BD Winter Regionals: Wellington Riding
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Wellington Riding was the penultimate Winter Regionals (25-29 February) but fared better with the weather than some of the other regionals. Even so, competitors were faced with sleet, snow, rain, hail, cloud and sun – usually all in the same day.
This didn’t dampen spirits and it was a very high scoring competition with every winning test but one over 70%. Sixty judges scrutinized 394 tests, supported by 60 writers and 24 officials/volunteers and staff. Congratulations to all the competitors and well done to Wellington for keeping the show on the road – with a smile!
The accolade for the highest score of the show went to keen amateur Maeve Morris and Headmore Footloose (pictured above), who won the Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Silver on 76.60%. ‘Eric’ was bred by Maeve’s stepmother, Nicky Morris, and is by Florencio out of Headmore Donato, the first dressage horse bred at the Headmore Stud. On the back of the success Maeve has had with Eric, Nicky has kindly given him to her. Maeve was originally a show jumper but since riding Eric has fallen in love with dressage. Eric also won a qualifying ticket in the Equi-Trek Elementary Silver class.
Maeve works in property management in London so often only manages to get to ride on weekends, with Alice Oppenheimer and Nicky keeping him going during the week. “He’s just amazing,” enthused Maeve. “Everybody loves him. He can be a bit fresh at home but once he’s between the white boards he settles.”
He’s just amazing. Everybody loves him. He can be a bit fresh at home but once he’s between the white boards he settles.
Maeve’s music programme was one of a number of successful soundtracks created by Sara Green and the pair entered the arena to the song ‘Footloose’. The performance was appreciated by all the judges, but particularly by Olympian Jennie Loriston-Clarke who scored Maeve 80%.
Close behind Maeve in the highest score stakes was her trainer Alice Oppenheimer on another Headmore-bred horse, the nine-year-old Headmore Dionysus. He won the Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold on 76.17% and also the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold, as well as securing two other qualifying tickets.
‘Dillon’ (Dimaggio x Rubinstein) is full brother to Alice’s Grand Prix horses, Headmore Davina and Headmore Dirubinio. Dillon is owned by Amanda Radford and Alice took over the competition ride two years ago. “He’s the perfect pocket rocket and fun to ride,” said Alice. “He was a bit short of match practice and it normally takes him three tests to get to the top of his game. He’s a cool little horse and the only one of mine to like eight metre circles!”
Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver honours went to Lily Laughton with the Desperados gelding, Armada Danubio, riding to a programme produced by Rebecca Bell. “He’s got the most amazing character,” said Lily. “He’s sweet, sharp and sensitive. He was hot in the test but he stayed with me.”
Henry Boswell had a great ride in the Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Gold with Judy Craymer’s Woodcroft Fireball (by Furstenball) - pictured above - and an excellent score of over 75%. “He’s with me for the long haul,” commented Henry. “He’s really talented for the piaffe and flying changes which he’ll need to be successful at the higher levels. At the moment he can be a bit shy in the ring. He doesn’t do anything naughty but can hold his breath.”
“It’s important to do a few shows so he can see a bit and then we’ll concentrate on his training and come out again at PSG (Prix St Georges).”
He’s with me for the long haul.
Matt Frost and his own and Nicola Keenan’s Helga (pictured below) also scored over 75% to take the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold title. The eight-year-old mare (Chagall x Summer Hit) was bought from the Brightwells Auction as a three-year-old. “She’s only done a handful of Advanced Medium classes,” explained Matt. “She’s very enthusiastic about her work and initially struggled with her changes because they were a bit too exuberant. I’m working on getting her to relax more. She’s an amazing horse to ride – she puts a smile on my face every day.”
The Nupafeed Advanced Medium Silver winner, Keystone Diego, owned by Georgia Davis is at livery at Headmore and her music track was also produced by Sara Green. It really suited the big horse and he hit the beat with enthusiasm and expression. Now nine, the British-bred gelding (by Rhondeo) was bought by Georgia as a foal and he grew up with Headmore Footloose as his field buddy. “We didn’t know he’d grow so big,” laughed Georgia. “He was quite fresh today and nearly bronced me off in the car park. In the test he felt lovely. He knows his job and it felt pretty flawless.”
High Hoes Estelle and Dannie Morgan added the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold title to the Prestige Italia Novice Gold title they won at Merrist Wood. The Escolar mare is owned by her breeder Nicky Callam and Dannie, and so far has never scored less than 70%. Dannie debuted his new music, created by Sara-Jane Lanning, featuring impressive modern music tracks to match this powerful mare.
Dannie brought the number of winter regional titles he has won this year to five with victories in both the Magic Prix St Georges Gold and Superflex Intermediate I Gold on David Knox and Lisa Morgan’s Knoxx’s Figaro. ‘Fig’ arrived at Wellington without the best pre-competition preparation as he bruised his foot a few weeks before and had only been back in work for a short time. This talented horse is destined to go places and produced good scores despite being unsettled by a very busy warm-up arena and horrific weather. “He’s a very expressive horse but quite a sensitive soul,” explained Dannie.
At the other end of the levels, the KBIS Preliminary Silver title went to eventer Corinne Roberts and Fourstar Struck (by Wish Upon a Star). Corinne has backed and produced the homebred gelding and she’s hoping to move up from BE100 this year. She will have to fit in a visit to the NAF Five Star Winter Championships first. “He’s such a lovely horse and always wants to please,” said Corinne. “He was a bit behind my leg in the test but he’s always correct and tries his best.”
In the Prestige Italia Novice classes, both Jezz Palmer and Jessica Davies scored over 73%. Jezz and King IV were the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold winners at Merrist Wood. This is the first year Richard Burge’s five-year-old Governor stallion has been to the Winter Championships – in fact he had only seven results on his card before Wellington, with no score less than 70.39%. Jezz is full of praise for this lovely stallion’s temperament. “The win was a bit unexpected but I recently had a lesson with Charlotte Dujardin and she said she thought we could do it. Nothing seems to faze him – he’s Mr Chill the whole time.”
Jessica Davies is riding her Prestige Italia Novice Silver winner, Fürst Pheonix for para dressage rider, Belinda Gatland, who lives in Dubai and bought him there. “’Fling’ has only done a few BD tests to qualify for the regionals. We didn’t have the best preparation for the show as he had a bad reaction to the flu vaccine,” explained Jessica. “He really settled in the test and did a nice clean round. He’s a big lovable giant with a big personality who is a yard favourite.”
Katie Bailey won the Equi-Trek Elementary Gold title on Elissa Bucher’s six-year-old Dimaggio gelding, DJoe Dimaggio, known as ‘Squirrel’. The pair were fifth at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships in the Dodson & Horrell Novice Gold in 2019. “He’s been with me a year and I’ve been working on building his strength at home,” said Katie. “In the test, his highlights were his simple changes on the centre line and his canter work got good marks. He held his breath a bit but was quite relaxed. He scored 80% at Elementary last week so the judges seem to like him.”
The Equi-Trek Elementary Silver was split into two sections and won by Stephanie Sweet and Kelton’s Fantasy and Natasha Kalderen and Spellbound II. Kelton’s Fantasy is owned by her breeder Sarah Banwell and is by Wolkenderry. Stephanie has backed and produced her for Sarah. “I came here with no expectations and just hoped to get in the top 10,” said Stephanie, who travelled from Somerset. The combination will be at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships for the first time. “I was so pleased with her test that when I finished I thought ‘I don’t care what the judges say’.”
Natasha bought Spellbound as a project three years ago but has kept him. “He’s a bit quirky – you have to ask, you can’t tell him. He’s taught me a lot and we’ve grown together.”
Hawtins Barolo (Belissimo x French Kiss) is with Calum Whitworth to sell, which should be a lot easier after he carried off the TheraPlate Ltd Medium Gold title with over 73%. “He’d only done young horse classes before getting his Medium qualifying scores,” explained Calum. “He did a nice confident test. He’s definitely a top class horse and is already doing Grand Prix work at home.”
Claire Speer and Loxley’s Optimism won the large TheraPlate Ltd Medium Silver class and also gained a ticket in the Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver. Loxley is Claire’s first homebred and is out of her advanced mare, Sheepcote World Of Optimism, and by Lord Loxley. “We hadn’t competed since last November and couldn’t get out before Wellington because of the storms,” said Claire, who trains with Dannie Morgan. “He managed the counter canter without showing off his changes! I was pleased at how he stayed a lot more in front of the leg throughout the test.”
Eventer Roberto Scalisi has fallen in love with dressage since gaining the ride on Debbie Stibbe’s 12-year-old mare, Coco Chanel II. At his first regionals, he took the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver title. “I’m quite overwhelmed after watching all the dressage riders in the warm-up,” said Roberto. “She can be quite spooky and the weather was against us but she gave it her best go. She’s a lovely horse to ride.”
British Dressage thanks the team at Wellington Riding, the class sponsors and all involved for a successful Winter Regional Championships. Congratulations to the winners listed below, to all qualified combinations and to everyone who took part.
KBIS Prelim Silver
Corinne Roberts and Fourstar Struck, 71.49%
Prestige Italia Novice Gold
Jezz Palmer and King IV, 74.07%
Prestige Italia Novice Silver
Jessica Davies and Fürst Pheonix, 73.45%
Baileys Novice Freestyle Gold
Dannie Morgan and High Hoes Estelle, 76.11%
Baileys Novice Freestyle Silver
Andrea Kirby and Headmore Dramatica, 73.42%
Equi-Trek Elementary Gold
Katie Bailey and DJoe Dimaggio, 73.68%
Equi-Trek Elementary Silver
Section a) Stephanie Sweet and Kelson’s Fantasy, 71.77%
Section b) Natasha Kalderen and Spellbound II, 69.01%
Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Gold
Henry Boswell and Woodcroft Fireball, 75.51%
Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Silver
Maeve Morris and Headmore Footloose, 76.60%
TheraPlate Ltd Medium Gold
Calum Whitworth and Hawtins Barolo, 73.24%
TheraPlate Ltd Medium Silver
Claire Speer and Loxleys Optimism, 70.40%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold
Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus, 76.17%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver
Lily Laughton and Armada Danubio, 74.00%
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold
Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus, 72.85%
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver
Roberto Scalisi and Coco Chanel II, 68.90%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold
Matt Frost and Helga, 75.50%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver
Georgia Davis and Keystone Diego, 73.44%
Magic Prix St Georges Gold
Dannie Morgan and Knoxx’s Figaro, 72.14%
Superflex Intermediate I Gold
Dannie Morgan and Knoxx’s Figaro, 71.62%
Photo © Kevin Sparrow