Hickstead CDIO/CDI - day three
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It was Grand Prix Special day for the FEI Nations Cup competitors and a one-two for the Portugese further extended their lead ahead over the home team in the standings. Joao Miguel Torrao and Coudelaria Monte Velho’s Equador have won a legion of fans in the six weeks they’ve been based in Britain with Carl Hester and today they won their first Grand Prix level competition and with a personal best score of 75.78% to boot when last to go. Compatriot Durate Nogueira was second some four marks adrift on Beirao on 72.85%. It was a picture in the prize giving with the two bay Lusitano stallions proudly representing their breed and country.
26 year old João was emotional after his win as he’s trained the horse for the last five years and they’ve worked up the grades together. They’ve been impressive in their first year at Grand Prix and, on their first Nations Cup appearance for their country, today they cemented their credentials for a place on the Portuguese team for Rotterdam.
“It’s all been a dream come true. I always said one day I’d score 75% in a Grand Prix and today I’ve done it. Equador is amazing, he always tries is hardest and today I had a really good feeling. His frame was good and he was in front of my leg – a small mistake in the half pass was our only problem. He has such a kind heart and is such a fighter; he’s frightened of nothing. He makes me emotional as he’s my teacher – I’ve learned everything with him, he’s amazing.”
The Brits were competitive but off the pace a little today. Sara Gallop rode a strong test with Bandreo who’s ever improving – today’s piaffe passage tour and final centre line was one of the best we’ve seen from ‘Chippy’ for a 68.12%. Emile Faurie was first to go with Hof Kasselmann’s Café’s Caletta and they had a tricky ride. Their start was delayed by an AWOL when they were ready to start and then a restless crowd caused the mare to spook during her extended walk so the score 66.8%. So our Freestyle riders have a bit to do tomorrow to take the top honours but Hayley and Lara are two very capable riders sat on two of the best dancing horses around.
British based Finnish rider Mikaela Soratie showed that no matter how low things may feel, never give up. Just weeks ago she finished on 60% at Hartpury and didn’t qualify for the Special, today she backed up her Grand Prix fourth place from yesterday with a close win in the CDI3* Grand Prix Special riding her own Dacor on 68.51%. Just 0.02% behind was Emile Faurie with Niina Nilosaari’s Quentano 2 who rode a test full of promise on the impressive nine year old contesting his first Special. Emile has high hopes for him. “He’s world class but just needs more competition exposure,” he said.
A job with Katja Kustila lured Mikaela to British shores after a two year stint in Germany and she now makes West Sussex her home. She’s had Dacor since he was four and this is their first year at Grand Prix. She was delighted with today’s performance, her first international win; “The Special really suits him as there’s plenty of extended trot which is his highlight. I’ve really struggled with him this season, it’s been up and down but it was great today to show what I know he can do. I only hope we can keep this level of work and the scores!”
Mikaela trains with Gareth Hughes and is currently longlisted for the Finnish team for a place at the Rotterdam Euros. She and Dacor travel to the Netherlands this week for team training and will shortly find out their selection fate. The win today will certainly have brought that coveted team place a step closer.
In the Hickstead five year old Young Horse Championship, it was a resounding with for Dan Greenwood and the Danish-bred SJL Backs Zacco (Zack x Don Romantic) on 82.4% from a masterfully presented test. Runner up was Jayne Turney with Lindsey Roberts’s Fred Astaire (s. Fiderbach) on 79.6%.
Owner Sara Lucas purchased him as a three year old from Brightwells and regular rider Antonia Brown has produced him at home where he’s gone from strength to strength. Dan partnered him to third place last year as a four year old in the Shearwater Young Horse Championships and this year as well as qualifying for the Hickstead final, he’s Stoneleigh bound once again as he and Dan won their Shearwater semi-final at Port Royal.
“I’d say that’s his best test to date and really showed his ability to close and open. He has an outstanding temperament and just gets on with it; he has an amazing hind leg. He’s tall at 18hh but has amazing balance and while he’s not flash, he’s a slow burner and with time will really come on. We’ve had a bespoke saddle for him as he may be leggy but he’s very short in the back and it’s made such a difference.
“Toni has done a great job; she does the hard work and qualifying and I just get to ride the nice bits! She’ll be sad to have missed it as she’s laid up at home with back trouble but this will be news to cheer her up!” said Dan.
It’s a busy few weeks ahead for Dan and Zacco as they are set to contest the Summer Regionals at Novice and Elementary in search of more tickets for Stoneleigh.
Jezz Palmer kept up his winning Hickstead Young Horse record with victory in the six year old class riding Steph Taylor’s classy mare WGS Inanda by Rock for Ever with a score of 82.4%. Just 0.4% behind was Hannah Biggs with David Johnson’s Freeman in second.
A happy Jezz said; “You never really know what young horses are going to do here, it’s such a big atmosphere. Today, she really rose to the occasion; I was pleased with her walk and canter but her trot wasn’t quite what I can get at home. Plus, I did my walks the wrong way round so got a two mark deduction – I’d have been cross with myself if I’d have lost because of that!”
‘Indy’ was purchased from Holland via Rebecca Dudley of RD Sport Horses and Jezz says the mare ‘has been everything Rebecca said she was’. Jezz, who runs JLP Dressage with partner Lucy Pye, paid tribute to his trainer Paul Fielder. “He’s great, he’s really my mentor and is always at the end of the phone and has helped me so much. Jezz faces the agonising wait to see if he has a wild card with Indy for the Nationals having just missed out at their recent Regional.
Almost exactly a year to the day Nottinghamshire’s Olivia Whitelaw once again found herself in the winner’s position in the CDIP Freestyle class. Last year it was on her International debut with Brouwershaves’s Viceroy but a year on and the duo have progressed leaps and bounds to the point they were long listed for this year’s Team NAF Pony squad for the Europeans. Sadly they weren’t selected as one of the four but today’s win, on the back of victory yesterday in the Individual test, will go some way as a consolation.
Olivia has had the Dutch bred ‘Leo’ since he was five and has taken him from a novice right up to producing him as an international winner with help from trainers Andrew Fletcher, Daryl Thickitt and Clive Halsall.
Their performance was magical today with great music which grabs the attention and a brave start in walk to the spine tingling theme of the hit TV show Victoria. A mistake strike off into canter instead of trot was quickly left behind them for a polished test to score 71.61%.
Afterwards, Olivia said; “He has a bit heart and tries so hard! Julie Geraghty from Equivisions did the music but I wanted to do my own floorplan. My friend Maddie Frewin helped me. We wanted something regal to match Leo and I thought it’d be different to start in walk and we enter to the theme from Victoria my trot music is Road to Victory and canter is Empire of Angels.
Sadly, this is their final year together and Leo is now looking for a new owner and once he’s sold, she’ll be looking for a horse and plans to buy a youngster to produced up the levels as she’s so successfully done. Olivia has had a tricky summer combining her training with Leo and taking her GCSEs as she has her sights firmly set on becoming a doctor in the Army. This is one focused and determined young lady so there’s no doubting she’ll achieve just that.
It was all change on the podium today from yesterday’s Inter A with three new names rising to the top in the Inter B. It was a combination which have been together for a while now and have been one of the most consistent at small tour both nationally and internationally who shone through. Nathalie Kayal and Homerun, or Jojo as he’s known, are using the Medium Tour classes to their best advantage as they’re climbing the ladder together and today they posted 68% to take the win. “It’s a bit like the blind leading the blind at the moment!” she exclaimed. “At Small Tour we’re established and I can anticipate and quickly correct things in the test, at this level it’s still new. In the Inter A I was pleased with his way of going but there were too many mistakes. Today, my normal International groom Casey Marsh didn’t make it for the test – she was stuck in traffic but gave me a good piece of advice over the phone, ‘don’t ride for a nine, just aim for correct’ and I did just that. It was one of those tests where as a rider you come out and say ‘I don’t care what the mark is’, I knew it was the best we could do today,” she explained.
Nathalie was quick to praise the Dressage at Hickstead team and leader Dane Rawlins. “I used to come here with my mum as a teenager and it was a dream to compete. I’m just grateful to Hickstead for offering the Middle Tour classes for riders like me. I’m sure they don’t make any money for the show but they give us chance to put everything we work on at home into practice; it’s hugely appreciated.”
And her final comment was something which will resonate with any rider; “I never thought I’d have the chance to ride with the British flag on my saddle cloth but Jojo has made it possible; I just owe him everything!”
Jess Dunn crowned a great week, and amazing season overall, with a win in the Inter I Freestyle with Jennifer Whitaker’s Alicante Valley. Things didn’t start well when she raised her arm to start her music and someone else’s tunes bellowed from the tannoy. A momentary silence from the commentary box and then they tried again…but that music was for the previous competitor. More silence…but eventually the CD played and Jess and Chello were underway to their uplifting Greatest Showman music. It was a demanding and technical floorplan with plenty of opportunity to show all the compulsory moves and the judges. It was well rewarded by the judges with 77.4% which overtook Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Davina who’d previously lead on 74.32%. Duthc rider Lynne Maas, who’s impressed all week, snuck into second when last to go with Fantastiqe on 76.43%.
Jess told us; “The start was slightly annoying…I’ve never had that happen before. One of my CDs is scratched so I don’t have a backup and I just hoped it would play. It didn’t bother us; I’m ready as soon as I enter the white boards. I was really pleased today as it was the first time I felt we were exactly in the right place with the music. We’ve been working toward this all year and he’s proved himself now. He’ll have a well-earned break now and then it’s time to press on to Big Tour.”
The CDIU25 got underway this afternoon with the Inter II for the five all female British line up. It was Gloucestershire rider Amy Schiessel, who runs her own yard in Cirencester, who took the spoils with the evergreen Mr Mercury in a tight battle on 66.97%. A fraction behind was Megan Ingham on Coral Ingham’s Wanadoo on 66.55% with Ellie Mccarthy and Belafonte just .35% adrift in third on 66.2%.
Amy and Mr Mercury have been together for 12 years so know each other well. He started as mum Gina’s hunter but the eye catching skewbald (Mars x Demonstrator) then went to Amy and she’s taken him from novice up to Grand Prix including representing their country at the 2016 Young Rider European Championships. “We had a slight saddle malfunction in the warm up and he also felt a bit fresh today but I’d rather have him forward really. There were plenty of good parts with some mistakes but I’m thrilled – I wasn’t expecting it! It’s our first international under 25 win so really special.”