Lanning and Howard dance to 2021 Middle Tour titles
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The British Dressage Middle Tour Festival was a great way to end the year for some of the country's leading combinations at Inter A, B and II levels. The 2021 titles were claimed by Sara-Jane Lanning with Sigurd and Georgina Howard with Lovely Illusion who won the Gold and Silver titles respectively.
Taking place at Keysoe High Profile Show, the British Dressage Middle Tour Festival, introduced in 2020, incorporates Inter II, Inter B and Intermediate A/B Freestyle classes with sections for both Gold and Silver combinations. The winner of each title is determined by the highest overall combined score across two of the tests.
The relatively new combination of Sara-Jane Lanning and her 15-year-old Danish gelding, Sigurd (by Richman) - pictured above, sealed victory with a win in Saturday’s Intermediate A/B Freestyle Gold following a super second place, on 68.41%, in Thursday’s Inter B Gold.
“I was delighted with him [Sigurd], and it was a fun way to finish the year,” said Sara-Jane afterwards. “I was most pleased with his Inter B test, but I also love doing the music. Mine’s all from the animated film Madagascar and it suits the character of the horse well.”
Sara-Jane, a List 1 Judge based in Hampshire, first competed Sigurd in July last year. “I bought him the day before the first lockdown,” she said. “He was beautifully trained by his previous owner, who I’d known for years, but she sadly didn’t have time to do him due to her work commitments; so she offered him to me and I slowly brought him back into work.”
On form all year, the combination claimed top-five placings in the PSG and Inter I freestyle classes at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships along with achieving strong scores in the small tour gold classes at the LeMieux National Championships in September. “It’s his consistency that’s his strength,” commented Sara-Jane.
“The Middle Tour Festival is a great opportunity to ride those three tests together and a good way to finish the year for horses at the level,” she added.
Ambitious amateur Georgina Howard took the Silver title home to Kent. With her 18-year-old Danish born gelding, Lovely Illusion (by Quite Easy) - pictured above, she claimed Friday’s Inter II Silver before achieving a decisive victory in Saturday’s Inter A/B Freestyle Silver.
“It was fabulous. I was delighted,” said Georgina afterwards. “It’s the only championship you can do with Inter II Silver so it’s what we headed for, and it was probably the best he’s ever gone.”
Their freestyle, set to a compilation of Irish and Scottish music, was awarded the winning mark of 67.70% from the judging panel of Richard Baldwin (H), Clive Halsall (C) and Mary Robins (B). “I put the music together with Julie Geraghty. Normally my husband does it but because it needs a bit more punctuation at this level, I got Julie’s help. It’s like having a party and he [Lovely Illusion] loves it!”
Lovely Illusion, known at home as Archie, was found in Denmark six years ago; however, because of a series of the same unusual injury on three of his legs, each time resulting in surgery, is low mileage for his 18 years.
“The injury is so rare that before Archie’s there’d been only four known cases across Europe; however, they all came back OK,” explained Georgina. “He’s had an awful lot of time off but he’s now been in consistent work for a year and feels so much better in his whole body.”
This established pairing has enjoyed a fantastic year finishing towards the top of the leaderboard in both the PSG Silver and Inter I Silver at the LeMieux National Championships at Somerford Park.
“He really is such a lovely horse and I’m very excited. I’d love to do a Grand Prix with him and get some qualifying scores to compete at a CDI.”
Georgina is currently competing six horses and trains with Michael Eilberg. “Michael travels down here to host a two-day clinic once a month, and I occasionally go up to his for training. He has been a huge help and support.”
Second place in the Middle Tour Silver Championship belonged to Andrea Baliarda, a UK-based Spanish rider and trainer, with Karen Bourdon’s 14-year-old PRE stallion, Deseado CCV.
Congratulations to all who took part and thank you to the team at Keysoe International for hosting the event. A full report on the Keysoe High Profile Show will follow soon.
Middle Tour Festival results
Class 7B: Intermediate B Gold
1. Anna Ross and Habouche, 68.92%
2. Sara-Jane Lanning and Sigurd, 68.41%
3. Nikolas Kroencke and Flanell, 67.93%
4. Daisy Coakley and Cleopatra II, 67.85%
5. Sally Bell and State Secret, 65.63%
6. Sarah Higgins and King Ron P, 63.45%
7. Beth Bainbridge and QuaterMagic, 61.74%
Class 13C: Intermediate II Gold
1. Daisy Coakley and Cleopatra II, 65.57%
2. Sara-Jane Lanning and Sigurd, 64.73%
3. Sally Bell and State Secret, 64.21%
4. Gemma Maddocks and El Paso Van Overis, 63.55%
Class 13B: Intermediate II Silver
1. Georgina Howard and Lovely Illusion, 65.65%
2. Andrea Baliarda and Deseado CCV, 64.47%
3. Mark Walters and Iceblue Valentino, 60.13%
Class 21B: Intermediate A/B Freestyle Gold
1. Sara-Jane Lanning and Sigurd, 67.58%
2. Sally Bell and State Secret, 63.83%
3. Daisy Coakley and Cleopatra II, 62.50%
Class 21A: Intermediate A/B Freestyle Silver
1. Georgina Howard and Lovely Illusion, 67.70%
2. Andrea Baliarda and Deseado CCV, 61.66%
1. Sara-Jane Lanning and Sigurd (68.41, 64.73, 67.58, Total: 67.99)
2. Daisy Coakley and Cleopatra II (67.85, 65.57, 62.50, Total: 65.17)
3. Sally Bell and State Secret (65.63, 64.21, 63.83, Total: 64.73%)
1. Georgina Howard and Lovely Illusion (65.65, 67.70)
2. Andrea Baliarda and Deseado CCV (64.47, 61.66)
Photo © Kevin Sparrow