Kroenke & Tapner win BD Middle Tour Championships
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Taking place alongside the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships, the British Dressage Middle Tour Championships lit up Arena UK with two worthy new victors crowned.
Nikolas Kroenke and the 12 year old Flanell were the runaway winners of the Middle Tour Gold Championships, showing their class across the two rounds taking place on Friday 6 October and Saturday 7 October. In the FEI Inter II competition, the combination scored 72.500% to earn an early lead in the two stage competition, with the judges panel of Kim Ratcliffe (E), Mary Robins (C) and Claire Ballantyne (M) rewarding a secure performance. The FEI Inter A/B Freestyle followed on Saturday evening, where the Area Festival audience were treated to a sublime test by the winning duo, where they notched up an impressive 75.250%.
Speaking about his performance Nikolas said, "Overall I was very pleased with Flanell, you never do a perfect test - I think I swung around a little fast in the left canter pirouette but otherwise I'm more than pleased! We only stepped up to Inter II and Grand Prix level this year, I rode my first Grand Prix and actually I don't think I've competed for six or seven months now! So for a first show back it couldn't have gone better."
Nikolas did a superb job of adapting his floorplan to maximise the opportunity on the night, talking through his music he admitted, "If I'm honest I stole the freestyle from my wife! It's a unique one here because it's an Inter A/B Freestyle which we don't see very often, so we were frantically trying to repurpose a Grand Prix Freestyle to fit Inter A/B. I've been listening to the music all day on repeat to try and nail it all in my head! I tried to have fun with it and I made some small changes in the test but it was alright."
"Flanell has been in the family for a while," the Cotswolds-based German rider said of his stallion by Fidertanz and out of a De Niro mare, "my mother in law rode him for a client when he was younger, then my wife took over and when we moved over from Germany to the UK, we were fortunate enough to buy him and I've always enjoyed him but I've only really started riding him when Kathleen was pregnant with our first child!"
"He's the only stallion we have in the yard, he's the king of the castle and he knows it too! He gets along with the other horses, he loves training and is always motivated. I can take him hacking and cantering, he loves all that stuff too - I don't think he'd actually like to do dressage every day."
Kimberley Siddorn and Dutch Class were reserve champions in the Gold section, with the combination retaining their day one standing after a fantastic 71.417% freestyle performance; Mark Forrest and Sheepcote Correlator (Contendro I x Don Primero), owned and bred by the Pincus family, took the final step of the podium in third.
Georgina Tapner and Bugatti II were emphatic overall winners of the Middle Tour Silver Championships, capitalising on a healthy day one lead to take the title. The duo, who are former winners at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, scored 64.608% in the Inter II before going on to deliver another consistent 64.642 in the Inter A/B Freestyle competition.
"This was my first ever dressage to music test! It's quite a high level to start," Georgina explained about her incredible introduction to freestyle competition at a championship final, "today didn't go quite to plan [speaking about the freestyle], we did lots of really nice work but I missed two lines of changes which was quite costly but luckily yesterday he was a good boy so it pulled us through."
Georgina only began planning her freestyle programme four weeks ago when she found out she'd qualified for the Middle Tour Championships, "having watch the Gold class I think I could maybe ramp it up a bit for next year! My music was created by Equidance, there's Michael Jackson in there who's my favourite childhood musician, so I really enjoyed it."
"He's lovely," Georgina said about her winning partner, who's been on quite the journey with her through the levels as her first dressage horse, "I've had him since he was four and we've learnt everything together. Sometimes I don't even know if I'm piaffing or passaging or what I'm doing! But we're learning and we're getting there. He's a real trier, he gives me his heart and soul and you can't ask for much more."
"We're going to have a little holiday because the last few weeks have been quite intense, and then I think I'm just going to consolidate at this level. This is only my fourth ever time competing at this level and we're still very new, " the Wiltshire-based rider concluded about her next goals.
Silver Championship runner ups Claire Ackerman and her own Hochadel-sired gelding Woodcroft Heinrich were joint second place scorers in the Inter A/B Freestyle competition with fellow former Area Festival Champions Rhiannon Hinton and Quaikin Horatio, who completed the top three. Lindsay Middleton and the Irish-bred 17 year old Your Bard were winners of the Inter A/B Freestyle on the night, with a top performance rewarded 65.583% by judges Claire Ballantyne (E), Mary Robins (C) and Harry Payne (M).
British Dressage thanks host venue Arena UK and Sue Carson Saddles for her generous support of the BD Middle Tour Championship prizes.
1. Nikolas Kroenke and Flanell, 147.750%
2. Kimberley Siddorn and Dutch Class, 138.770%
3. Mark Forrest and Sheepcote Correlator, 134.365%
4. Tyler Bradshaw and Igor VIII, 133.775%
5. Sara Gallop and Rock That Tango, 133.277%
6. Jessica Hickey and Eagle Nouvelle, 130.945%
7. Holly Colgate Cooke and Dalvangs Lorenzo, 130.424%
8. Georgina Howard and Lovely Illusion, 129.444%
9. Sally Walker and Wilton, 125.998%
10. Lindsay Hancock and Barachiel, 125.886%
1. Georgina Tapner and Bugatti II, 129.233%
2. Claire Ackerman and Woodcroft Heinrich, 127.699%
3. Rhiannon Hinton and Quaikin Horatio, 125.199%
4. Lindsay Middleton and Your Bard, 124.357%
5. Debbie Poynter and Keystone For Real, 120.603%
6. Josephine Clewlow and Bon Jovi AKW, 120.018%
Photos © Kevin Sparrow