NAF Five Star Winter Championships: Day Six
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What a 'Super Saturday' it turned into with five cracking Petplan Equine Area Festival Championship titles up for grabs on the penultimate day of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships.
Petplan Equine Novice U21
Winners: Louise Gallavan & Sandros Fire, 70.55%
Louise Gallavan and Sandros Fire oozed quality in the Petplan Equine Novice Under 21 Area Festival Championships; in front of judges Andrea Smith, Carole Thornton and Helen Clark, the duo were awarded 70.55% to claim the win ahead of Erin George and Diamond Rombeartino in second, with class pathfinder Madeleine Hinchcliffe and Fiorendo making their early performance count for third.
Buckinghamshire based Louise was delighted when she heard her winning score, “I was a bit shocked, he went really well but he had a little spook at the photographer too – I didn’t know how it would work out with the scores in the end!” She continued, “Everything else was really good, I’m so happy with him and looking forward to what’s coming next.”
Louise praised the general way of going of her super six year old Hanoverian by Sarotti Mokka Sahn, “Throughout the test he went very consistently and he feels super solid in his work – I had to focus on keeping him going forwards as he’s working at a higher level now so is thinking more about collection. He was a good boy and was really listening.”
“He came to be as a just backed four year old,” Louise told us of the chestnut talent, “he’s not the most straight forward ride, he can be quite opinionated and will tell you if he’s doesn’t like something! But he’s so talented, it makes it really worthwhile when you get him onside.”
Hartpury is familiar ground to Louise who successfully completed a BSc (Hons) Equestrian Sports Science here alongside riding, training and earning a qualification as a sports massage therapist. Her career to date has blossomed following her first trip to a National Championships aged 15, and she’s since enjoyed time gaining experience on several international and professional dressage yards.
Louise trains with David Trott regularly and is looking forward to focusing on moving up the levels with the long term aim of making it to Grand Prix with her talented gelding, “we’ll take each day as it comes as horses can be horses, but I’m enjoying our journey together and love every day with him.”
Congratulations to all placed riders in this competitive Under 21 section.
Petplan Equine Prelim Bronze
Winners: Sharon Scarlett & Louis VIII, 70.97%
A 2.00am start proved worthwhile for Petplan Equine Preliminary Bronze winner Sharon Scarlett, who defied not only an early morning and long journey but also a rocky past with her champion ride Louis VIII. Sharon and Louis claimed an emotional victory to see hard work pay off as the sole combination to top the 70%.
The charming 11 year old piebald pulled out all the stops for his proud owner/rider Louise today, “I’m very pleased! He’s nervous of new venues and to get through with no spooking or leaping was my aim, never to win. He was so obedient in there, he’s such a trier.”
In a true story of triumph over adversity, it’s been a journey of nothing but dedication and hard work for Sharon who bought Louis from a Gypsy Cob dealer in Norfolk: “I tried to send him back the day after he arrived as he was such a nutcase but the woman wouldn’t answer my calls! So I was stuck with him and just kept working with him. I’ve tried to sell him a few times but he’s never been ready!”
“He won’t jump at all so he got me on the dressage route,” Sharon told us of her introduction to British Dressage and affiliated competition, “My instructor Abbie Hipgrave suggested trying to qualify for the Petplan Equine Area Festivals so we gave it ago. This is the biggest thing we’ve ever done, I’ve never experienced a Championships before!”
Sharon generously dedicated a large proportion of her wonderful success today to trainer Abbie, “I’ve threatened to sell him [Louis] so many times but he tries so hard for me. This really is thanks to Abbie, without her help, I wouldn’t be here. She pushes me all the way.”
Hailing from Basildon in Essex, Sharon (51) balances riding with her role in the NHS as a nurse in the Cardio Thorasic Department at Basildon University Hospital, “I’ve ridden all my life but never competed, I’m a bit of a late starter! I keep Louis at a normal, basic yard with just a small ménage, he lives out 24/7 and we just make do.”
“We were up at 2am this morning, left at 3:30am and travelled in a single horse trailer,” Sharon told us of her experience in making it to the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, “I was so nervous and wasn’t going to come but everyone said I had to! It’s all been worthwhile though; if I can do it at 51, anyone can!”
Second place in an immensely hot class belonged to Rebecca Lock with the British Driving Society registered piebald Brickwell Mr Pickwick scoring a creditable 69.58%, with Eloise Jenkins and her own skewbald Life of Riley just two marks behind to complete a proud, and colourful, podium.
Petplan Equine Intermediate I Bronze
Winners: Caitlin Burgess & Chocotof, 73.28%
The Petplan Equine Inter I Bronze was a convincing win for young rising star Caitlin Burgess (19) and her talented but quirky partner Chocotof, the victory being a welcome boost to their blossoming partnership as they build towards representing their country at Championship level.
The first combination to go, Elijah Lovell and David Pincus’ Donna of Sheepcote, set the early pace with 66.22% which proved a difficult score to better. It was the second last pairing to go which tipped balance with a polished performance in only their fifth test at this level to score 73.28%.
Caitlin said; “He was super! I messed a few things up but he was absolutely super, he just felt amazing. I was really pleased with how he came out today as he’s really not completely secure at this level yet.”
Caitlin and ‘Stan’ are just starting their journey at the upper youth levels having made their International debut last year in the Junior division at Keysoe CDI. In March this year, they moved up a level and had a great time at Keysoe CDI before lockdown hit at her first international in the Young Rider ranks with a collection of podium placings, including a win in the Freestyle.
Caitlin had the perfect grounding having spent two years at Talland and is now based with Henriette Andersen and Ulrik Molgaard, of which she says; “it’s amazing to be based on a yard like that surrounded by amazing horses.”
Her Lord Leatherdale x Negro 13 year old partner isn’t straightforward; “Stan is the biggest personality, he’s so happy and he loves his job…but he also likes to go up in the air and show his acrobatic skills too!” But Caitlin has her eyes firmly on the future with clear goals in place; “We’re aiming for the FEI Young Rider European Championships next year, and maybe going on to Under 25s Grand Prix. We used lockdown to start training the harder movements and he’s showing lots of exciting promise.”
Elijah and the British bred Don Schufro mare Donna of Sheepcote held on to second spot and in third place was Katherine Heslop and Spudley on 65.13%.
Petplan Equine Elementary U21
Winner: Rose Foley & Cordici K, 71.42%
After finishing a close second in yesterday’s Petplan Equine Medium U21 class, it was time for young star Rose Foley to step onto the top spot of the winner’s podium today as she scored 71.42% to become a unanimous champion with Cordici K in the Petplan Equine Elementary U21 Area Festival Championships.
Scotland based Rose has enjoyed a brilliant week on board Shona Leckie’s Cordici K, known in the stable as ‘Gucci’. “He was really relaxed and with me,” Rose told us in her prize giving, “He can take over a bit in a test but we’ve been here since Sunday and he’s got better and better throughout the week. Today he was calm and listened.”
“It’s always been my dream to get to Hartpury!” Rose continued, “I can’t thank Shona enough for letting me ride him! He’s such a cheeky but lovely character who’s great to have on the yard.”
The duo hope to make their CDI debut next year in the FEI Pony category with Rose having one year left in the age group. The Kirkcudbright Academy student is preparing to do her GCSEs next year, “I’ve had a week back at school and then a week off to come here, school are very supportive!”
In front of the watchful eyes of the judges panel, Claire Ballantyne, Alison Duck and Helen Clarke, Alanna Clarke and Van Halen II rode for 69.11% and second, whilst Emma Mounfield claimed third with Colin III.
Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Bronze
Winners: Samantha Turpitt & Bali Dancer, 69.96%
IT project manager Samantha Turpitt realised a dream today in claiming the final title on offer today, the Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Bronze. Riding her own Barclay x Del Pero chestnut mare Bali Dancer she went one better than Thursday when the duo finished in runners up spot in the Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver championship.
It was a nervy start as Bali Dancer isn’t the most straightforward of rides and the nine year old looked on her toes. Sam nursed her through the first centreline and then set sail on a fluid first medium trot diagonal and they were away. The final halt and salute brought a beaming smile to the Aberdeenshire rider’s face, but what was the score?
The booming voice over the tannoy revealed 69.96%, enough to take over the lead from long time leaders Kathy Babb and Oculto’s Hope who set the target of 68.84% when first to go. There were just three combinations left to go and the biggest threat was young Kent rider Chelsea Tolhurst who’s having an amazing Winters having been first in the Equi-Trek Elementary Silver and second in the Theraplate Medium Silver.
A third podium placing was on Chelsea’s mind with Hermitage de Jeu and the duo rode a really polished test with the horse not feeling any fatigue from his week’s work. Their score was given as 68.59%, enough for third and another visit to the prize giving.
“As we trotted up the centreline she felt like she was going to explode so I sat quietly and nursed her but we came round and flew down the diagonal in medium trot, which is a party piece of hers, which set us up so I thought ‘right, let’s nail the rest’. It was definitely a ‘fragile’ start but the futher the test went, the less fragile she felt. The changes were clean but a bit green and even the walk pirouettes felt good,” said Sam.
Sam bought Bali Dancer for a small price in dressage terms as a project horse and she’s been a challenging horse to produce coupled with the fact that she has limited facilities at home and has to travel for the use of a school. More recently, she’s had to manage a bout of laminitis too.
“It takes a bit of luck on the day but today I feel like the luckiest person alive!” beamed Sam, still in shock at her result. “I keep thinking ‘has this really happened, is it a dream and I’ll wake up soon’. After Thursday I had so many messages of support and it makes all the hardship, ups and downs, financial hardship and challenges worth it. It’s easy to feel that you just can’t keep up with it all, but I just keep telling myself to work a bit harder. What a whirlwind week it’s been!
Photos: © Kevin Sparrow