Nettex Lusitano Associated Championship
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The Nettex Lusitano Associated Championship gave this beautiful Portuguese breed the chance to step into the spotlight at Keysoe on 29 September. The breed is famous for its flamboyance and talent for dressage.
Nika Vorster rides both PREs and Lusitanos in her job as rider at Premier PRE Dressage in Oxfordshire but it was the handsome grey Lusitano Curioso (pictured at the MCI Finals) that won her two titles at Keysoe, taking the winner’s sash in the Medium and Advanced Medium classes. Curioso had the highest score of the day of 70.81% in the Medium.
Nika has been riding Louisa Collins’ 11-year-old for three years and recently they won the Medium Bronze at Sparsholt's Petplan Equine Area Festival Final. They also competed at Elementary and Medium at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Finals 2018 and were part of the silver medal winning British team at the MCI Dressage Masters European final.
“He’s a very sensitive chap and relies on me to give him confidence,” said Nika. “Three years ago we were doing Novice classes and now he’s competing up to Advanced, so patience pays off.”
“He was a little bit tense to start in the Medium but then started to come better in the second half of the test. He was much more relaxed in the Advanced Medium. Doing two tests was a big ask for him as he likes to do one and then go home!”
Nika keeps Curioso sweet with a varied work programme and only schools him twice a week. He jumps, does groundwork and goes for hacks.
Jess Ashwell and Sueste II, a stunning dark bay stallion, had the second highest score of the day, to win the Novice champion title. She was also reserve champion in the Elementary class at her first year at the level.
Jess and Sueste were Preliminary Champions in 2016. The 19-year-old Sueste has had a varied career which includes being a member of the GB working equitation team competing all around Europe, showjumping and hunting. Jess has owned him for two-and-a-half years. “We only affiliated two years ago,” explained Jess. “He felt seriously up for it and I was nicely surprised by the score.”
Nicky Thayer beat Sueste to take the Elementary title on Estribo with 66.88%. She has been competing Estribo in affiliated dressage since March 2016. This year they took 12th place at Elementary Silver at Wellington and Crofton Manor Area Festivals. They also placed second at Elementary in both straight and freestyle classes at the Iberian Performance Show.
Nicky admitted that the bull-fighting bred nine-year-old has not been easy to train. She bought him unbacked and it took a year before he could be ridden. “We’ve been eliminated so many times in tests as he gets half way through the tests and then starts to object,” said Nicky. “I think it made a huge difference that I came on Friday and did all the arena walks. For once everything came together.”
Veteran stallion, 20-year-old San Rafael wasn’t showing his age at all when he scooped the prestigious Prix St Georges Championship for owner Emma Pewter. This is the second sash for Rafael who was the Advanced Medium Champion in 2017.They also won an Advanced Medium title at the Veteran Horse Championships.
Emma, who is programme manager for the College of West Anglia in Cambridge, is a BD judge and keen competitor. The pair have been part of the Eastern region team at the Home International and she trains with Mark Ruddock and John Bowen. They also represented Great Britain at the MCI Dressage Masters European Final.
Emma has owned Rafael for five years and keeps him fit with lots of hacking and trotting over poles. Emma’s husband Gary, an ex-jump jockey also helps out with the hacking “I’ve thought of retiring him but he is still very fit and supple,” she said. “We don’t do much over the winter and if he still feels good in Spring, we’ll carry on.”
“I was thrilled with him. We had one mistake in the final halt but he felt really good and sat well in his canter pirouettes,” said Emma.
The Prelim title was especially sweet for Helen Delgaudio who has had a lot of lameness issues with Esporao and at one time she thought the nine-year-old would have to be retired or put to sleep. Fortunately a new farrier shod him differently and he is now out competing again.
“He’s a cheeky chappy,” said Helen, who imported him three years ago. “He was a bit distracted as he’s not been to Keysoe before but he’s a bit of a showman who rises to the occasion.”
Esporao was also reserve champion in the Novice class.
Congratulations to all the riders who took part. British Dressage thanks the team at Keysoe for a successful Championship event as well as title sponsor Nettex for their generous support of the Associated Championship series.
Helen Delgaudio and Esporao, 68.54%
Jessica Ashwell and Sueste II, 69.04%
Nicky Thayer and Estribo, 66.88%
Nika Vorster and Curioso, 70.81%
Nika Vorster and Curioso, 68.22%
Prix St Georges
Emma Pewter and San Rafael, 65.66%