Keysoe Premier League: Eilberg pockets five wins
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The second Premier League show of 2022, at Keysoe International (29 April – 01 May), saw some exciting young horses power through the 80% barrier while Michael Eilberg dominated the show with five wins.
Mike took home red rosettes with three different horses – his own and Nicky Hannam’s Dante VX (by Dante Weltino) in the Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges (PSG) and Saturday’s Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I, Ferdi Eilberg’s Figlio (by Fidertanz) in Friday’s Saracen Horse Feeds Inter I and Nicky Hannam’s MSJ Encore (by Escolar) in an Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium and the BD 7YO class.
Dante (pictured above) who was bought as a foal from Mount St John has been racking up good scores at Small Tour level recently. “He’s one of the best horses I’ve ever sat on and we are planning our steps carefully so he will make the grade.”
Dante got his best score for the Inter I class but Mike admitted he hadn’t got his warm-up right. “He normally needs a lot of warming up as he’s a bit of a hot-head but I got on late. And then when the steward said I was the next in, I went straight in although there had actually been a couple of withdrawals. So he only had 20-25 minutes warm up,” explained Mike. “I’ve never done that before so I was chuffed with how relaxed he was.”
Figlio was bought as a six-year-old and he is now on a similar path to Dante. “He’s quite a spooky horse so I want to get him out and experiencing stuff. He was competing outdoors and didn’t do the arena walk but he went in and didn’t spook which is a massive step forward for him.
“I’ve a lot of hopes for him at Grand Prix. He’s a lovely model with so much looseness in the way he moves. When the collection is established he’ll have a bright future.
“Encore is the most super horse to have – I can’t praise him enough,” said Mike. “He’s an absolute dude – cool to look at and cool to ride. He’s only done a couple of Medium tests before but he takes everything in his stride. I love riding him. He’s got one of the best temperaments I’ve ever felt. I’m known for not smiling when I ride but on him I find myself smiling – I can’t help it!
“He’s a very big horse so I have to be careful not to be greedy and push him.”
It was tight at the top in the Grand Prix but it was Fiona Bigwood who won with Daytona Platinum (pictured above), a horse she describes as her favourite. She has owned the Welte Dantino gelding since he was five years old and he has been competed by two other family members, husband Anders and daughter Mette.
“We took the pressure off for a while and Mette did some Junior tests with him but she’s now concentrating on her GCSEs,” explained Fiona who represented Great Britain at the Rio Olympics. “He used to be quite spooky but is getting over it. I was hoping the test would be outdoors as he slightly holds his breath indoors, but it didn’t seem to affect him this time.”
Lara Edwards and Jazzed Up’s first GP Freestyle was a resounding success with the pair achieving just under 70%. “I only decided to do the freestyle the weekend before,” admitted Lara who trains with Rhett Bird. “I sent a video to Nathan Price on Monday who composed the music very quickly and I got it back three days later. The show was the first time I had ridden to it! The judges loved the music and I got 7.5s and 8s for it.”
The 13-year-old Jazz gelding (pictured above) is jointly owned by Lara and his breeder Tracey Milner and Lara has brought him up through the levels. “He’s taken to the Grand Prix work. For the first time I felt I had loads of time in the test. He’s so light and easy and I never have to get cross with him.”
Stübben Intermediate II winner, Annabella Pidgley has the daunting task of following in Charlotte Dujardin’s stirrups on one of Britain’s most popular horses, Gio, aka Pumpkin. The pair (pictured above) has been concentrating on training and Keysoe was only their third competition together. She later commented on social media: “Pumpkin and I are still growing our partnership and he has challenged me to step up to the higher level work, which has really helped me as a rider and working with the other horses. He tried his heart out as always and we won with 78.5% against so many riders I follow and respect.
“It’s still very early days for us and it is a little nerve wracking taking on such a powerhouse of a horse but he has such a lovely character and almost encourages me to be brave with him.”
Annabella also took the first two places in the Junior Individual test, coming first with her team horse Sultan des Paluds and a close second with Espe. Both of these horses are super performers with less than 1% separating them.
Emma Blundell had a lot to smile about at Keysoe. As well as taking a win and a third place at Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I on her own Mount St John VIP, horses from the Mount St John Stud - Dante, Diamonds Are Forever, Secretly, Valencia and Jazz Dance all won or had top three places.
Their 74.55% Inter I score was a personal best for the partnership. “The test felt great,” commented Emma who has had to fit in competing around the busiest time of year for her stud, travelling on business and moving house. “She is amazing to ride. I just have to concentrate on keeping her calm, breathing and staying focused. It all came together really well.”
Sarah Higgins has taken over the ride on Saturday’s Fairfax Saddles PSG winner, Sirius Black III, while his owner Gemma Owen is otherwise occupied launching her beachwear range. “She’s given him to me to keep going for the next few months,” explained Sarah. “The first day I rode so badly I had to give myself a talking to! I changed everything for the next test and he felt great. It’s only the fourth time I’ve ridden him this year so there are areas we need to brush up on.
“Seventy-two per cent was an amazing score to get in such a huge class and I was also thrilled to place third with Sarah Rao’s Samuel.”
PSG was a happy hunting ground for Harriette Williams and Creto (Conteur x Falkenstern) who had PSG and PSG freestyle wins. It was Creto’s third show back after 18 months out of work with injury. Harriette debuted a new Tom Hunt music programme in the freestyle.
“We made some mistakes but got some lovely comments. It’s nice to be back out at the big shows and the judges seem to like her.”
Harriette runs her own training and livery yard and is on the Young Professionals Programme. “It’s been so beneficial in every part of running a business and getting yourself out there.”
The evergreen 20-year-old Lime Walk has given his owner Emma Bond a lot of pleasure over the eight years she’s owned him. He’s taken her to Area Festival Championship wins and international Junior and Young Rider competitions. Now Emma has left Young Riders, the pair are out enjoying themselves and bagged a win in the Inter I Freestyle at Keysoe.
“This is his first big show of the year and the Inter I is his favourite test,” said Emma who is in the final year of her law degree. “He still thinks he’s about five and loves to show off. He lights up when people clap.
“We just go out to have fun and I don’t over-train and bore him. He loves to play with the higher-level stuff and his party trick is one-tempi changes. I hope to have a go at Grand Prix later in the year.”
Caitlin Burgess and Chocotof aced both the Young Rider classes with 72%+ scores. The pair has been very consistent at the level and will be hoping for a place on the British team for the Young Rider Europeans.
“My goal is getting him to listen to me in the tests – he knows them so well now. At Keysoe he really listened to me. I’ve gone back to the basics with him as he knows the movements – doing transitions and riding our corners,” said Caitlin, who trains with Richard Preston.
Thirteen-year-old Millie Caldecott has been riding Beaurepaire Frodo (by Littledale Bright Star) for three years and the pair scored over 71% in the Children on Horses (CoH) team test. He is owned by her cousin Maddy Frewin, who owns ‘Freddy’ and trains her.
“We’re using the experience of the CoH tests this year and will go on to Pony tests next year,” explained her mum Maria. “Freddy is a bit of a character so he keeps Millie on her toes. She’s very dedicated and rides nearly every day, sometimes getting up at 6am to ride before school.”
Judging by the scores given for some of the young horse class winners, there are a number of future stars in the making.
Sarah Millis’s two BD international year class winners have something in common – they are both quick to learn and love their work.
Six-year-old Le Zorro (Hero x Florencio I) - pictured above - scored a fabulous 87.80% in his first ever test with a flying change in it. “One of the changes was a bit green as he finds them a bit exciting! That probably affected his 8.75 mark for his canter but he scored 10 for his trot,” she commented.
“He did a few five-year-old classes last year and showed himself nicely. He’s strengthened up over the winter and gained in confidence. He’s a super character with lots of ‘go’.”
Seven-year-old Kissingdale (Lord Leatherdale x Santana) has been owned by Sarah, David Crockford and Lilah Gibbs since being bought at auction in Holland as a two-year-old. “This was the first time he’s had to show four-time tempi changes and pirouettes in a test. He was a bit jolly and slightly playful as he only had 15 minutes warm-up. He’s got a really good brain, just needs to strengthen up and develop a bit more. He’s got a good talent for the piaffe and pirouettes.”
Another future contender is Matthew Burnett’s ride Mackintosh I (Giovanni x Olivi) who he owns with Sue Kirkpatrick and Lucy Jay. He scored over 80% in the five-year-old division of the international young horse class.
Dannie Morgan’s Fever Tree (Foundation x Dayano) also impressed the judges who scored him 87.4% in the KBIS Young Dressage Horse 4yo class. “I’m very lucky to have him,” said Dannie. “He was bred by David Stone and Colin Hicks of Bowlake Equestrian where I’m based, so I’ve known him since a foal. I backed him in November last year and bought him in January.
“Gordon is the most special horse I’ve ever had with three amazing paces. He’s been one of the most straightforward from the beginning and has so much scope. It’s nice to know he’s mine for the future.”
Dannie will use the young horse classes to introduce Gordon to the bigger shows where he can experience the atmosphere without feeling any pressure.
Another high scorer was Dan Henson’s Saint Tropez (Sand Brink x Fürst Romancier) ridden by Will Roberts in the KBIS Young Dressage Horse 6yo class. This was the first show for the combination which has only been together for a month.
“He’s a really big moving horse with really correct paces,” commented Dan. “He was a bit green when we got him. He’s quite a cheeky chap but has a lovely character. As his first show, you never know what to expect, so it was nice to be rewarded with such high marks (83.20%). We’ll carry on campaigning him in 6yo classes and start straight BD classes at the start of the winter.”
Holly Bates’ Hillgrounds Feinline was a bit unnerved in the warm-up by the sound of flapping flags but put it behind him to take a resounding win with 85.60% in the KBIS Young Dressage Horse 5yo class. “We only had a tiny blip in the medium canter,” said a delighted Holly, who bought ‘Basil’ from breeder Claire Skinner as a foal. “I saw a clip of him as a foal on Facebook and bought him straight away as there was a lot of interest. Last year we got to the Nexgen young horse finals but he was still a bit immature. This year he’s much more ready to see the world.”
“He got 9.8 for his trot – nearly a 10! I’m really lucky to have him.”
Results - top three
Friday 29 April
LeMieux Grand Prix
1. Fiona Bigwood and Daytona Platinum, 71.81%
2. Daniel Sherriff and I’m Bayford Hall Incognito, 71.77%
3. Andrew Gould and Genie I, 71.26%
U25 Grand Prix
1. Sarah Rao and Alfranco 65.96%
2. Sarah Rao and King Ron P, 60.77%
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
1. Michael Eilberg and Figlio, 70.63%
2. Emily Ormerod and Freya FST, 70.00%
3. Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus, 69.36%
Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium 96
1. Michael Eilberg and MSJ Encore, 71.27%
2. Becky Latimer and Vilan, 69.47%
3. Zoe Sleigh and Zall Svensvang, 69.03%
BD International Young Horse 6YO
1. Sarah Millis and Le Zorro, 87.80%
2. Sarah Rogers and First Light, 82.20%
3. Sarah Rogers and Forest Hill, 75.80%
Fairfax Saddles PSG
1. Michael Eilberg and MSJ Dante VX, 73.72%
2. Amy Woodhead and Mount St John VIP, 71.32%
3. Dannie Morgan and Loxley’s Optimist. 69.26%
BD International Young Horse 5YO
1. Matthew Burnett and Mackintosh 1 80.20%
2. Tor Fenwick and TFD Minneapolis, 77.40%
3. Sarah Millis and Macklin, 76.60%
BD International Young Horse 7YO
1. Sarah Millis and Kissingdale, 73.15%
2. Dylan Deutrom and King Boy, 69.02%
Saturday 30 April
Advanced Medium 96 7yo
1. Michael Eilberg and Encore, 76.89%
2. Louise Bell and Zinkwasi, 69.32%
3. Alejandro Farina and Warjag WD, 69.24%
FEI Pony Individual
1. Abigail Gray and Godrics Campeggio, 71.12%
2. Fi Grabham and Zothen’s Dance Lady, 68.33%
3. Myles Graham and Dresscode Cocktail, 67.88%
Children on Horses Individual
1. Isla Scully and Jersey Boy, 67.14%
2. Natasha MacDonald and Sauvey Golden Condor, 60.74%
FEI Junior Individual
1. Annabella Pidgley and Sultan Des Paluds, 76.07%
2. Annabella Pidgley and Espe, 75.29%
3. Rose Foley and Corchapin, 70.68%
FEI Young Rider Individual
1. Caitlin Burgess and Chocotof, 72.25%
2. Claudia Davis and Fergus RT, 69.11%
3. Chloe Hill and Fort Knoxx, 68.61%
Advanced Medium Freestyle
1. Claudia Davis and Fergus RT, 73.22%
2. Lara Edwards and Florence PFB, 70.38%
3. Fenella Quinn and Barcelona De Malleret, 70.38%
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
1. Michael Eilberg and MSJ Dante VX, 73.03%
2. Andrew Gould and Rockwood Virtue, 71.42%
3. Emma Blundell and Mount St John VIP, 70.73%
Prix St Georges Freestyle
1. Harriette Williams and Creto, 70.83%
2. Kate Humphrey-Lear and OSH Furisan, 64.95%
3. Katie Newland and Dacapo III, 61.25%
Intermediate I Freestyle
1. Emma Bond and Limewalk, 70.04%
2. Martin Schleicher and Kings Advocate II, 65.04%
3. Holly Norris and Rubaloo 64.75%
Grand Prix Freestyle
1. Lara Edwards and Jazzed Up, 69.66%
2. Vicky Thomson Winfield and Esquire III, 69.58%
3. Sarah Rao and Alfranco, 68.45%
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
1. Sarah Higgins and Sirius Black III, 72.79%
2. Fiona Brennan and De Angelis II, 71.61%
3. Sarah Higgins and Samuel, 71.56%
Sunday 1 May
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
1. Harriette Williams and Creto, 71.56%
2. Michael Eilberg and Distinction MSJ, 71.02%
3. Davy Harvey and Hawtins Rossana, 70.14%
Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium 98
1. Amy Woodhead and Mount St John Jazz Dance, 71.36%
2. Sara-Jane Lanning and Breit Fantastic, 70.26%
3. Lara Edwards and Florence PFB, 69.64%
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
1. Emma Blundell and Mount St John VIP, 74.55%
2. Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysys, 72.97%
3. Fiona Brennan and De Angelis II, 70.34%
Stübben Intermediate II
1. Annabella Pidgley and Gio, 78.52%
2. Amy Woodhead and Mount St John Valencia, 71.27%
3. Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Bella Ruby, 71.02%
KBIS Young Dressage Horse 4YO
1. Dannie Morgan and Fever Tree, 87.40%
2. Jennifer Martell and MSJ Secretly, 86.80%
3. Bryony Goodwin and SJL Davino, 81.00%
KBIS Young Dressage Horse 5YO
1. Holly Bates and Hillgrounds Feinline, 85.60%
=2. Sarah Khairallah and Firecracker, 79.20%
=2. Bryony Goodwin and Ferdinand X, 79.20%
KBIS Young Dressage Horse 6YO
1. William Roberts and Saint Tropez, 83.20%
2. Amy Woodhead and Mount St John Diamonds Are Forever, 82.20%
3. Charles Davis and Quenta B D 77.00%
KBIS Young Dressage Pony 4YO
=1. Alice Perry and WFD Champagne Supernova 67.40%
=1. Charlotte Drakely and MM Sweet Sass, 67.40%
KBIS Young Dressage Pony 5YO
1. Bryony Goodwin and Asterhof’s It’s Gino, 76.00%
2. Charlotte Drakely and MM Chartstürmer WE, 63.00%
FEI Junior Team
1. Annabella Pidgley and Sultan Des Paluds, 76.50%
2. Myles Graham and Nibeley Union Hit, 70.45%
3. Rose Foley and Corchapin, 68.63%
Children on Horses Team
1. Millie Caldecott and Beaurepaire Frodo, 71.45%
2. Natasha MacDonald and Sauvey Golden Condor, 68.67%
3. Isla Sully and Jersey Boy, 60.35%
FEI Pony Team
1. Myles Graham and Dresscode Cocktail, 71.66%
2. Beatrice Butterworth and Carlsson, 71.52%
3. Beatrice Butterworth and Non Plus Ultra 68.95%
FEI Young Riders Team
1. Caitlin Burgess and Chocotof, 72.36%
2. Maddy Frewin and Blue Hors Dexter, 68.23%
3. Maddy Frewin and Gullit, 67.99%
Photo © Kevin Sparrow