Paras impress at Equissage Pulse Bronze & Silver Championships
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Solihull Equestrian Centre put on two days of exciting competition (04 – 05 September 2021), culminating in Bronze and Silver Championships on the final day. This was the bronze and silver riders’ chance to shine – and shine they did.
Grade III’s Zoe Squirrell and Wonnacott (pictured above) followed up their success at Bishop Burton CPEDI with the highest score of the championships - 69.93%. This involved her and her parents getting up at 4.30 am to drive her from Dorset to Hampshire, where her horse ‘Biscuit’ lives with his owner Alice Pearce, for the drive in the lorry to Solihull.
Biscuit is an 18-year-old bay gelding by Sir Sinclair and Zoe has ridden him since February 2020. “I am chuffed for his owner Alice as she puts so much work into him to make him as good as he is,” said Zoe. She lives a six-hour public transport round trip from Biscuit and so will normally ride only twice a week. “His test was quite flowing and lots of the bits of training we’ve been working on since the international came off.”
Solihull was Zoe’s first competition with a caller although she has been classified as visually impaired for some time. “Having a caller greatly improved my accuracy as I can focus on my riding. Riding in the warm-up with a headset, I was able to ride normally rather than back-off because of my lack of vision.”
Jason Inchley and Rubin Ryella (pictured above) had the second highest score of the Championship, 69.27% and took the Grade II Silver title. Jason has had the 11-year-old by Royal Edition for three years and she was previously successfully competed by Mark Cunliffe and Harriet Dance.
Jason got hooked on para dressage after watching the 2012 London Olympics and started his dressage career with a borrowed horse from Mark and Becky Cunliffe’s Lakefield Equestrian.
“She was excellent this weekend and I couldn’t be prouder of her,” said Jason. “With Mark I’ve been working on getting her to engage her hind legs and she is building more muscle.” As Jason works full-time as a dental hygienist, Mark exercises her when he can’t ride. He started a new job the day after the Championships – hope it’s going well!
The Grade V Bronze winner was Sarah Oram with her 15hh section D, Tamrik Captain Jack Sparrow (pictured above). He was bought from the Tamrik Stud as a yearling 13 years ago, after a torn eyelid meant he wouldn’t be suitable for showing.
As an able-bodied rider, Sarah took Jack up to Advanced Medium until surgery for calcific tendonitis damaged the femoral nerve in her leg. “One leg doesn’t do a lot, so it’s been quite a journey,” said Sarah who was graded for para dressage in 2019. “I didn’t think Jack would be as competitive as he is and the judges seem to really like him. I nearly withdrew from the Bronze Championship as he was really bothered by the flies – we live on a farm on the Downs where there are no flies. He was an exceptionally angry dragon! I’ve seen the video and it looks a lot better than it felt!”
“I’ve trained with Alison Short for 10 years and I wouldn’t be at the Championships without her. She makes you focus on what you can do.”
Julie Frizzell’s winner Namibian (pictured above) was already famous before winning his Grade V Silver Championship. The Thoroughbred had a distinguished racing career before being rehomed to Julie by the Godolphin Rehoming Centre. Namibian (now known as ‘Barney’ at home) won the classic Queen’s Vase at Ascot in 2011 for trainer Mark Johnson and over his four-year career won over £69,000.
Retiring BD para director Julie took on Barney, who is now 13, after his racing career ended. She has transformed him from racing star to dressage star with wins at the Winter Para Dressage Championships 2019, 2020 and 2021 and the Equissage Pulse Festival of Para Dressage 2020, as well as winning at Medium Silver at the Thoroughbred Associated Championships and RoR Associated Championships in 2019. It was Julie’s goal to add a summer title to that impressive roster.
“It was a really hot class,” said Julie. “I’m grateful for the help I’ve had from [British Paralympian] Sophie Wells. I aim for relaxation and power is a bonus. We got over 70% from two judges and there were some nines – I’m gobsmacked! It feels like the start of a new chapter where his strength is beginning to be controllable. I’m so fortunate to have been entrusted with him.”
Cornwall-based Neve McLennan had her first para competition on Stefania II (pictured above) in August last year and began by winning the 2020 Equissage Pulse Festival of Dressage Grade IV Bronze Championship. Like Jason she is based at Lakefield Equestrian and trains with Mark Cunliffe. With a score of 67.83% she was two per cent ahead of her nearest rival. Stefania is Lakefield’s 18-year-old grey Romanian cob mare who is also ridden by Claire Tregaskis.
Neve has been riding since before she could walk and started para dressage when she went blind at 16. It has been one of her ambitions to compete at the Winter Championships – so job well done!
Jasmine Jackson’s Grade II Bronze winner, Dancer VII (pictured above), may be 22 years old but doesn’t look her age at all. The pair started competing together in 2018 and this is their first Championship win.
“She’s very confident in the arena which gives me more confidence. She really enjoys herself,” said Jasmine. The pair will shortly begin training with Anna Miller, trainer of British Paralympian Sophie Christiansen who, like Jasmine, has cerebral palsy.
Tegan Vincent-Cooke and Trigger Park (pictured above) started their para dressage career in April and already have five out of five wins at Grade I Bronze and Silver on their BD record. Trigger is a Weatherbys registered Thoroughbred by Tagula and is 10 years old.
After the Championships Tegan commented on social media: “I’m really proud of how far we’ve come! There’s always something to improve on but we were really pleased with our last performance, we got through it as a pair and had some really beautiful moments!”
Sara Bates and Parsley II (pictured above) were Grade IV Silver Champions with a score of 67.46%. Parsley is homebred by North Col and at 20 years old, this was her last competitive outing. What a way to go out!
Sara commented on social media: “It’s was my last time competing in Silver and to win on my beautiful homebred was very special.”
Sara will be competing in the Equissage Pulse Gold Para Championships as she has received a wild card for her horse Tango VII.
Grade V Bronze
1. Sarah Oram and Tamrik Captain Jack Sparrow, 68.72%
=2. Daniel Bates and Zion, 68.48%
=2. Chloe Chadwick and Innocent Flight, 68.48%
Grade V Silver
1. Julie Frizzell and Namibian, 68.79%
2. Joanne Dagley-Cleworth and Uptamistic, 67.85%
3. Sarah Oram and Tamrik Captain Jack Sparrow, 65.49%
Grade IV Bronze
1. Neve McLennan and Stefania, 67.83%
2. Georgina Maton and Despereaux, 65.75%
3. Isabella Benfield and Cookies and Cream II, 65.83%
Grade IV Silver
1. Sara Bates and Parsley II, 67.46%
2. Laura Scott and Winged Action, 64.59%
3. Neve McLennan and Stefania, 65.34%
Grade III Silver
1. Zoe Squirrell and Wonnacott, 69.93%
2. Sharon Kelsall and GDH Summer Hit, 65.73%
3. Vicky Nurcombe and Celano V, 65.4%%
Grade II Bronze
1. Jasmine Jackson and Dancer VII, 66.95%
2. Lily Hughes and Nikita, 65.19%
Grade II Silver
1. Jason Inchley and Rubin Ryella, 69.27%
2. Lily Hughes and Nikita, 64.85%
Grade I Bronze
1. Tegan Vincent-Cooke and Trigger Park, 66.33%
Photo © Top Shots Photography