Myerscough produces Para magic!
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The hardworking team at Myerscough pulled off an historic Equissage Pulse Para Dressage Winter Championship while battling the toughest conditions thrown at them by Storm Dennis, hot on the heels of their North West Regional Championship. The bustling Lancashire college has hosted the championships for two years but this was by far the largest gathering of para competition yet. Over 175 entries were received with 160 actual starters over the four days of competition – quite a rate of growth from 40 four years ago.
Championship classes for the five grades with Bronze, Silver and Gold sections featured alongside summer championship qualifiers, FEI Team tests for the Gold riders to hone their skills and an inaugural Freestyle Gala evening on Friday night where all riders were invited to enter with a prize on offer in each grade, presented by none other than operatic icon Russell ‘the Voice’ Watson and his wife Louise, a keen dressage competitor herself (pictured above with Sophie Wells).
In the Equissage Pulse Bronze Championships, it was a great mix of new and old, with a number of riders making a championship debut alongside familiar faces. The Grade I title went to Essex rider Sophie Lingfield and her charming traditional cob Trust April with 66.04%. Sophie, who rides with the Chigwell Riding Trust for Special Needs, didn’t have much time to celebrate as she needed to head home to be ready to start new job on the Monday as a Data Scientist!
The Grade II honours went to debutant Jason Inchely riding the 10 year old British bred Rubin Ryella, by Royal Edition. A score of 67.06% took the title at their first attempt, a day the duo will never forget. In the Grade III, it was a real story to inspire from our winner, Craig Harrison. Part of the Raby House Stables Para Team, Craig was diagnosed with anal cancer just before Christmas last year but his treatment plan gave him a window to be able to make the championships, just not the funds. With trainer Faye Beford and fellow rider Lily Hughes, he ran a fundraiser and funding page to get them to Myerscough which got them down the centreline. He rode a great test with Storm XII to win with 65.09% and said afterwards; “It’s been a brilliant few days – the first time since Christmas where the ‘c word’ hasn’t been the focus which is great. I’ve not had much preparation as I wasn’t sure we’d get here but thanks to everyone, we have. It’s a real team effort and I have great support, I’ve got the easy job really!” Craig (pictured below) left Myerscough to start his cancer treatment the very next day - we hope it all goes well.
Grade IV launched another new name in the para ranks, Laura Scott. Laura, originally an event rider, is back riding after an accident riding a young horse and her resulting injuries have classified her in the grade. She partnered Koko Pop to score 70% to win. Koko Pop has also had a change of discipline after the Australian bred gelding decided jumping wasn’t for him and he much prefers the white boards, so Laura took over the reins from William Fox-Pitt and owner Catherine Witt. The Grade V sash was proudly worn by former GP Ursula Treadgold who has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and left side weakness as a result of a stroke. It took her a long time to find the right horse but in Tyler II, a bouncy skewbald, she has a great partner. “He was a bit bolshie today!” she declared. “He wasn’t quite on my aids but he’s such a sweet boy.” They earned an overall score of 69.17% from FEI judges Kjell Mhyer and Sarah Leitch.
There were no qualified riders in the Grade I Silver Championship but the remainder of the Equissage Pulse classes were well supported. Grade II honours went to Welsh rider Veronica Bower who, at 73, is proof that ‘you’re never too old’! Veronica took to riding to help manage her MS and through trainer Tracy-Anne Ormrod has found the perfect dancing partner in Game Over, or Daisy. The Dutch bred by Furstenball was in fine fettle with her rider to score 67.83%.
The Grade III title was also taken by a veteran, but this time on the horse side when 22 year old Sheepcote Catkin, bred in Britain by Cassander, scored 65.2% with rider Denise Smith for the second year in a row. Denise, who’s part of the Clwyd Special Riding Centre, has progressive cerebellar ataxia which affects her balance, speech and sight and the duo have been together eight years. The Grade IV was also a case of a successful title defend for Sara Bates and Tango VII (pictured below), who also compete able bodied, on 68.16%. West Country rider Hope Hayward also kept her title in the Grade V but this time with her new ride, Et L’Amour on 66.56%.
The Equissage Pulse Gold ranks certainly gave our Tokyo hopefuls chance to lay down early season selection claims. Multi Paralympic Grade I medallist Sophie Christiansen is campaigning two horses and on this occasion it was Innuendo II who was the winner with an impressive 78.12%. Paralympic icon Sir Lee Pearson topped a competitive Grade II competition with his own home bred Breezer III on 74.34% while in the Grade III, Natasha Baker showed that, although young, Keystone Dawn Chorus has star credentials to post 76.54% to give a nearly seven percent margin of victory (pictured below). A win for World Class Podium Potential rider Marcelle Ward with Dornroeschen on 71.71% in a close fought Grade IV class put her name in the hat for a first team call up while Sophie Wells and Charlotte Hogg’s C Fatal Attraction were untouchable on their first competitive outing since last year’s LeMieux National Championships – 82.44% was their runaway score.
Friday night was for dancing…as Kelly Thompson and BD Para Director Julie Frizzell’s vision became reality for our first ever Para Freestyle Gala Night. Kelly had also secured Russell and Louise Watson as guests of honour and they were on hand to present prizes. It was a fantastic spectacle of para freestyle with riders from all grades and sections taking part, including some who’d never ridden to music before, all under the judging of Kjell Myyer and Sarah Leitch, both of whom will be on the panel in Tokyo. Congratulations to our winners in each grade – but also to everyone who just had a go!
Thanks to everyone who made this event possible, particularly our loyal sponsors Equissage Pulse who help us to continue to grow and develop para sport in the dressage community.
Photos © Majestic Photography
Roll of honour
Bronze Sophie Lingfield and Trust April, 66.04%
Silver No competitors
Gold Sophie Christiansen and Innuendo III, 78.12%
Freestyle Gabriella Blake and Strong Beau, 72.72%
Bronze Jason Inchley and Rubin Ryella, 67.06%
Silver Veronica Bower and Game Over, 67.83%
Gold Lee Pearson and Breezer III, 74.34%
Freestyle Georgia Wilson and Sugarbabe 71.37%
Bronze Craig Harrison and Storm, 65.09%
Silver Denise Smith and Sheepcote Catkin, 65.2%
Gold Natasha Baker and Keystone Dawn Chorus, 76.54%
Freestyle Erin Orford and LJT Diamond Crusador 77%
Bronze Laura Scott and Koko Pop, 70%
Silver Sara Bates and Tango VII, 68.16%
Gold Marcelle Ward and Dornroeschen, 71.71%
Freestyle Marcelle Ward and Dornroschen 73.20%
Bronze Ursula Treadgold and Tyler II, 69.17%
Silver Hope Hayward and Et L’Amour, 66.56%
Gold Sophie Wells and C Fatal Attraction, 82.44%
Freestyle Sophie Wells and C Fatal Attraction, 82%