Equissage Pulse Para Winter Championships
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Sara Cooper and Seni-Lliso I, a horse that cost the princely sum of £1 including tack, were duly crowned Grade II Silver Champions at the re-scheduled Equissage Pulse Para Winter Championships at Myerscough International Arena (04 - 06 March 2022). Storm force winds had forced the cancellation on the original date and although some entries could not make the new weekend it was still top quality competition.
Seni-Lliso, a 20-year-old PRE gelding (pictured above), is owned by Becky Monk of Lakefield Equestrian Centre where Sara herself works with people with special educational needs. “I was really happy with the test but you need a big walk for Grade II and he is Spanish so he’s not your typical para horse in that respect but he does have an amazing attitude,” she said. “He’s accurate and he gave me everything he could in there, he is so, so kind.”
“Did we just do that,” declared twelve-year-old Elan Williams after riding her trainer Sara Jones-Williams’s WSH Something Borrowed (pictured above) to win the Bronze Grade I. This was on the way home from Myerscough having achieved her dream of competing at the championships alongside her heroes and, as the icing on the cake, going home as champion.
Elan, who has quadriplegic cerebal palsy, first started riding with Sara three years ago before being graded last autumn as soon as she was old enough. “Three times a week we drive the one and a half hours to Benllech on Anglesey where the pony is stabled,” said her mother Cerys. “She was ready out of the gate as soon as she was graded, we had two trips out to qualify for here and next stop will be qualifying for the summer version.”
Vicky Earnshaw, winner of both Grade III Silver and Bronze with former eventer Aldo MW (pictured above), was only graded as a para rider last summer. “The biggest thing has been putting my hand up and admitting I was disabled,” reflected Vicky who suffers from chronic rheumatoid arthritis.
“My trainers Paul Hayler, Wade Barley and Sarah Carlisle have been pushing me to get graded but I thought I would be Grade V. It was a bit of a shock to be Grade III although my personal trainer Steve told me he wasn’t surprised. On the plus side it has been a relief to be able to limp along at a show rather than pretend I’m okay!”
Aldo MW by Matterhorn evented to novice level but it was obvious his heart wasn’t in it so he arrived at Vicky’s. “Sarah Gowing who evented him is a very good friend of mine so she suggested I gave him a go,” said Vicky.
Joanne Dagley-Cleworth and Uptimistic (pictured above) won both Grade V Gold and Silver titles. The ten-year-old gelding is by Carl Hester’s Olympic ride Uthopia but at 17.2hh has definitely got his height from his dam’s side. Joanne bought the horse two years ago.
“It took us a while to get our act together and we’ve finished second to Julie Frizzell the last two or three times but it all went right today,” said Joanne. “He actually came from just down the road from here, he’s the perfect gentleman - like a giant Labrador- which as I’m driver, groom and rider is essential!”
Joanne suffered partial paralysis after spinal surgery went wrong. “Ironically I’ve achieved a lot more as a para rider, it’s made me work so much harder,” said Joanne who trains with Mark Townsend and Jess Thompson and plans to concentrate on the gold section this year. “It’s tough against the likes of Sophie Wells but we’re working on more power and I was pleased with that, we’re improving!”
Elizabeth Green supplied Sir Lee Pearson with another national title, the Staffordshire based rider winning the Grade II Gold with her registered Shire gelding Roughcote Jupiter. The eight-year-old started his working career as a driving pair with his dam Roughcote Poppy but when she died of colic was left with nothing to do.
“They worked as one and he was lost without her, “explained Elizabeth. “To cut a long story short I started riding him and he felt a bit special so I did some dressage with him. I’ve known Lee for a good while and he said he’d love to do some para dressage with him and he’s going to Keysoe for the International next.”
For Sir Lee it was mission accomplished. “I was threatening to ride him last year before Tokyo but I was very good and waited until I got back,” he said. “He’s a great walk and a great canter and a massive buck, very athletic for such a big horse! I love that para dressage can go full circle, heavy native to flashy warmblood back to heavy horse.”
2022 Equissage Pulse Para Winter Champions
Grade I - Elan Williams and WSH Something Borrowed, 66.15%
Grade II - Lily Hughes and Nikita, 64.41%
Grade III - Vicky Earnshaw and Aldo MW, 70.93%
Grade IV - Lisa Griffin and First Class IX, 67.08%
Grade V - Donna Rooney and Scarlets True Skyfall, 66.90%
Grade I - Veronica Bower and Game Over, 69.67%
Grade II - Sarah Cooper and Seni-Lliso I, 66.74%
Grade III - Vicky Earnshaw and Aldo MW, 70.93%
Grade IV - Georgina Maton and Despereaux, 66.38%
Grade V - Joanne Dagley-Cleworth and Uptimistic,h 68.02%
Grade I - Mari Durward-Akhurst and Quaikin Guaranteed Good, 70.48%
Grade II - Lee Pearson and Roughcote Jupiter, 71.96%
Grade III - Emma Kent and Royalty II, 71.13%
Grade IV - Laura Gulliver & Farok V. Singing, 70.16%
Grade V - Joanne Dagley-Cleworth and Uptimistic, 66.47%
Photo © Kevin Sparrow