Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships 22: Day four
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Prelim and Elementary champions were crowned on the final at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships and what a fitting conclusion it was to a spectacular week of competition at Arena UK.
Petplan Equine Prelim Bronze Freestyle Summer Area Festival Champion
Winner: Alice Mckinnon & Riley IV, 72.59%
We crowned first timers Alice Mckinnon and her nineteen year old gelding Riley IV champions in the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Prelim Bronze Freestyle. Riley IV also took home the highest placed veteran horse rosette. Talking about their test today in the indoor arena at Arena UK Alice said, “It was ok, I did the Riding Club National Championships last week as well and it went really well then and I came out feeling ok about it but you never know what’s going to happen. I have never competed at Petplan Area Festivals before so I was pleasantly surprised.”
Although the pair are new to Petplan they have many other titles under their belt, “I have done various things like winning the Quadrille in 2019 and I am a police officer so we attended the Blue Light Championship at Solihull last year and won that, which was show jumping and dressage.”
It was the Quadrille which inspired her to take up the freestyle Alice told us, “I like anything to music, I have done the Riding Club for a couple of years but my goal for this year was the Petplan qualifiers and then see what happened but to be honest I didn’t think I would get through those, so I am quite pleased to be here.”
Dancing their way to the top of the podium to a Lion King melody the pair impressed judges Gillian Peters (C), Joyce Wood (M), Racheal Patrick (E) to be awarded 72.59%. “It’s various bits of the film, we have ‘Circle Of Life’ and ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ and it suits him quite well,” Alice says.
“He’s nineteen years old this year,” Alice says with a smile. “I have had him for about ten years, he used to be a riding school pony at Jackie Stopler’s yard in Hampshire. He was mellowed a lot in his old age, he used to be quite sharp and took six months to break in.”
This is the pairs last competitive outing and what a way to finish that chapter together, “he is actually going to be semi-retired as I have a new four year old to bring on, she’ll be five next year so he’ll be enjoying a little bit of a quieter life, hacking, fun rides maybe a little bit of dressage and jumping.”
Laura Rose and Borough’s Doorman were our runners up also on 72.59% alongside Danielle Kaiser our highest U21 rider with Liberty USA taking third.
Petplan Equine Elementary Bronze Summer Area Festival Champion
Winner: Molly Rowan Sharples & Sheepcote Jackson, 72.30%
It was another win for the younger generation today as 21 year old Herefordshire based rider Molly-Rowan Sharples rode a top drawer test on board David Pincus’ Sheepcote Jackson to score 72.300% and deliver the Petplan Equine Elementary Bronze Summer Area Festival title.
On her performance inside the white boards today, Molly-Rowan gave plenty of credit to Jackson, “he was fab, he was lovely and forward and gave a lovely feeling. He was on my half halt, which can be a bit tricky at times, he felt nice and uphill. The circles were nice and he has a lovely medium trot!”
Bred by the Pincus’ by Johsnon and out of Sheepcote Dove (by Don Primero), Molly-Rowan was full of praise for this lovely British bred gelding, “he’s lovely, he’s a gentle horse and is lovely to have in the stable. He’s very cuddly and he’s an absolute sweetie.”
“We’ve worked together for a year and a half now,” she continued about her partnership with her winning ride, “I started riding him last April. He belongs to my boss and coach David Pincus – I'm very lucky to work for him and Serena, they’ve given me a lot of opportunities, they’re wonderful to work for.”
This marks a successful second visit to the summer edition of the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships and the next champion to add her name to the history books hopes to return again in the future, “we came last year in the Novice Bronze and we hope to be back again, possibly at Medium level.” We’ve no doubt that we’ll see this rising star again, congratulations go to the Sheepcote team and Molly-Rowan.
With 37 starters, the dual for the top spots was highly competitive, at the conclusion of a great class it would be Emily Entwistle with her own Elarieta to claim the runners up position with 69.800%, as Hannah Macmillan and Brookeborough Lad also put a great score on the board for third.
Petplan Equine Prelim Silver Freestyle Summer Area Festival Champion
Winner: Rocky Leahy & Waxwing Pocket Money, 73.70%
On a successful day for Youth riders, up and coming South & East rider Rocky Leahy made an impression to take home the Petplan Equine Prelim Silver Freestyle Area Festival Championship with Fi Grabham’s charming Welsh pony Waxwing Pocket Money.
“He’s done very well,” Rocky praised his pint-sized partner after prize giving, “he was very excited in the collecting ring – he decided he wanted to squeal like a pig and be a bit cheeky! But in the test he was really good, and he did everything he was told.”
At just 11 years of age, Rocky displayed wisdom in test riding beyond his years and told us about the tunes that went alongside his well presented performance, “we rode to You’ve got a friend in me for the trot music and some other songs that really suit his canter and walk too and how his strides go.”
The delightful Waxwing Pocket Money (Moelview Masquerade x Eyarth Beau Geste) has been a fantastic BD Youth pony, not only for Rocky but for his former owner too, with appearances at the Quest Championships and Associated Championships as well as the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships in both U21 and standard classes. Rocky explained about the next chapter for both him and his pony, on what would be a fitting conclusion to their time together; “Me and Chip have been together for two years and sadly he’s for sale now. He’s owned by Fi Grabham, her mum is called Pippa Drew and the only way I’ve got here is with her and my dressage trainer Katie Dartnell. We’ve found a new one and we’re starting to he’s starting to help me with Elementary and working up the levels.”
Thinking about the future it’s “just dressage” for Rocky who enthusiastically named BD patron and all-round dressage legend Carl Hester as his idol.
The British-bred MSJ Nigel (by Negro) was superb in second for owner rider Alison Young, scoring 72.130% to stay ahead of third placed duo Elizabeth Willetts and Cascob Locomotion (69.260%).
Petplan Equine Prelim Silver Summer Area Festival Champion
Winner: Kelly Hetherington & A Rio Negra, 70.56%
Swapping eventing for dressage a few years ago this is their first win between the white boards for Kelly Hetherington and her mare A Rio Negra. Taking home the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Prelim Silver Championships title Kelly was thrilled with the result, “really good, I was here yesterday and it wasn’t quite so good but I thought today ‘that was a good test’, I was very pleased with her.”
Having previously evented up to 2* the pair gave up galloping around the cross country Kelly told us, “she got injured, so I put her into foal – I've actually got her baby who’s by Britannia Mail, he actually starts his eventing debut next Sunday at Oasby!”
Going on to say, “we did do a bit of jumping after that but I don’t jump her anymore, we try to enjoy the dressage which – even though she’s dressage-bred – was never her favourite thing. She does love to jump but unfortunately her legs are a little bit old now!”
It’s taken a while for them to get used to just dressage spoke Kelly and with a full-time job in the family business which sells fine jewellery in Stamford it’s a bit of a juggling act, “I’m enjoying it now but I’m not sure how much she still does, it’s nice not to get so nervous every time and we’re learning together. It’s quite full on! But it’s all good, keeping busy!”
Qualifying at Sheepgate back in August Kelly couldn’t quite believe they have made it to Arena UK, “I couldn’t believe we did that as well actually. We came here having not really any expectations, the classes are huge too and I can’t believe we’ve won!”
Talking about the lovely black mare whom she has owned for ten years, “she’s so easy, we know each other inside out and she’s a bit mare-ish at times – as in she'd never do anything but she pulls faces, she’s the best horse ever, the best you can wish for.”
Petplan Equine Prelim Bronze Summer Area Festival Champion
Winner: Lily Carson & Red Valentino SCS, 72.99%
BD Youth rider Lily Carson (22) claimed a stellar victory in the Petplan Equine Prelim Bronze Area Festival Championship on board Sue Carson’s rising star Red Valentino SCS. In front of the judges panel of Anita Darken (C), Alison Duck (M) and Martyne Galland (E), the duo scored 72.990% to earn the Petplan rug and winners’ spoils.
“I’m really pleased with him,” Lily said about the eye-catching liver chestnut gelding, who stands at an impressive 16.3hh, “it couldn’t have any better – it's his first championships and his first stay away show, and he’s only five! We would’ve had him a year tomorrow so it’s all happened very quickly!”
About working with ‘Spider’ at home, Lily continued, “he’s an absolute angel, as he was today, that’s how he is at home too. His trot is definitely one of his highlights and he’s definitely going to be a horse for the future.”
It’s horses full time for Lily, who showed plenty of class in the saddle today, “I groom for Sue Carson, so I’m her groom and rider and I’m very lucky to have had this opportunity to ride her young horse that she’ll hopefully be able to compete up to Grand Prix in the future.”
Working with Sue in the run up to the championships has been all about getting the preparation right for a young but gifted horse, “we’ve been developing his strength and developing his paces further, he’s still only a young horse, we've been taking it slowly and enjoying every moment,” Lily said before summarising her Area Festival journey, “I’ve very much enjoyed the experience, I won my Area Festival to qualify for this at Kingswood both at Prelim and Novice too.”
It’s ‘back to work tomorrow’ and Monday business as usual for Lily, who’s hard work certainly paid off here today, and we wish her all the best of luck for the future.
Second place went to Charlotte Bloodworth with Louise Jones’ Comeragh Flight, scoring a superb 71.530%, whilst Laura Welsh and Rolling Dolly completed the top three in this competitive class where no less than 39 talented combinations trotted down the centre line.
Petplan Equine Elementary Bronze Freestyle Summer Area Festival Champion
Winner: Hannah Macmillan & Brookeborough Lad, 69.55%
The race for the final title of the week went right down to the wire in the Petplan Equine Elementary Bronze Freestyle Summer Area Festival Championships, with the final combination to raise their hand, start the music and head down the centre line taking the win. Scoring a superb 69.550%, Hannah Macmillan (19) and Brookeborough Lad gave us a thrilling conclusion to the championships going two better than their third place in the Elementary Bronze earlier in the day and earning their valiant victory.
"He was very very good actually," Hannah said, "I was expecting him to be a bit spooky because he can be a bit funny with the loud music! But he held himself together so well, I was really really proud of him for that, he smashed it."
"Our music is Pirates of the Caribbean, which I think really suits his movement - he's quite bold so we put a piece together and hoped for the best," the Leicestershire based rider continued telling us about her film themed choices for tonight's blockbuster test.
"He's like a dog," Hannah laughed telling us about her winning partner away from dancing inside the white boards, "he'd sit on your lap if he could, he's just awesome and so chilled." Having owned him since the age of four and produced him through the levels herself, Hannah has deservedly high hopes for even more to come, "I raised him from nothing really, he hadn't done much so that's been the last few years and we're hoping for a lot more years to come too."
This was Hannah's first attempt at winning a Petplan Equine freestyle title but the duo did make a debut appearance at this event in 2021, "we came to do the Novice and just got knocked out of the top ten last year. I didn't expect to go two better today [on her earlier 2022 placing], it was just fingers crossed, smile through it and hope for the best!"
"I work on an event yard close to home, at the minute I'm doing a Level 3 Apprenticeship so hopeful that after that I'll be self-employed and riding other peoples horses. Hopefully in the future I'll do some teaching too, and just enjoying ponies really."
The winning combination are hoping to step up to have a go at Medium Freestyle to Music with a Christmas themed programme primed and ready to go once the dust has settled on today's magical win.
After posting a fantastic score early in the class that would hold the lead right until the close, it was an eventual second place for Tracey Rose with Hero Harvey R, whilst third place went to young rider Meg Morgan with Pencwarre Butty Bach, owned by Georgia Hewett.
British Dressage congratulates all riders who took part in the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships, with a special congratulations to our 28 new Petplan Equine Champions and those who picked up awards for highest place Veteran Horse and BD Youth rider. Thanks go to Petplan Equine for their generous long-term support of the Area Festival Championships, as well as to Lauren Fogg and the team at Arena UK for their hard work in hosting a fantastic week of competition.