Brilliant Bronze beginnings at Bury Farm
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The first ever British Dressage Bronze Championships proved to be a resounding success for riders just starting out with BD or those who’re new to a level.
Held at the user-friendly venue of Bury Farm in Buckinghamshire, the competition ran over three days with optional warm up classes before a two round format over Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August at Prelim to Advanced Medium levels. For many this was a first chance to stay away from home and the Bury Farm had pulled out the stops to give them a Championship feel.
With two tests and, most cases, six different judges’ comments, the Championships were a great learning experience for the competitors as well as a great competition.
Millie Easton was crowned the inaugural Prelim Bronze Champion with her own Annagh Girl after two great performances. The 14 year old from East Sussex only started competing with British Dressage last October but she’s been flying with ‘Princess’ ever since, never finishing out of the top three and the title was just reward for their hard work. A student at Uckfield College, Millie also events but nine year old Princess clearly has a talent for flat work.
It was Welsh rider Sally Howell with Lucinda Fawcitt’s Son of Orion who held the advantage after day one with a grand 71.49% but Millie and Princess pulled out all the stops on Sunday to post 69.73%, the highest of the day to finish on 139.33% overall to take the title and snazzy rosette for the highest u25 rider, just over 1% ahead of Sally in second overall and the final podium spot went to Caroline Ganjou and Hedron.
The Novice Bronze title was a tough battle but Twyford Mill Equestrian team member Laura Green came out on top with her own Dutch bred Ireldo L. With a CV which boasts working with horses for TV and film including shoots for Game of Thrones, War and Peace and King Arthur, Laura has a knack for producing young horses and her talented five year old looks to be a star in the making having already qualified for the LeMieux Nationals at Prelim level and the Petplan Equine Area Festival Finals at Novice.
Laura and ‘Hoffles’, from his sire Hofrat, shared the lead with Olivia Walker and QEG Lux after the first day with the judging panel of Lotte Olsen, Mary Robins and Carol Hogg unable to separate their performances worth of 71.55%. Sunday dawned wet and windy but young Hoffles wasn’t put off and impressed for 73.23% to top the 12-strong entry. Olivia still managed a 70%+ score but couldn’t quite match Laura, she did however scoop the lovely rosette for the highest rider under 25 while Amy Day with Prince William MBS completed the podium.
The Elementary Bronze title went to Wokingham veteran rider Patricia Smith with her charming chestnut partner Helios, by KEC Diamond Millinium who’s a grandson of the legendary King of Diamonds. The duo came together three years ago when Patricia bought him from a dealing having lightly showed. They’ve since blossomed in dressage, starting in Team Quest with a group from their local Wokingham Riding Club before going solo and enjoying success at Prelim and Novice in the Draught Associated Championships, Petplan Equine Area Festivals and Winter Championships.
They headed Saturday’s preliminary round with 69.94% but Patricia revealed she was apprehensive about the second test as it was a more difficult Elementary test with two medium trot lines. “He hasn’t got flashy Warmblood paces so I have to spot on for the good marks,” she said. She needn’t have worried as ‘Ozzy’ was on great from in the windy, wet conditions and again topped the class with 67.18%.
Patricia was clearly delighted with the win and was quick to praise both her horse and support team; “He’s perfect! Ozzy has been a delight to train and compete. I’m enjoying the shoe being on the other foot now as I supported by husband Terry for years when he trained racehorses but now he’s my head groom! Thanks too to my daughter Jade Dawson who I train with and has just started as a BD judge. I can just ring her and she puts me right when I’m in a muddle! Ozzy’s favourite treat is bananas so there will be extras tonight!”
Just last month, they won their first Petplan Equine Area Festival at Crofton Manor so the lovely Elementary Bronze Champion sash isn’t the first in Ozzy’s wardrobe.
Second place went to Hillary Janion with QEG Lux and third was Jane Collins and Coady Bay Artesienne.
In the Medium Bronze, it was a lovely tale of youth and experience which won the championship. 14 year old Gracie Catling partnered Helen Christie’s 19 year old Silvano KR. Gracie has competed Silvano for just one season but he’s obviously enjoying teaching his young partner as they’ve been in the top four of all their Elementary and Medium starts.
A fantastic 70.75% on the first day of competition in Medium 61 put them top as the only pairing to break the magic 70% barrier while 67.02% in the more tricky Medium 69 was enough to top the class and take a resounding 3.6% victory over Victoria Johnson and German-bred Temujin. Lucie Dunkeld and Barchetta were third.
Area Festival Finals are next on the agenda for Gracie and Silvano having qualified for the Petplan Equine series second rounds at both Elementary and Medium levels.
The Advanced Medium Bronze Champions Hannah Bown and her own Sandro’s Storm are testament to how hard work, patience and dedication can pay off. Hannah juggles training and competing ‘Stanley’ with work as a full time Diagnostic Radiographer and with 12 hour day or night shifts, riding can be difficult. She admitted he’d only been ridden once in the week leading to their trip to Bury Farm from Hampshire but a strong 64.57% on Saturday was followed with a class topping 66.58% on Sunday which gave them the overall win.
An elated Hannah said; “His changes are still very green but today it all came together. He’s a quick thinker but can be a bit laid back at times – he’s just the nicest horse to have around. We all adore him, he’s just like a big Labrador and to me, he’s perfect in every way!”
She’s had him for five years and trained him with the help of UKCC Level 3 coach and list 1 judge Sara-Jane Lanning who Hannah thanked for fitting lessons in around her erratic shifts. “Her dedication is astounding – she’ll come to me for a lesson straight from a 12 hour night shift!” exclaimed Sara-Jane.
Last year Stanley underwent surgery for a bone cyst on his jaw. A small lump which vets thought was harmless started to grow and after x-rays and CT scans, Tom Hughes of Liphook Equine Hospital decided an operation was required. It put Stanley’s future in jeopardy as Tom had never experienced anything similar and it was unsure if surgery would be successful. A successful operation and six months off, the duo haven’t looked back and a subsequent scan has showed the void left by the cyst has filled with bone so the future is very positive.
A fantastic 2018 season isn’t quite finished for the pair as they now have the Petplan Equine Area Festival Finals to look forward to having finished second at Advanced Medium at Wellington.
Denise Fryer was second with her own British bred Keystone Starstruck which she’s produced from Novice herself and third went to Susannah Givons and Baroness.
A massive thank you to all the riders who supported the championships in their first year! And to the team at Bury Farm, the judges, stewards, writers and officials who made it happen. We’ve had some really useful feedback already to help us build on but if you attended and have any comments, please share them on firstname.lastname@example.org.