NAF Five Star Winter Championships: day four
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With Hackneys, Friesians, and many Native ponies enjoying wins and placings this week, the NAF Five Star Winter Championships have been a great celebration of the huge variation of breeds making waves in the dressage world.
Gill Peckham and the part-bred Hackney stallion Hero (Huroos) continued the theme as they became triumphant winners of the 10th anniversary KBIS Preliminary Silver title. A high standard class was tough fought but after the Maidenhead based duo took an early lead from second in at 7.57 in the morning, a hot field couldn’t quite top their winning score of 71.83%.
“I’ve only ever done one Regional Championship before, I’m just an amateur rider and it’s completely amazing!” Gill commented following her debut prize giving, “I just had no idea how he would react, I think I was lucky to have early draw before it got too busy in there but he just behaved so well. I tried really hard to be accurate today…I’ve got a habit of not being accurate! But Hero focused straight away and got on with the job, he did everything I asked.”
Gill came across her star ride following a recommendation from long term trainer and friend Katharine Lewis, our winner of Wednesday’s Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold on board the Friesian stallion Jos K. “I couldn’t find an established dressage horse for reasonable money so Katharine said come on Gill we’ll get you a driving horse!” Gill fell in love with the newly backed Hero the first time she saw a video, “Katherine told me not to get excited from just a video but we went and sat on him and both fell in love with him!”
In their short time together, Gill won an unaffiliated championship before going on to register with BD, qualify for the Winter Regionals and win her first title attempt at Merrist Wood. Speaking about her Championship hopes she added, “I had hoped to get into the top ten but it really was a hope and not an expectation. He’s a live wire and I didn’t know what he was going to do – really I just didn’t want to make a fool of myself! But he behaved and he’s just so consistent, he’s always around these scores but you always expect to score less at national level. It was a very long wait after getting my score!”
Commenting on a successful ten years of sponsorship, KBIS owner Liz Prest said, “We’ve had a very good ten years with British Dressage and it’s been lovely watching it develop. There was a very wide variety of tests today, and Gill was a very worthy winner. It’s such a great story, a horse that’s gone from driving to winning at the Winter Championships in just a year – a super way to celebrate.”
Petplan Equine Inter II Silver
Izzy Chaplin and Coral Ingham’s Vincente II have already enjoyed a placing this week in the Petplan Equine Intermediate I Bronze Area Festival Championship and today went one better with a win in the Intermediate II Silver Championship. The panel of Peter Storr, Debbie Jones and Claudia Thaller rewarded 64.43% for their efforts in the highest grade test of the Area Festival Championships.
The partnership have enjoyed great results in their three years together and appeared at the Championships last year as part of the Hickstead Young Rider Quadrille display team. Speaking about her test on board the Gribaldi sired stallion, Izzy said “I’m over the moon! I wasn’t expecting to win today at all, I was just hoping for a clear round. I really can’t believe it.”
“We’ve always struggled with the changes but we got them today, and his piaffe felt amazing,” Izzy continued, “We’ve had a pretty chilled preparation and we’ve been working with my trainer Sarah Millis on our weak points in the test.”
Izzy and Vincente only rode their first Inter II eight month ago – on her birthday of all days – and made their debut at Grand Prix just before Christmas. The full-time accountant is hoping to contest the Under 25s Grand Prix classes throughout the rest of the year.
“He’s just a big Labrador,” she smiled about her winning ride, “We’ve risen up the ranks together and he’s really a very sweet horse.”
It was a pleasant surprise for the family to taste success at Hartpury, as at one stage, it was looking unlikely that they’d be able to make it. David Crockford, partner of trainer Sarah, came to the rescue of Izzy and her mother Karen to transport Vincente to Hartpury, as the family are currently waiting patiently for one of their broodmares to foal, at two and a half weeks late it’s touch and go with a non-horsey dad left at home to hold the fort!
Petplan Equine Elementary U21 Area Festival
Bicester-based Gracie Catling (15), one of the busiest riders at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships with an incredible seven tests to ride over the five days, has celebrated victory this afternoon in the Petplan Equine Elementary U21 Area Festival Championship.
Riding Helen Christie’s Silvano KR (by Wolfgang), an attractive KWPN gelding who belies his 20 years, she claimed the Petplan Equine Elementary U21 Area Festival Championships with a score of 69.70%. “I’m really surprised and extremely happy that he did so well,” said Gracie after the prize-giving. “Especially considering he’s not as elastic as the other horses and quite small too. Where he gains though is that his transitions are very good, and he’s just so harmonious.”
Silvano, who is known as ‘Saman’ was gifted to owner Helen Christie three ago, and Gracie has ridden him for one year so far. “He had done a lot but not particularly successfully, and he’d suffered with allergies and hives too. I competed him for a couple of years,” said owner Helen, “we did quite well but he always had a tendency to shut down in the arena. So I decided to hand him to a younger rider who has the talent to motivate him.”
Gracie, who trains with her mum Julia, a List 4 judge, is a tactful young rider who Saman enjoys working for. “He can be quite crafty, and he can shut down. I just have to make sure I don’t let him get away with anything, and keep him on the aids.
Expressing just what this victory means to her, Gracie said; “I’ve been here for four years, and have been watching the prize-givings all this time. I’m so glad it’s me this time!”
Second place went to Rebecca Parsonage with Wacton Billy (68.23%) and Jersey Garrett and Crowhide the Talisman (68.18%) completed the top three.
Petplan Equine Area Festival U21 Preliminary
West Midlands young talent Sophia Marston may have taken a cursory glance to the sky on the completion of her Prelim test in the Petplan Equine Area Festival U21 Championship this morning to say thank you to her great grandmother. It was the sum of £4000 left to her mum Claire that bought a San Amour x Hotline yearling into their lives six years ago and today the now grown Solitaire II and Sophia are champions.
It’s been a buy day for the 13 year old as she also contested the KBIS Prelim Silver Championship where she and ‘Solly’ finished as runners up but went one better in the Petplan Equine class.
“I was really pleased with how she coped with the big atmosphere, it’s our first really big show together and I’m just so happy with her!” said Sophia.
Originally intended to be the ride for Claire, Sophia’s long legs made her the ideal jockey and they’ve been growing together as a partnership. Only last month they were reserve champions in the Ideal Saddles Prelim 70cm Combined Training Championship.
Sophia trains with Michael Eilberg and she and Solly are working at Elementary with a view to being selected to represent Great Britain in FEI Children on Horses classes.
Spillers Horse Feeds Medium Freestyle Silver
A busy week of competition which has yielded three top five placings was topped off in style when Berkshire rider Rebecca Marsden partnered her own 11 year old Fidertanz sired Fiorello to victory in the hotly contested Spillers Horse Feeds Medium Freestyle Silver.
Rebecca combines competing as a hobby with her role as a full time lawyer for American IT giant Hewlett Packard and swapped disciplines from eventing to dressage about two years ago.
“I train with Matt Hicks and he helped with my eventers but when I took up dressage I bought Fiorello from him and that was nearly a year ago to the day,” explained Rebecca.
Working full time, she has a great family support network; “I’m very lucky to be based with her mum and dad just outside Newbury who are so supportive of me, along with husband Charlie.”
She was also quick to extoll the virtues of her dancing partner; “He has an amazing hind leg, is well balanced and very polite! I’d also say he’s clever and with a bit of sass. And I must say, he’s very affectionate and gives great hugs!
This is her debut at the Winters and she’s currently training towards competing in Prix St Georges by the end of the year. She’s also has the ride schoolmaster El Zorro from Matt to help her gain experience with the more advanced movements. In 2012, the horse won this Spillers Horse Feeds title here so now there are two Medium Freestyle Champions in Rebecca’s stables tonight.
Petplan Equine Prelim Silver Area Festival Championship
West Country rider Katy Sawyer clinched the win in the epic Petplan Equine Prelim Silver Championship, a class that’s lasted almost the whole day with 42 starters. Riding her own gorgeous grey Greatest Time, who’s Dutch bred by Quality Time, Katy posted 74.44%.
Katy clearly wasn’t expecting the win; “I’m amazed and so pleased with him. Didn’t ever imagine we’d get here, let alone win. It’s amazing and such an honour!” she enthused.
Katy, who works part time as a baker and does some freelance grooming and riding, bought ‘Simba’ as an unbroken five year old and they just got going but sadly he went lame. The result was a stifle operation but he’s recovered well and the duo even managed to get some eventing in last season in BE 90 and 100.
Somerset based Katy has been working hard on his trot work and to get more expression into his paces with trainer Virginia Peters which is clearly paying off. They also did their first Novice last week successfully.
Affectionate Simba is clearly treasured at home; “He’s the yard favourite – so friendly and anyone can do anything to him; he’s just a lovely horse,” smiled Katy.
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold
As Tiger Roll took an emphatic second victory in the Randox Health Grand National, Dannie Morgan and the impressive Knoxx’s Figaro (Jazz x Krack C) notched up another national title of their own in the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold.
The talented gelding, owned by Lisa Morgan and David Knoxx, scored an immense 73.46% to win by no less than three percent. Proud rider Dannie Morgan was elated after his prize giving, “this is the biggest win of my career so far!”
For Dannie the win was another emotional marker of immense progress with a horse who’s been on quite a journey. “He’s an amazingly talented horse; last year was our first year together and he’s grown so much in confidence and strength. I was really pleased to be able to show that progress today!”
Dannie thanked trainer Nicky Barrett for her help in producing his champion ride, “Nicky has helped develop him enormously, she knows him really well as she’s trained him from a young horse.” The duo have worked wonders over their year together with the naturally nervous ‘Fig’ who Dannie admits that “it would do him good to man-up a bit”.
It’s been a tough road to the Winters for a key part of team Fig as owner Lisa unfortunately broke her back in multiple places in December. Dannie said, “coming here has been a huge motivation for Lisa, she’s been through a lot of rehab. It’s great for her to be able to be here, it’s going to be a long road.”
Second place in the hot class went to Judy Harvey with the lovely Palimera (Polytraum x Rockwell), whilst Damian Hallam and Romir Elton took third.