KBIS Semi-Finals: young horses step closer to Somerford
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Young horses were in the spotlight as Hartpury’s Festival of Dressage (5 – 10 July 2022) hosted the semi-finals of the popular KBIS Young Dressage Horse series. These classes, which always attract big entries and spectator interest as a chance to spot upcoming star talent, also prove a popular pathway for riders to showcase stars of the future, and this year was no exception.
KBIS Four-year-olds semi-final
Dannie Morgan and his outstanding 16.3hh bay gelding Fever Tree (Foundation X Dayano) - pictured above, impressed judges Cara Whitham and Matt Hicks who awarded him a well-deserved score of 89.4 to head a hot class of 23 talented participants.
Proudly bred by Dannie’s good friends David Stone and Colin Hicks of Bow Lake Equestrian near Southampton where he has been based as rider/trainer since 2014, the former event rider bought “Gordon” at the beginning of this year having backed him with ease last November. “He’s a very special horse who stole my heart at an early age and can honestly say he feels like the best horse I’ve sat on.
“Having ridden his mother Dominica, who competed locally and went on to be a broodmare, I admired and fell in love with Gordon right from the beginning and after enjoying backing him, I just knew I had to buy him.”
Dannie, who trains with Matt Frost and Sadie Smith, describes Gordon as an “absolute superstar” with a great future. “He has such a special temperament and is so trusting – it feels like he’s read the best training manuals and we’re enjoying our journey together.”
Dannie’s Hartpury win was made all the more special as it was watched by Fever Tree’s breeders who came to watch him compete for the first time, while his childhood friend Sadie Smith also helped in the warm-up. “I’ve known David [Stone] since I first moved to Bow Lake Equestrian as a teenager with a pony at livery so being given the chance to buy this special horse from such good friends has been a dream.
“Fever Tree is not only a beautiful model to look at, but has the paces, qualities, scope and trainability of a future Grand Prix horse. He’s a natural and finds everything easy but he’s still very young so we’re enjoying lots of hacking up hills to help build his strength and keep him happy in body and mind.
“I’m excited and feel very lucky to have him… I have to pinch myself every day that he’s really mine!”
KBIS Five-year-olds semi-final
In-form rider Becky Moody and Magic Dream (pictured above) were clear winners in the hotly contested five-year-old class seeing off 25 fellow participants with the highest score across the young horse classes. Judges Stephen Clarke and Norway’s Kjell Myhre gave Magic Dream top marks for her trot and way of going, awarding this combination an outstanding winning score of 92.6.
Owned by Becky and Jo Cooper, this striking 16.2hh chestnut mare (Governor/Swarovski), was bought by Becky as a newly backed three-year-old from RD Horses in the middle of the Covid pandemic and is the first ridden horse she has purchased from a video, a decision which has more than paid off.
In 2021, “Shroom” won the Preliminary Silver National Championship title ridden by Anna Burns and Becky had her first competitive ride on the Dutch-bred mare at Myerscough earlier this year securing a solid win in the five-year-old qualifier, describing her ride as "a really special horse".
One of the yard's firm favourites, Magic Dream, who is "sweet in the stable and gives her all when you ride her" has also been described as "everything you could ever want in a horse".
“’Shroom’ is a pretty cool horse and getting better and stronger all the time,” says Becky.
KBIS Six-year-olds semi-final
Riding for Team Bechtolsheimer, Sarah Rogers elegantly piloted their outstanding home-bred gelding Full Moon II (Fürstenball x Gribaldi ) to triumph in the KBIS six-year-olds class, impressing judges Judy Harvey and France’s Alban Tissot with the 17.2hh dark bay’s powerful paces and exceptional trainability.
This combination (pictured above) was also runner up in the six-year-old World Breeding Selection Trial. Winner of last year’s national Novice Gold title and Nexgen five-year-old championship, Sarah has ridden “Moony” since he was first backed by Jason Webb as a three-year-old.
“He’s always had a special character and even as a foal in the field, stood out and caught my eye every time we rode past. He’s a big gentle giant with the kindest heart and a real gentleman. He has that special quality and presence that draws you in – I’m very lucky to work with him and always look forward to riding him.
“Hartpury is a fantastic venue and riding in the big indoor arena is great for young horses to experience a bigger atmosphere but without the scary pressure, so helping to build confidence. Full Moon II went in and concentrated on his test like a real pro and we’re all really proud of him.”
Sarah, who previously worked for Klaus Balkenhol for five years in Germany before moving to Paris for three years riding for dressage judge Marietta Almasy, returned to work for the Bechtolsheimer family six years ago as a full-time rider, having previously worked part time and trains every day with Belgian Grand Prix rider Carl Cuypers, who is based at the yard.
“Carl has played a crucial part in our development and over the next few months we’ll continue to develop Moony’s gymnastic and strengthening work to consolidate all the basics of training and continuing to build step by step.
“He has fantastic balance in all three gaits with an outstanding walk [scoring 9.5 in these semi finals], swings nicely over the back in trot and really sits in the canter– you can feel it’s all there and he is going to be a really great Grand Prix horse one day – an international superstar of the future!”
KBIS seven-year-olds semi-final
Sadie Smith and her own “superstar” mare Swanmore Dantina (pictured above), which she co owns with Steve Reddings, winner of last year’s national six-year-old championship at Somerford Park, once again proved how special she is winning both the seven-year-old KBIS semi-final, as well as the Seven-year-old World Breeding Championships selection trial with two plus 81% scores.
Bred by Ben St John James, who Sadie used to work for before going to Carl Hester’s yard, this elegant 16.2hh dark bay mare (Dante Weltino x Charatin), is described as a “very exciting prospect”. Judges Judy Harvey and USA’s Michael Osinski awarded the combination 81.7 with Judy remarking on “ a beautiful test to watch”.
“It was a very hot day at Hartpury, and at first I thought Dia felt a bit flat, but she always presents well, rises to the occasion and produced some lovely work – I hope we showed we’re a good partnership.”
Sadie explains that Dia was initially bred for one of her friends to ride, but when she got to the age of three, it was decided that she was a bit too big and fate took its hand. “As I was looking for one at the time, I went to look at her, immediately liked her and bought her; she was so pretty and had three nice paces.
“Initially, Dia didn’t show the most extravagant movement, but her paces have developed with time and training so although I originally bought her with the idea to produce and sell, the older she gets, the more special she is, so she’s staying with me!
“Dia’s such a kind person and has so much character with the most amazing trainable attitude; you could ride her down a motorway, and I just love that about her!”
Now based at Sarah Tyler Evans’ yard near Fareham in Hampshire, where Sadie teaches and has training liveries, she continues to train with both Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester: “They both love Dia and Carl always says ‘you must look after this one’!”
Looking ahead, Sadie plans to keep training with Prix St Georges winter qualifiers in mind. “Every show she goes to, she’s so reliable and consistent; she never spooks or does anything wrong and learns so quickly – it’s so nice to have a horse you go into a test and feel like you can concentrate on riding and I’m excited to see what the future brings.”
Results: top three
KBIS 4YO Semi-Final
1. Dannie Morgan and Fever Tree, 89.400
2. Holly Bates and MSJ Secret Lady 87.000
3. Charlotte Dujardin and Vida Loca, 86.600
KBIS 5YO Semi-Final
1, Becky Moody and Magic Dream, 92.600
2. Holly Bates and Hillgrounds Feinline, 88.000
3. Michael Eilberg and EDH Franklin Hit, 87.600
KBIS 6YO Semi-Final
1. Sarah Rogers and Full Moon ll, 88.600
2. Beth Bainbridge and Blue Hors Zackorado, 86.600
3. Michael Eilberg and EDH Nanouk, 83.800
KBIS 7YO Semi-Final
1. Sadie Smith and Swanmore Dantina, 81.706
2. Michael Eilberg and MSJ Encore, 79.713
3. Jezz Palmer and Ketcher B, 75.919
Photo © Kevin Sparrow