BD Winter Regionals: Wellington Riding
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Nineteen-year-old Georgie Nicholls had the show of her life, taking home three regional titles at her first regional championship with Katie Haigh’s Woodcroft Kika Quina, while Jezz Palmer was a winner on three different horses.
Georgie, who works for the Oppenheimers at Headmore Stud won the KBIS Preliminary Silver, the Prestige Italia Novice Silver and the Baileys Novice Freestyle Silver, all on the six-year-old Johnson mare (pictured above), owned by para rider Katie Haigh. Georgie has been riding her for a year, bringing her on under the eagle eye of Sarah and Alice Oppenheimer.
“It was her first big competition and she didn’t look at anything,” recalled Georgie, who has been at Headmore Stud for two years. “We weren’t expecting such success as she’s still quite green – we just wanted her to have a nice time. We weren’t sure whether she would cope with three tests in two days but she was fine as she has a good engine.”
Georgie’s boss and mentor Alice Oppenheimer was on good form too, with the talented Headmore Dionysus (Finn) who pipped Georgie’s novice freestyle score by less than .03% to achieve the highest score of the competition of 76.97% in the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold.
The 10-year-old is owned by Amanda Radford and bred by Alice’s mum, Sarah. He is out of Headmore’s illustrious foundation mare, Rubinsteena and by Dimaggio. “He missed most of last year after having an adverse reaction to an EH1 vaccination,” explained Alice who also won the Medium Gold title. “He came back into work in time to qualify for the third lockdown which helped as I could build up his fitness and strength. The advanced medium felt the better test but the really exciting thing is the work can still improve as his strength and balance improve.”
Jezz Palmer also had a great show, going home with three regional titles. He won the hotly contested PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold with Negro stallion Ketcher B, coming home just in front of Angus Corrie-Deane and Jack Johnson and Dannie Morgan and Breit Fantastic.
Ketcher B is owned by Emily Ivins and his first foal was born the same week of the show. “I haven’t competed him much so each time we get to know each other a bit better,” commented Jezz. “He’s still a bit green in the ring but I couldn’t be happier with the test. I had a lesson with Nicky Pascoe the week before and she felt the music we’d had done when he was finding the work harder no longer suited him. Tony Hobden at Equidance changed it to something more upbeat.” Ketcher also gained his championships ticket in the Prestige Italia Novice Gold where he was second.
Tiny Dancer, winner of the Equi-Trek Elementary Gold title, is the six-year-old Uthopia mare Jezz owns with Olympian Anni McDonald-Hall, who bred her grandmother. “She’s a hot horse but I absolutely love her,” said Jezz. “I had a lesson with Carl [Hester] the week before and he told me ‘Don’t hold back, put your foot to the floor!’. The quality of her work in the test felt amazing. We plan to train her to grand prix – she’s showing all the right work now and she’s hot enough to do three days at an international.”
His third title winner was Tramontana Firenze who won the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold with a whopping 76.67%. Owned by Nicole Nelson, ‘Frizzle’ will be for sale and was taken to the show to get experience rather than with the expectation of winning. “It was unexpected as he’s still a bit green and hasn’t done much,” said Jezz. “He’ll make a perfect amateur’s horse.”
Ashley Jenkins prevented Jezz from adding a fourth title when he won the Prestige Italia Novice Gold with the six-year-old Kensington II (pictured above), who is owned by Dan Greenwood, Jamie Reynolds, Cherry Elvin and Cat Austin. “He’s a cool guy who’s only done a handful of shows,” said Ashley. “He was really reliable and focused in the test. He has an amazing canter which pulls in the high marks.”
Another member of Dan Greenwood’s team, Harvey White, had a good show, winning the Equi-Trek Elementary Silver and coming second in the Medium Silver on Icilla. The eight-year-old Fürst Romancier x Ferro mare is owned by Harvey’s mum Fiona Eagle and aunt Helen Teague.
"Icilla was bought for my sister as a three-year-old but when she came off the lorry she was too tall for her,” explained Harvey, who was also second in the Medium Silver. “She was lacking outing experience so was as good as I could expect.” It will be Harvey’s first ride at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships.
The KBIS Preliminary Gold winners Alison Heywood and Kate Hobart’s Thomas K are both based on the Isle of Wight so it was a big jump up in atmosphere for the seven-year-old Friesian gelding. “Kate really wanted a Friesian but we couldn’t find one in the UK so we had a girls’ trip to Holland to buy him,” said Alison. “He’s a lovely horse and was very calm and well-behaved in the test. He has lovely trot rhythm and got good marks for that.”
Louise Robson’s PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver winner Remi II (Kevin) is a dual purpose horse. He competes able bodied with Louise and also with his owner, para dressage rider Amanda Shirtcliffe. He and Amanda will be vying for Tokyo Olympics selection later in the month. Louise and the 10-year-old by Desert Moon won the novice silver class at the 2019 LeMieux National Championships.
“He’s Thelwell in a 16.2hh body,” said Louise. “He used to buck and slip his saddle but we adore him for his antics. It’s been a team effort to get him here. We used to think Kevin was a one-test wonder but he went well in both his classes. He’s getting more confident in the arena.”
Stephanie Taylor was the delighted winner of the Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold with her lovely mare, WGS Inanda (by Rock For Ever). ‘Indy’ is a mum with two filly foals born by embryo transfer and they will become part of Steph’s breeding programme. “Her advanced medium freestyle where she was third was one of the best she’s done,” recalled Steph who trains with Jezz Palmer. “In the medium she was a little bit tired after stabling overnight but even when she’s tired, she’s really nice. I’ve been knocking on the door for a little while so it was wonderful to win.”
The Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver and Medium Silver titles were won by eventer Christina Wiederkehr on her own Lila’s Girl, a 10-year-old mare. It will be Christina’s first visit to the NAF Five Star Winter Championships.
Lila was bought as an event horse and successful evented up to 2* level. “I decided to do dressage with her as she seems to enjoy it and she started to concentrate more so it’s been the right decision,” said Christina. “My intention was to go for the experience so it was fantastic to come away with two wins.” Christina trains with Annabel Scrimgeour and Laura Tomlinson.
The Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver title went to Danielle Balsdon with Lord Lennox (by L’Espoir). She was on a massive road trip from Exeter which took in the Keysoe Area Festival where she won the advanced medium bronze title before going on to Wellington.
The pair were Merrist Wood winter regional champions at medium freestyle silver last year and in 2019 won the Petplan Equine Area Festival U21 Medium Silver title.
“I’ve had him since he was a green five-year-old and produced him slowly up the levels myself,” explained Danielle. “My music was a mix of film themes. He loves doing music and automatically picks up the minute he hears it.”
In the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold, Dior VIII rewarded Elder Klatzko (pictured above) with a win and an almost 3% margin over his competitors. Elder has a great bond with this lovely horse who she rescued as a two-year-old and has more than repaid her faith in him.
“He’s feeling fantastic,” enthused Elder. “We’ve been back training with Carl and Dior is excited to be out competing. He’s got the most amazing temperament and I feel proud to be his trainer! It was the most horrendous weather and he didn’t look at a thing. I have high hopes he’ll be a really smart grand prix horse and I’ll never sell him.”
Sarah Colborn and Fürst Love I’s win in the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver was the pair’s first regional title. The Fürst Fugger mare is now 10 and Sarah trains her with the help of Charlotte Dujardin.
“Winning was a bit of a shock!” said Sarah. “She was in season so mega sensitive but by Tuesday she was a bit more rideable and managed to hold it together. It’s all about getting her to relax and settle then I can ask a bit more.”
The combination has moved up to PSG bronze and will be competing at the Petplan Equine Area Festivals at that level. “The higher levels are all new to both of us.”
Caitlin Burgess’s Magic Prix St Georges Gold winner, Chocotof, was quite hot in the warm-up but settled in the test to achieve a score of 71.97%. It was the 14-year-old Lord Leatherdale gelding’s first winter championship qualification and first regional title. The pair’s last outing was the Vale View Under 21 championship in October 2020 where they won two young rider tests.
“He’s definitely enjoying being back out at a big show,” commented Caitlin who trains with Richard Preston. “His trot work was really good compared to pre-lockdown. I upped the level of the work and he’s got more power and is stronger.”
Second in the PSG but title winner in the Superflex Intermediate I Gold was Nathalie Kayal and DHI Cleverboy. In 2020 the 14-year-old Sandreo gelding was reserve champion at the winter championships at inter I and inter I freestyle so this year Nathalie will be trying hard to take the top spot.
“He’s come second and third at the championships so many times I’m determined to give it my best shot,” said Nathalie. “He was amazing in the tests despite the horrendous weather – the white boards were creaking like a rocking chair in a horror film! The warm-up was interesting as all the horses were uber-sensitive. So I was really pleased with his performance.”
British Dressage thanks all the class sponsors as well as the Wellington team for putting on a fantastic event. Congratulations to all the winners listed below and to all those who competed over the four days.
KBIS Preliminary Gold
1. Alison Heywood and Thomas K, 72.7%
2. Issy George and D’Angelo, 72.24%
3. Koren Marner and Black Forest 11, 70.28%
KBIS Preliminary Silver
1. Georgie Nicholls and Woodcroft Kika Quina, 74.65%
2. Phoebe Murray and Ilviro, 74.31%
3. Billy Marshall and Honeybrook Extra Special, 68.96%
Prestige Italia Novice Gold
1. Ashley Jenkins and Kensington II, 75.59%
2. Jezz Palmer and Ketcher B, 75.12%
3. Jezz Palmer and Tiny Dancer, 74.44%
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold
1. Jezz Palmer and Tramontana Firenze, 76.66%
2. Charlotte Dicker and Catherston Timeless, 75.09%
3. Jezz Palmer and Romanno Weltino, 74.25%
Prestige Italia Novice Silver
1. Georgie Nicholls and Woodcroft Kika Quina, 72.53%
2. Alessandra Doyle and Bolero Gauranito, 70.98%
3. Elizabeth Jenkins and Salsa D’Amour, 70.37%
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver
1. Georgie Nicholls and Woodcroft Kika Quina, 76.38%
2. Elizabeth Jenkins and Salsa D’Amour, 73.7%
3. Nicola Holehouse and Millfield Catapult, 72.87%
Equi-Trek Elementary Gold
1. Jezz Palmer and Tiny Dancer, 71.09%
2. Dannie Morgan and Breit Fantastic, 70.88%
3. Angus Corrie-Deane and Jack Johnson, 69.74%
PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold
1. Jezz Palmer and Ketcher B, 74.74%
2. Angus Corrie-Deane and Jack Johnson, 73.59%
3. Dannie Morgan and Breit Fantastic, 73.39%
Equi-Trek Elementary Silver
1. Harvey White and Icilla, 73.33%
2. Jenna Roddy and Tim II, 71.92%
3. Stephanie Sweet and Kelsons Fantasy, 71.45%
PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver
1. Louise Robson and Remi II, 72.94%
2. Katie Edwards and Hwylog Imperial, 70.96%
3. Ruth Almond and Hightrick S, 70.12%
1. Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus, 75.58%
2. Zoe Sopp and Vilan, 71.12%
3. Judy Harvey and SP Bento, 71.03%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold
1. Stephanie Taylor and WGS Inanda, 71.72%
2. Holly Colgate-Cooke and Dasset Quick Fix, 69.16%
3. Tania Grantham and Seni Ilustrisimo III, 69.16%
1. Christina Wiederkehr and Lila’s Girl, 71.39%
2. Harvey White and Icilla, 70.76%
3. Toni Gormley and Serendipitous, 69.27%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Danielle Balsdon and Lord Lennox, 72.5%
2. Beatrice Butterworth and Carlsson, 70.77%
3. Toni Gormley and Serendipitous, 68.88%
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold
1. Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus, 76.97%
2. Teghan Cantrell-Bennett and Woodlander Donna Summer, 72.89%
3. Lucinda Elliot and Hawtins Soave, 72.23%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold
1. Elder Klatzko and Dior VIII, 73.11%
2. Zoe Sopp and Vilan, 70.66%
3. Stephanie Taylor and WGS Inanda, 70.33%
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver
1. Christina Wiederkehr and Lila’s Girl, 69.64%
2. Fay Lai and Bengal 11, 67.85%
3. Joshua Hill and Mallards Sirena, 67.67%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Sarah Colborn and Fürst Love I, 73.22%
2. Julia Walker and Rodhea, 71.11%
3. Max Campbell and Hihalino, 69.16%
Magic Prix St Georges Gold
1. Caitlin Burgess and Chocotof, 71.97%
2. Nathalie Kayal and DHI Cleverboy, 71.57%
3. Lucinda Elliot and Hawtins Soave, 70.3%
Superflex Intermediate I Gold
1. Nathalie Kayal and DHI Cleverboy, 72.14%
2. Kate Cowell and Rayban, 70.21%
3. Elizabeth Allen and Heraldik, 69.82%
Photos © Lottie-Elizabeth Photography