NAF Five Star Winter Championships: day four
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Day four at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships was one of variety as we had winners right from the age of twelve through to the most decorated rider in British Dressage history. The day started with three simultaneous Preliminary classes with the two outdoor arenas bathed in welcome sunshine.
A seven hour journey from Dumfries St Galloway was more than worthwhile for 15-year-old Carla Milne as she took the KBIS Preliminary Silver Championship in fine style with her own Hey Good Looking GK on a score of 70.46%.
‘I didn’t expect to hold on to the lead’ said a shocked Carla Milne who was first to trot down the centre line in the large class, ‘he felt really good, he’s only been in work for a couple of days because of a sore hoof. It was caused by a trapped stone, we managed to sort it on Tuesday and arrive here on Wednesday!
‘He trotted really nicely and he can overpower himself in the canter, but it went really well’ Carla added about her test.
It was love at first sight for Carla and ‘Cookie’ ‘I’ve owned him for about two years, we found him on the BD website and he came to us from Dutch Sport Horses. He’s a lovely horse, when he’s at home he loves going out and playing with his friends in the field.’ The six-year-old Dutch gelding is by Chello III VDL and out of an Elcaro mare.
It was a great morning for the Youth riders as 10-year-old Daisy Mansfield scored 70.23% to finish second whilst third place went to Ashlene Bagshaw and Alan Drane’s Dancier sired mare Danseuse.
Petplan Equine Preliminary U18 Area Festival Championship
It was a first Championship win for 12-year-old Annabel Coller who triumphed in the Petplan Equine Preliminary U18 Area Festival Championship with her charming 13hh coloured mare, Haybell’s Cinderella. The diminutive duo scored 71.25% to top the class ahead of Olivia Walker with Hilary Janion’s QEG Lux and Daisy Davies with Amarda Dyffryncothi Bridget who completed a youthful podium.
The Coller family gave lots of praise and credit to trainer Bobby Hayler who had an early start to work Annabel in for her U18 test. Annabel has attended several of Bobby’s training camps at her base in Chelmsford as well as receiving coaching from Jade Holleman.
‘Her trot work was nice and even, she didn’t rush anything’ Annabel said about her test, ‘She worked in really well and she’s so well behaved. I’ve had her for three years and she was my first dressage pony. I do lots of dressage and hacking at home, sometimes we’ll jump too.’ Commenting on her Championship experience she continued, ‘I arrived on Friday and it’s been a really good experience, I’ve enjoyed it!'
‘I’ve outgrown her now so I’ve unfortunately got to sell her,’ Annabel reflected. Haybell’s Cinderella was supposed to be sold in September 2017 but Annabel retained her with the Championships in mind, the super pony will now move on to her new home and Annabel will move on to a new horse.
Petplan Equine Inter II Silver Area Festival Championship
The Saturday crowds gathered outside as the highest level of test to be ridden took place today at the Winter Championships and it was Leicestershire’s Ann Staines who claimed the top spot in the Petplan Equine Inter II Area Festival Championship aboard her own 15-year-old Rubin Royal gelding Royal Standard with a score of 64.74%.
‘Our test didn’t actually go very well,’ announced Ann. ‘Well it did but we had a bit of a mistake in the canter pirouette and the twos. He just mis-stepped into the pirouette and lost his balance, then in his ones he was slightly late behind in the first but the rest were fine. His way of going isn’t as good as when he does a PSG or Inter I but we’ve still got lots to learn, I’ve never trained a horse up to this level before and he’s just blown us away with how good he’s been.’
The pair, who trains with Conrad Schumacher, has been together for seven years, however it wasn’t always plain sailing.
‘He was so naughty, he was just outrageous and a total shocker – but you’d never know it now. You couldn’t ride him down to the outdoor school, we went through the muck heap I don’t know how many times, we’d have to be led if ever we wanted to hack. We’re great now, it’s much, much better but it did take a while.’
Competing in a snaffle; ‘I’ve been trying the double but he doesn’t go quite as well and I’m not the most confident. My trainer despairs but we both just go better with a snaffle,’ Ann explained, they’ve had a great first season at Big Tour having both Inter II and Grand Prix tests under their belt, and are hoping to hit the Premier Leagues at Big Tour later this year.
Spillers Medium Gold Freestyle Championship
Charlie Sawyer and Chico Too can now boast the complete set of Spillers Medium Freestyle titles after today’s win in the Gold section with an impressive 74.67%. The awesome twosome claimed last year’s Spillers Medium Silver Freestyle Championship last year with an equally solid score (72.56%), proving that they’re quite the unstoppable combination.
Overall I thought the test was very good, I always find he’s a lot better in the freestyle – I think it’s because I feel there’s less pressure and you can highlight their strong points, like his canter work he has very good simple changes so we do two of those each way. His trot has always his weakest pace but that’s really improving.'
With this win marking their sixth, Charlie and Chico have fought hard to work their way to the top. Originally bought as a hack for Charlie’s mum Sarah, Chico has battled arthritis of the facet joint, kissing spine and shivers but a lengthy rehabilitation and great management programme has meant that he’s flourished with the Sawyers. ‘It took us two and a half years and even now he’s still on a permanent rehab programme, which is basically schooling once or twice a week, he’s got to jump and do lots of pole work, work in the Pessoa and lots of hacking – so he’s basically got the training programme of an eventer!’
Next for Charlie and Chico is Advanced Medium and beyond, although his mum Sarah was quick to follow with ‘[Chico] will go as far as he wants to – there’s no pressure, he’ll tell us when to stop and we’ll always listen.’
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold
It was always looking likely that Charlotte may walk away with the top three rosettes, but even the lady herself wasn’t too sure who would come out on top, “To be honest I never know how they’re gonna finish up!” Today, it was River Rise Nisa who took the honours with 75.83%, a seven-year-old Negro-sired mare known as Nancy at home, co-owned by Charlotte and breeder Sarah Tyler-Evans.
“Nancy, bless her, she’s always been the one that’s second or third, always being the bridesmaid! I’ve been pleading that she has to have a win! She’s probably the greenest of them all, this morning I went to do the arena walk and she was a bit overwhelmed, so I wasn’t really sure how today was going to be, but she went back in there this afternoon and wasn’t even bothered so I was really happy with her test.”
Charlotte’s top three are all relatively inexperienced at this level though it of course didn’t show in the arena, “She’s got better and better each time I compete her, last year she came here and did the Novice and now she’s moved up to Advanced Medium. She’s a horse I saw as a three-year-old and I loved her from the first time I saw her. It’s great to work with Sarah as she’s bred some fantastic horses, she’s gonna keep breeding and I’m going to keep riding!”
Runner up today was the very popular Gio with 73.29%, “I was so happy with Pumpkin! That was the first time he will have gone in an arena and experienced anything like that, it was a mistake-free test, all he’s got to work on now is the extensions and he’ll catch up with the others.”
In third with 73.16% was the eye-catching mare Mount St John VIP, “I felt like it was very smooth, she’s like clockwork when you take her in the arena, she’s so much fun to ride! She doesn’t feel like she’s seven, I ride her like an older horse because mentally she’s so there.”
Excitingly this trio of gorgeous seven-year olds mean that Charlotte will potentially have three fantastic Grand Prix horses at the same time a few years down the line, “I honestly have the best string of horses I’ve ever had!”
Petplan Equine Area Festival Elementary Under 18
Thirteen-year-old Emilia Nelson, from Beenham in Berkshire, was thrilled to win the Petplan Equine Area Festival Elementary inaugural Under 18 section with Sarah Steggell’s WFS Top Red. They achieved the top score of 69.12% in a very competitive class, runners up, 11-year-old Myles Graham and Heavenly High Jinks, were only a mark behind on 69.02%.
The combination had little preparation for the championships as Emilia has recently been in France with her school, Downe House in Berkshire, but this didn’t show in their accomplished test. “He was great, he was a really good boy, I’ve been in France for a term so I’ve ridden him for two weeks when I got back and then we came here, so there wasn’t much preparation! Our aim was to come here and get a clear round and see how it goes so we weren’t expecting anything, I’m so proud of him!”
British-bred, Sports Pony Studbook Society (SPSS) passported, WFS Top Red (Top Yellow x Pilgrims Red) was a licensed stallion and Champion at the Young Dressage Pony Championships in 2012. However, the pony has since been gelded due to behavioural problems, “I was asked to ride him a year ago, he was a stallion but we cut him in the spring because he went bonkers! It took him ages to get over that so it’s only been about 5 months I’ve really been riding him.”
The future now looks bright for the champions with another ride at the championships in the Petplan Equine Area Festival Medium Under 18 class, “I’m doing the medium tomorrow and I’m on the Progress Pony squad so we’ll be going out to some Premier Leagues and hopefully be picked for an international by the end of the year.” You can catch the combination tomorrow in Petplan Equine Arena 1 at 13:49 – they’re sure to be ones to watch for another title!
Petplan Equine Preliminary Silver
Amy Daye enjoyed a royal win in the Petplan Equine Preliminary Silver Championship aboard her seven-year-old gelding Prince William MBS. Under sunny skies at Hartpury, Amy and the good-looking son of Wish Upon Star posted a fabulous winning score of 72.85%.
“I’m over the moon with him,” beamed Amy after the presentation in the NAF Five Star Arena. “He was totally amazing and I was so happy with every part of our test. And the final centre line was our best ever!”
“We competed in the KBIS Preliminary Silver Championship this morning too, but it didn’t go quite so well, so when I came out this afternoon for the Petplan class I rode every single step. I really can’t believe it and it’s been such a good experience,” she enthused.
Amy bought William when he was three months old and has brought him on with the help of Vikki Pengilly. The road to success has not been plain sailing for the duo as William has suffered with allergies and hypersensitivity which has resulted in sinusitis and it can affect his lungs when he’s having an episode.
“We’ve scraped together every penny to keep him fit and competing,” says Amy who gave up a well-paid job to focus on her riding. She now combines working as a distributor for Forever Living and working for trainer Vikki in return for lessons. “Vikki has helped me massively.”