NAF Five Star Winter Championships 23: day four

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Sun, 23 Apr 2023 08:16

The penultimate day of the Championships and it was the turn of the under 21s in the Petplan Equine Championships, with three of our NAF Five Star Championship winners returning to the top spot on the podium for the second time this week.

HorseHage Preliminary Silver Winter Championship 
Winner: Manon Roberts and Gilinda, 74.48% 
Conwy-based youth rider Manon Roberts (17), made it two titles in two consecutive years with a win in the first class of the penultimate day, the HorseHage Preliminary Silver Winter Championships. On board Stena Hoerner’s 12 year old Gilinda (Sorrento x Don Primaire), Manon rode to a superb 74.48% in front of Janet Surr, Fiona Wilson and Susie Cumine.

Speaking about her performance in the NAF Five Star Arena, Manon said “she was super, she stayed with me the whole way today, you never really know what you’re going to get with her being a mare, she was great today – I couldn’t fault her.”

The KWPN mare was backed and produced by Stena, who handed the reins to Manon in September 2022, “she’s really good at home, sometimes she comes out a bit sassy, but that’s just her personality. Her trot is quite good, she generally marks quite high in that, it’s quite nice to ride, nice and floaty.”

Manon was full of praise for her employers Stena Hoerner and Greg Sims who’ve given her a wonderful opportunity to experience riding and competing their super mare: “I’ve had the ride on her since September so not very long really, I feel very grateful to have been offered to ride a horse like this, not really something you get to do very often. it’s great working on a yard like that, we’re quite a close knit yard, there’s only a couple of us, which is great as everyone works closely together and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”

The duo impressed in their qualification bid for the NAF Five Star Winter Championships, where they won their regional class back in February, when asked if she’d expected to do well at the finals, Manon concluded, “no, it was just an experience, something to add to the list so to come away with a win is great. It’s really special.” Manon will now look to make the step up to Elementary, whilst aiming for the Summer Regionals at Novice level. 

Second placed went to Josh Kehoe with Pamela Kehoe and Rebecca Hutton’s five year old Frankfurt, whilst Julian Agnello De Vaz Carreiro completed the top three riding Pammy Hutton’s Abildgaards Sensation (Revolution x Esteban); the two combinations were separated by less than one percent, both earning impressive 72% scores.  

Petplan Equine Elementary Bronze Under 21 Area Festival Championship 
Winner: Kizzie Lucas and Candito, 72.11%

Day four saw the first of the Petplan Equine Area Festivals Under 21 Championships kick off, with the Elementary Bronze, topped by Hartpury College student Kizzie Lucas and her own Candito, scoring an impressive 72.11%. 

Kizzie, who described feeling “elated” and “ excited” by her win, said the 10-year-old bay gelding “coped with the atmosphere really well, he was on my aids, he worked with me as a partnership harmoniously and that’s exactly what I wanted.”

Training with Levi Hunt, the pair have only been together for seven months yet have already won at their first Championships together, Kizzie describes her new partner as “so funny, so relaxed but when he has his moments all the dragon comes out and we’re piaffing everywhere and snorting! He’s so lovely, so trainable and willing to learn and just very forgiving.”

On her preparation for today, Kizzie said “I go to Hartpury College so I’m away from home a lot of the time, so I’ve had a lot of help from the Hartpury Equine Academy to train. I went home for half term and we did the Area Festival at Beacons Equestrian, and I was second by 0.2% so that put me in the under 21s. Ut was a great experience and having Petplan Equine there is a great pathway into these Championships”

Supported by two very proud parents who were there watching her today, Kizzie has grown up with horses, having done Showing from the age of 4, until she was 16. She started dressage when she was asked to be on a Quest team, and hasn’t looked back since “Quest was a very friendly atmosphere, a lot of support and team mates, and then I went to the Quest Championships in 2019 and that was my first experience of a dressage championships.”

When talking of the step up to the Petplan Equine Area Festivals from Quest, she said “it is not a big step because there’s a lot of support around you and you just fall into it and feel part of a community, you don’t feel like you’re out in the big wide world. The Area Festivals are always very friendly, organisers are friendly, the lap of honours – everything, is all great. To then come to here, it’s a big step but because you’re part of the Petplan Equine Area Festivals you feel like you’re not on your own as you’ve got a support network around you.”

Outside of the arena, there is no rest for Kizzie, who is currently revising for her A Levels and about to take her driving test, as well as turning 18 in a couple of months. Described as “driven” by her Mum, Kizzie’s next plans within dressage are aiming for the Home Youth Nations, and then she has her sights set high on “advancing up the levels hopefully, PSG is the aim so fingers crossed!” 
Charlotte Morris came in second with Shamrocks Cavalier, scoring 69.22%, followed closely by Daisy Winkle in third place riding Decandro Hit LDS with a score of 68.78%. 

Equitex Advanced Medium Gold Winter Championship 
Winner: Davy Harvey with Diamond Blue, 72.85%

Davy Harvey’s stellar week continued today with his second win of the Championships, this time with the stunning black gelding Diamond Blue in the Equitex Advanced Medium Gold Winter Championship. The Don Frederic-sired 10-year-old, bred here in the UK by Rosie Moreton-Deakin and owned by Judy Peploe, was beautifully presented by Davy to deliver a winning 72.85% from judges Sue McMahon, Mary-Anne Horn and Penelope Lang.

Davy said “we just went for it! It’s easy to be cautious and focus on the things you can’t do, and try and have a safe round. But we’d rather come out saying well it came off or it didn’t come off and go for it. I think you’ve got to here – it's hard work and takes a long time to qualify them."

“He was really obliging, he wanted to do it, he was quite supple, quite forward, he didn’t get stage fright, he sometimes goes in and can hide a little bit but he was happy to show off today.”

On Diamond Blue and what he’s like, Davy said “he’s really nice, he’s gaining a lot more enthusiasm for it, a year and a half ago or so if you’d asked him if he wanted to come or stay at home, I think he’d rather stay at home. But actually he seems to be really enjoying it – he's willing and happy, it’s nice to feel like they’re enjoying it and you’re not forcing him to do it. I think he’d rather be here now given the option.”

Buoyed by a fantastic win in the previous day’s Superflex Intermediate I aboard Hawtins Rossana, the talented 28-year-old yet again rode with confidence and feel, to showcase his horse’s talent. On being asked whether having won already this week changes his mindset though, Davy siad it doesn’t; “not for me, I’m pretty laid back and you’ve just got to get on with it, it’s lovely and really nice, it’s amazing, I never thought I’d be able to win anything here, it’s fantastic. But I still worry that I’m not going to be great when I go in there.” 

Jess Dunn with Jennifer Whittaker’s Dan It’s Carston (by Durable) took second place on the leader board with a score of 72.11%, while Mark Forrest and the German born Flavio B (by Fürst Romancier) completed the top three on 71.67%. 

Prestige Novice Silver Winter Championship 
Winner: Virginie de Senneville with Fire Kracka, 74.44%

Virginie de Senneville and the Hanoverian stallion Fire Kracka, owned by Claire Wyatt, concluded their sensational week at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships with victory number two, this time in the Prestige Novice Silver Championship. 

As with all sports, success breeds success and we saw the great form of two title holders brought to the table once more with HorseHage Preliminary Silver winner Manon Roberts placing second with Stena Hoerner’s Gilinda and Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver champion Scott Williams taking third this time around with Judy Peploe’s Sapphire Blue. There are close ties also between the winning most and second placed contenders, with Stena and partner Greg Sims taking ‘Kracka’ through the backing phase of his education.  
“It feels amazing! I definitely can’t complain, everything’s been brilliant,” Virginie expressed before admitting to not expecting the week’s successes, “we just take it day by day, we just have a very good routine and system, we never push it or rush – whatever happens happens. I’m just so proud of him.”

Speaking about what made her second winning test so good, she continued, “Just the fact that it’s such a big atmosphere and he didn’t disconnect at any point, the whole time from the beginning to the end he just stayed with me. He never looked at anything, he listened to everything and he’s always ready.”

‘Kracka' as he’s known at home is cared for and managed by owner Claire, when asked about how important it is to have the support of a dedicated owner, Virginie commented: “I think we make a really good team! Claire is amazing with Kracka, she looks after him so well. We listen and communicate about everything, feed, physio, vet farrier, training plan. There’s very little disagreement and it’s amazing, Claire is a great owner and I’m very lucky.”

With three National level titles under his belt, the future looks bright for this rising talent and the team around have high hopes for his future whilst taking it at a caring pace: “I think he can go really well, he’s cared for so well, he’s got an amazing team around. We’ll just go at his rhythm and his pace, so far he’s been incredible and just gives so much back. It makes it even better, you can work hard and have horses that don’t particularly want to do it but he loves his work and he’s amazing. Hopefully we can go to the top...but I don’t want to jinx it!” 

Petplan Equine Elementary Silver Under 21 Area Festival Championship  
Winner: Pippa Reed and Ilar Vincent, 68.33%

In a very tightly contested class, Pippa Reed and Ilar Vincent came out on top with a score that was just 0.05% ahead of second place.

16-year-old Pippa spoke of their test today, “I thought he did a really nice test, it was one of the best tests he’s ever done. He’s got a really nice canter, he’s very balanced and quite supple as well.”

Competing on the Welsh D, 17-year-old bay gelding, who is owned by Pippa’s mum Heidi Reed, Pippa spoke of her journey to the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships “We went to Parwood to qualify and got a wildcard to come here, he’s done really well to go from getting a wildcard to win it.”

Ilar Vincent can normally be found eventing with Mum Heidi, who often takes him to Badminton. Pippa has her own horse Loughmore Patrick, who she also competes with in dressage.

To help her prepare for the Championships, Pippa has been training with Charlotte Lassiter and Sara Jane Lanning (and Mum!), she says she’s “done a few tests and lots of lessons”. Her hopes for the future are to qualify for the youth home internationals and continue her involvement with BD Youth by completing her skills tests.

Lois Hughes and Woodlands Ugo were the combination that narrowly lost out on the top spot, finishing in second place with 68.28%, followed closely by Madi Mai Haerr and Rosewater Rockstar who scored 68.04%. 

Superflex Intermediate I Freestyle Gold Winter Championship 
Winner: Becky Moody with Jack Diamond, 75.46% 
Becky Moody has successfully defended her second title of the week, winning today’s Superflex Intermediate I Freestyle Gold with Jo Cooper’s exciting prospect, Jack Diamond. Already a winner of Thursday’s Magic Prix St Georges Freestyle aboard the stallion James Bond II, Becky was on top form once again to land a win in today’s hotly contested feature class.

A well-presented and expressive performance, set to music from The Full Monty soundtrack, was awarded an impressive score of 75.46% for Becky and nine-year-old gelding Jack Diamond (Electron x Diamond Hit). Nathalie Kayal and her own Woodcroft St Emilion (by St Moritz) followed in the runner-up position (73.21%) while Nikki Barker partnered her own and Becky Harrow’s Durable x Negro 10-year-old, Dan Icarus, to third place (72.92%).

Talking about her music choice, Becky commented: “The music was put together by Tony Hobden of Equidance. The Full Monty, first of all is a great film; secondly, it’s set in Sheffield which is a local city to me, being a northern lass. So, it has that little bit of personal connection as well.  

“It’s good fun music, and the horse has got that swagger,” smiled Becky, “so you can definitely imagine him shaking his hips to it!”

“I really tried to design the test to play to his (Jack Diamond’s) strengths,” continued Becky. “He’s got quite big, sweeping half passes, and bold extensions that he can show off, so that was good. We had slightly dubious pirouettes, which is a little bit where we’re at. They need to have a little more strength, a little more self-carriage and balance, but it’s a work in progress.”

Today marked Jack Diamond’s first win of the week, following third place on the podium in both the Magic Prix St Georges Freestyle Gold and the Superflex Intermediate I Gold. “He was third in the Prix St Georges Freestyle,” said Becky. “Then I wasn’t pleased with how I rode him yesterday in the Inter I - I made a couple of costly mistakes - but today we got our stuff together a little bit more, and he pulled it out of the bag. It was cool.”

Petplan Equine Preliminary Bronze Under 21 Area Festival Championship  
Winner: Annabelle Wesley and Armada Dyffryncothi Bridget, 72.15% 

The only rider to score above 70% in the Petplan Equine Preliminary Bronze Under 21 Area Festival Championship was Annabelle Weasley, who scored 72.15% to take first place with Armada Dyffryncothi Bridget.

12-year-old Annabelle described her experience of competing in the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships at Hartpury as very exciting, especially with all of the professionals riding in the same arena” and that it feels “really good!” to be the champion.

On the Welsh Cob, known as Scruffy at home, Annabelle says “she really loves working on her dressage as well as hacking, she’s really good to ride and her temperament is really good.“

Annabelle felt that most of their test was a highlight, and that her and the 14-year-old mare have been “training really hard at home and competing her to get ready for this.”

Annabelle, who is based in Worcestershire, and Scruffy have also competed in the British Dressage Quest series and describes the experience of moving between the series as “really fun”. 

Owned by Ros Tate, Armada Dyffryncothi Bridget is no stranger to BD Youth riders, having started Bridget Tate’s career back in 2014, before going on to help Lily Laughton at the start of her dressage journey. 
In second place Rupert Byam-Cook and Twyford Salamander 69.1%, Oliver Lawery and Seiont Glesyn 68.75%.

Petplan Equine Preliminary Bronze Area Festival Championship  
Winner: Holly Jessett and Lombard Lad, 72.15% 

Brackley-based eventing combination Holly Jessett and Lombard Lad turned their hooves to dressage over the winter and completed their Petplan Equine Area Festival journey with an emphatic win in the Preliminary Bronze Championship, the largest of the classes here at Hartpury with no fewer than 44 starters.

“My test went really well, super pleased with it,” 27 year old Holly explained, discussing her first win and first appearance at this event with her ten year old Irish-bred gelding, “he warmed up really nicely, he was nice and forward off my leg and as soon as we went into the arena he sparked up like he always does. He’s normally a little bit calmer in the warm up arena and then once he goes into the main arena he’s like ‘I know what I'm doing now’. We went down the centre line really positively and then from then on I just felt really happy throughout the whole test.”  

The winning score was a super 72.15%, to top a competitive field where the first seven placed combinations scored over 70%. “We did a nice stretch on a long rein and the halt was really good at the end,” Holly said about the test's highlights, “that’s something we’ve been working on at home, so it’s nice to see that coming on now. Really happy with how it’s all gone. We’ve been here since 9am this morning, but it’s been worth the wait though.”

Holly’s foray into dressage has provided the perfect preparation for a visit to the Badminton Grassroots Championships next month, “it’s my first year doing British Dressage, I thought it would be a nice thing to do in the winter just to keep his dressage ticking over so then it’s ready for eventing in the summer.

“My trainer, George he mentioned the Petplan Equine Area Festivals, because I was new to dressage and hadn’t heard of it before and he said it would be a great starting point for us with the dressage. We’ve been having lots of training on the flatwork and he said why not try it and see how you get on and we’ll go from there. I’ll aim for Novice next year and see what happens.”

Away from eventing and dressage, Holly works full time as a primary school teacher and commented on how she balances her career with horses: “It’s very busy with my job but I still manage to squeeze in the riding when I can in the week but I get quite a lot of help and he’s on full livery which is a god send. I couldn’t do it without the help that I get but I really enjoy it and I don’t think you could do this hobby without loving it.”

Concluding on her experience at the Petplan Equine Winter Area Festival Championships, the winning rider said, “I’ve never been before, it has a great atmosphere. The prize giving I was blown away, especially at my level too, to have a prize giving like that was brilliant. To get a rug and a sash it makes the day worth it.”

Beth Crawley with her own eight year old Glasker Anneka scored 71.60% to place second, with Rachel Williams just a whisker behind earning 71.25% with her own Glenfield Marlow (Kopperfield x Mamool), making it an all Irish-bred top three.  

Petplan Equine Preliminary Silver Under 21 Area Festival Championship   
Winner: Harriet Drewery with Desana, 70.56%

Lincolnshire 14-year-old, Harriet Drewery saw off the competition to win this afternoon’s Petplan Equine Preliminary Silver Under 21 Area Festival Championship. Partnered by Claire Drewery’s 14-year-old mare, Desana (by Diamond Hit), Harriet rode to a fabulous victory on a cracking score of 70.56% from the judges panel comprising Sharon Butterworth, Frances Turner and Mary Robins.

Petplan Equine Area Festival Championship first-timer Harriet was rightly delighted with the result: “I hoped to do well, but I never expected to win! I really loved every bit of our test. In our warm-up, she (Desana) was quite buzzy and excited, so when we went in there she was really focused on the test and what she was doing.”

Harriet, who has competed in BD competition for three years, trains with Lily Payne and has ridden Desana for the past ten months. The mare is described by Harriet as ‘very laid back and calm’. “You definitely wouldn’t know she’s a chestnut mare,” she says.

The partnership made their competition debut together in November last year, achieving a string of successes since, including gaining their ticket for Hartpury at Vale View’s Petplan Equine Winter Area Festival in January. About her journey through the Area Festival series, Harriet said: “I feel like it can be a little bit stressful at times, but for the most part it is amazing!

“What I love about dressage is how every movement is marked and how precise you need to be, the range of movements and the goal of moving up the levels. With Lily’s help, we’ve been working on learning to take a step back and calm down, take a breath and just carry on,” added Harriet who has her sights set on trying for regional teams and maybe, long-term, some international shows.

Keira Jasinski (16) claimed the runner-up spot with Vicki Jasinski’s nine-year-old Treworgan Dancing Diva (70.00%), with third place going to Grace Smith (13) partnered by Steph Robson’s 20-year-old dun and white pony, Mochaccino II, on 69.72%. 

Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver Championship  
Winner: Molly-Rowan Sharples with Sheepcote Jackson, 73.44% 
Young Herefordshire rider Molly-Rowan Sharples delivered a winning ride to take the 2023 Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver title at Hartpury this afternoon. In front of judges Sarah Leitch, Tim Downes and Heather Ashley, she piloted David Pincus’s Sheepcote Jackson to a decisive freestyle victory on a score of 73.44%. 
Molly-Rowan and Sheepcote Jackson have had a busy couple of years, winning the Petplan Equine Elementary Bronze Summer Area Festival in 2022 at Arena UK, speaking of her win, Molly-Rowan said “it means everything, I can’t quite believe it, I love doing the freestyles and I had such a great day with it, it’s just amazing. It's my second year of competing and it’s just insane.” 

The music from the class-winning freestyle was from musical Man of La Mancha “my boss David Pincus chose it, he’s always wanted to use it for one of his horses and it really compliments Jackson really well, I think the fanfares go really well with the medium trots.” 

Molly-Rowan spoke of how her test had gone, saying “today especially the music and the test meshed really well, the bits of music that worked well with the half passes or the extensions they just worked really well today, it felt fluid and I was just really happy with him.”

Molly-Rowan didn’t always plan to go down the dressage route however, with her sights originally set on eventing; “when I was 19 I really wanted to be an eventer and I was going to do six months of dressage and then go and do some jumping, but then I just completely fell in love with it and what comes with it and I haven’t looked back!”

The winning combination will be competing again on the final day of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships in the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver class. Looking further ahead Molly-Rowan wants to progress up the levels “we’re working on our changes and hopefully we’ll do Advanced Medium at some point, we want to keep getting better and keep learning.” 

The winning partnership’s closest challengers were Maeve Morris and 10-year-old Headmore Footloose (Florencio x Dimaggio), winners of Friday’s HorseLight Medium Silver, who scored 72.78%. Sarah Payne and her 11-year-old Rousseau-sired mare Woodlander Romance followed to complete the top three (71.06%). 

Molly-Rowan (21) is based at Sheepcote Equestrian, a renowned equestrian centre and stud in Herefordshire, where she started as a working pupil in 2021. Ten-year-old Sheepcote Jackson was bred by Serena and David Pincus, out of one of their mares and by the KWPN stallion Johnson. He has been partnered by Molly-Rowan since she joined the Sheepcote team. Molly-Rowan spoke of what it means to have the support of Serena and David, “it’s priceless, they've taught me so much and they’re the reason I’ve fallen in love with it, they’re amazing to work for and to learn from, I’m just very excited to keep on learning.”