Para power on show at Myerscough
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Myerscough International Arena hosted the Equissage Pulse Para Winter Dressage Championships (23 – 24 May 2021) for the fifth year with riders from all over the country making the journey to the Lancashire venue.
One of the furthest travelled was Claire Tregaskis whose major road trip from Cornwall resulted in wins in both the Grade 1 Bronze Championship and Grade 1 Novice Silver Championship with Lakefield Equestrian Centre’s 18-year-old mare Stefania II (pictured above), who also placed in the Grade 4 Bronze with Neve McLennan.
Claire, who has cerebral palsy, rides at Lakefield Equestrian Centre and trains with owner Mark Cunliffe, began her equestrian journey five years ago.
“I was completely terrified when I started,” she admitted. “I never expected we’d get this far, I did a couple of RDA competitions and asked to do a para one just so I could say I’d done it and it went better than I could have ever anticipated,” she added. “People say this mare is difficult but she takes care of me the whole time. I can’t trot and canter and in the collecting ring it can be a bit OMG when the others are cantering but she just keeps plodding round making sure I’m fine.
“The only time I truly relax is when I’m riding, I forget everything else when I’m on her and I am so delighted with how it went. I keep reliving it and thinking my goodness we really did do that and my sister drove me up so it was a proper girly trip!”
Ashleigh-Rose Turner and Soensmindes Sylvester (pictured above) won the Grade 2 Silver and Bronze championships. The 12-year-old Danish bred by Spinoza was sourced in Denmark by Mette Assouline four years ago for Ashleigh-Rose who was a show jumper at heart until a car accident in 2013.
“I had to learn to walk and talk again,” explained Ashleigh-Rose. “It was the hardest bit of the journey but I wouldn’t be where I am now, I never knew dressage could be so much fun.
“Sylvester is my horse of a lifetime, it takes a special horse to have that connection with, when I lose my balance he’s there to catch me and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Laura Gulliver rode the Woodcroft Stud’s Woodcroft Garuda K (pictured above) to a win in the Grade 4 Gold. Laura has had the ride on the 20-year-old for over two years now after the stud was looking for an easier life for the Grand Prix stallion.
“He’s taken to the para way of life really well,” said Laura who trains with Judy Harvey. “I came to dressage via showing and then got diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I think the showing was a fantastic grounding, you need to ‘own’ the ring showing and it’s no different in a dressage arena. I’m so lucky to have Garuda, it’s just a question of hitting the right buttons - the trouble is he has so many!”
Sir Lee Pearson and his homebred Breezer III (pictured above) duly won the Grade 2 Gold with 75.39%. The 10-year-old gelding is by Bacardi, a Breitling /Waikiki colt that Lee had but which didn’t quite make the height, out of Sedonja L, so a half-brother to Styletta who Lee also competed in para classes but is now concentrating on able-bodied classes.
“I know ‘fools breed horses for wise men to buy’, but I absolutely believe all horses can be trained to a decent level and Breezer III is just getting better and better as he’s got stronger,” said Lee who was delighted with the horse. “He’s really letting me in and giving so much more.”
Another Myerscough regular, Charlotte Cundall, finished first and second in the Grade 5 Gold with the Lady Joseph Trust’s LJT Simply Red and FJ Veyron.
Charlotte evented to 4* level but had two bad falls and was left with a serious amount of metal work in her back, and took a break from riding.
“I couldn’t afford to fall again so jumping was out and I decided to have a go at pure dressage,” said Charlotte who trains with Paul Hayler. “Looking back I don’t know how I ever managed to ride a decent test eventing and if someone had said I’d be a pure dressage rider I wouldn’t have believed them but now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
For Charlotte, Myerscough was a bit of a testing ground. “We’d been to Wellington and made a few errors and I wanted to put them to bed, I felt we finally delivered what he’s capable of at home and to get a mark like that from that level of judge was very satisfying, there’s nowhere to hide in those tests!”
Grade 3 Gold winner Bert Sheffield was pleased to have the chance of a warm up test with her Fairuza (pictured above).
“For all that she’s done internationally she’s not that experienced between the boards,” she said. “Every opportunity to get her in a different set of boards in a different arena is brilliant. She was a bit tense but she held it together and she’s growing up with every outing.”
Bert, who rides for Canada, obviously has Tokyo as the year’s goal. “It will be a Games like no other,” she added. “The years of planning, and then the postponement makes you truly realise its importance on a global scale and what an honour it will be for those who go, the turning point to this pandemic world.”
The Novice Grade 4 and 5 showcased the versatility of the thoroughbred as ex racehorses headed both classes. Royal Ascot winner Namibian slowed down enough to win the latter with Julie Frizzell (pictured above). The son of Cape Cross is out of Disco Volante and won over £100,000 on the flat before going through the rehoming arm of Godolphin Racing.
In the Grade 4 it was Laura Scott with former point to pointer Winged Action (above) who never troubled the judge in his first career but hails from the family of Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Jodami.
Other championship winners included Sarah Oram in the Intro Grade 5 with Tamrik Captain Jack Sparrow, Katie Reilly in the Grade 3 Novice with Hadena, and Gabriella Blake in the Grade 1 Gold with Strong Beau.
Championship classes: top-three results
Class 26: Equissage Pulse Grade 1 Bronze
1. Claire Tregaskis and Stefania II, 67.71%
Class 27: Equissage Pulse Grade 2 Bronze
1. Ashleigh-Rose Turner and Soensmindes Sylvester, 74.51%
2. Lily Hughes and Nikita, 62.65%
Class 29: Equissage Pulse Grade 4 Bronze
1. Laura Scott and Winged Action, 72.75%
2. Neve McLennan and Stefania II, 67.25%
3. Karen Dunne and Blaze VI, 60.33%
Class 30: Equissage Pulse Grade 5 Intro Bronze
1. Sarah Oram and Tamrik Captain Jack Sparrow, 65.56%
2. Julie Furber and Rastafari, 65.16%
3. Daniel Bates and Zion, 62.78%
Class 31: Equissage Pulse Grade 1 Novice Silver
1. Claire Tregaskis and Stefania II, 62.75%
2. Katherine Mannion and Ballingowan Lilly, 61.83%
Class 32: Equissage Pulse Grade 2 Novice Silver
1. Ashleigh-Rose Turner and Soensmindes Sylvester, 70.87%
2. Veronica Bower and Game Over, 66.88%
Class 33: Equissage Pulse Grade 3 Novice Silver
1. Kate Reilly and Hadena, 68.47%
2. Zoe Squirrell and Wonnacott, 67.67%
3. Isabel Slack and Mallmore Ardrahan Lad, 64.47%
Class 34: Equissage Pulse Grade 4 Novice Silver
1. Laura Scott and Koko Pop, 69.60%
2. Laura Scott and Winged Action, 69.37%
3. Sara Bates and Tango VII, 67.53%
Class 35: Equissage Pulse Grade 5 Novice Silver
1. Julie Frizzell and Namibian, 67.34%
2. Joanne Dagley-Cleworth and Uptimistic, 65.94%
3. Sarah Oram and Tamrik Captain Jack Sparrow, 63.70%
Class 36: Equissage Pulse Grade 1 Gold
1. Gabriella Blake and Strong Beau, 70.95%
2. Caitlyn Saddington and Nirvana Morroko, 62.26%
Class 37: Equissage Pulse Grade 2 Gold
1. Sir Lee Pearson and Breezer III, 75.39%
2. Jemima Green and Elrite, 72.50%
3. Anna-Mae Cole and The Gingerbread Man IV, 68.24%
Class 38: Equissage Pulse Grade 3 Gold
1. Bert Sheffield and Fairuza, 70.34%
2. Amanda Shirtcliffe and Remi II, 68.82%
3. Amanda Shirtcliffe and Hermione P, 68.14%
Class 39: Equissage Pulse Grade 4 Gold
1. Laura Gulliver and Woodcroft Garuda K, 69.83%
2. Laura Scott and Koko Pop, 68.78%
3. Sara Bates and Tango VII, 68.50%
Class 40: Equissage Pulse Grade 5 Gold
1. Charlotte Cundall and LJT Simply Red, 72.86%
2. Charlotte Cundall and FJ Veyron, 67.94%
3. Hope Hayward and Et L’Amour, 66.94%
Photo © Kevin Sparrow