver section.
“We got a new personal best of 80.28% from the judge at C,” said a thrilled Lauren, who has been riding the nine-year-old by Connaisseur for two-and-a-half years. “It rained so much it was like a water jump at the entrance to the arena and we got absolutely drenched.”
Paul Keenan was supposed to be giving his sister’s horse Zomaar back after the regionals, but his Medium Silver title win means he can keep the ride for a bit longer. “I hadn’t ridden him for four weeks before the show as he wasn’t quite right and he was just working on the treadmill, so a few little mistakes crept in,” explained Paul. “He was really well-behaved – I had a couple of navigation errors! He gives his all when he’s competing and his trot work is awesome.”
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver honours went to Jenny Ainscough and her 11-year-old Showmaker gelding, Showstar, picking up their first regional title. “”He’s been great to train, he’s a real tryer and picks things up quickly. He loves competing and wants to perform,” said Jenny. “It’s been an ambition to do freestyle. Sue Bradshaw and Tom Hunt put together the programme which is a James Bond compilation.”
In the gold section, Sarah Williams and Fighting Boy had no competition but their qualifying score will take them off to the championships.
Becky Moody’s homebred Jagerbomb (Dante Weltino x Jazz) is Hartpury bound at Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold. “He’s pretty epic. He’s got the most fantastic temperament and shows a lot of talent for the big tour work,” said Becky. Jagerbomb won the seven-year-old international class at Myerscough earlier in the month, and also came second in his first PSG class. He was runner-up in the Elementary Gold at the LeMieux National Championships in 2020.
“Honestly, it was probably not his best test. He was not quite as goey in his trot work and I sharpened him up and he broke into canter but he got good marks for the canter work and his changes.”
Charlotte Lutener bought her Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver winner, AB Barocco, four years ago and the 11-year-old Belissimo M gelding is now training at PSG.
“He was a little bit spooky, which is not like him. He grew in confidence throughout the test and still managed a good score,” said Charlotte who trains with Jess Dunn. ‘Bertie’ has had a lot of success and in 2019 he won Myerscough regionals at Elementary and Medium Silver.
“He’s a cheeky chap and lovely to have around.”
KBIS Preliminary Gold
1. Bridget Tate and Dancing Magic, 74.71%
2. Lauren Gardener and Kruger, 68.85%
3. Rosalind Tate and Midsummer Isle Dream, 68.51%
KBIS Preliminary Silver
1. Katie Shortland and Estrella, 71.9%
2. Julia Tharratt and Dylasau Dai Harris, 69.6%
3. Lauren Crowe and Scout, 69.25%
Prestige Italia Novice Gold
1. Greg Sims and Waverley Fairchild, 73.15%
2. Jennifer Harkness and Inouk, 70.31%
3. Vikki Pengilly and Cynheidrefawr Isaac, 70.25%
Prestige Italia Novice Silver
1. Tia Owen and Wasserfallen, 71.89%
2. Sarah Edmondson and Kyaro, 71.54%
3. Rebecca McNair and Hinels Field LDS, 70.49%
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold
1. Helen Dutton and Farufio, 74.17%
2. Sue Grimes and For Vehlage, 68.52%
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver
1. Josephine Dajczak and Hyperius, 69.91%
2. Susan Price and Embla Nevada, 68.43%
3. Lauren Newland-Nell and Sabih, 67.5%
Equi-Trek Elementary Gold
1. Jennifer Harkness and Inouk, 71.82%
2. Alex Ingoe Topham and Seagry DonnaDiva, 71.46%
3. Jessica Dunn and Landin, 69.9.%
Equi-Trek Elementary Silver
1. Lauren Williamson and Vancouver LG, 75.89%
2. Ines Dearman and Ernesto, 71.51%
3. Fiona Newall and Don Romance, 71.15%
PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver
1. Rose Foley and Cordici K, 74.36%
2. Lauren Williamson and Vancouver LG, 73.21%
3. Robert Gilsenan and Camlough Mainstream, 70.38%
1. Darcas Lever and French Noir MFS, 72.43%
2. Sarah Higgins and Samuel, 72.07%
3. Sarah Williams and San Remo Hit, 69.23%
1. Paul Keenan and Zomaar, 68.33%
2. Abi Austin and Santorini III, 68.15%
3. Katie Owens and Inamorata, 67.3%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold
1. Nick Lawson and Woodlander District Attorney, 71.94%
2. Lavinia Johnson and Dublin, 68.72%
3. Louise Davison and SP Street Dancer, 67.06%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Rose Foley and Cordici K, 70.83%
2. Alex Ingoe Topham and Seagry DonnaDiva, 68.94%
3. Lesley Wheatley and Furst Lazlo, 67.67%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold
1. Sarah Williams and Fighting Boy, 68.44%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Jenny Ainscough and Showstar, 68.67%
2. Rebecca Belshaw and Evita Vienna, 67.72%
3. Zoe Taylor and Roh Classica, 66.94%
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold
1. Becky Moody and Jagerbomb, 71.67%
2. Ryan Todd and Mount St John Di Romantica, 69.69%
3. Jessica Dunn and Woodcroft Ferdinand, 68.99%
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver
1. Charlotte Lutener and AB Barroco, 69.39%
2. Lucie Dunkeld and Barchetta, 68.95%
3. Sarah Fitton and Florenciana 4, 68.6%
Magic Prix St Georges Gold
1. Sarah Higgins and Faydirmie ZH, 69.29%
2. Darcas Lever and Flying Dream II, 66.97%
3. Jane Critchley and Lothario, 66.75%
Superflex Intermediate I Gold
1. Sarah Higgins and Faydirmie ZH, 68.16%
2. Darcas Lever and Flying Dream II, 66.45%
3. Jane Critchley and Lothario, 63.90%
Photo © Kevin Sparrow: Jennifer Harkness and Inouk