Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships 22: day three
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Day three at the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships saw Novice and Intermediate I taking centre stage, showcasing the very best of grassroots to small tour.
Petplan Equine Intermediate I Bronze Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Jo Weekes & Rossetti's Destiny, 68.24%
Jo Weeks and Rossetti’s Destiny came close to scoring a title on day one with a second place in the Prix St Georges Bronze, today the duo went one better to notch up a well-deserved victory in the Petplan Equine Intermediate I Bronze Summer Area Festival Championship.
“I felt it went well, of course there’s always room for improvement, but he just take it all on board and he’s so easy really,” Jo spoke of her test which earned a creditable winning score of 68.240% in front of the judges panel of Claire Ballantyne (C), Heather Ashley (M) and Alison Duck (E).
The Desperados sired gelding appears the dream horse for Jo who balances riding alongside her career, “he’s schooled just twice a week, the rest of the time he goes around Somerford Park on their farm ride! He’s not what I’d call drilled at all, he’s worked for competitions and the rest is just enjoying being in the field and farm rides.
“It coincides with my work which over the past few years has been extremely hard, as I work in the NHS, he’s been my downtime. We’ve both supported each other.” Jo works in Nuclear medicine treating cancer patients and tributed her win to both those she helps and those she’s lost, “this one’s for my patients” Jo told us whilst explaining how much those she cares for enjoy asking about her superstar horse.
Time away from work was spent in preparation for an appearance at the Championships, on their preparation she continued, “just keeping him forwards and supple in his changes, he’s established with his changes and half pass but he sometimes think he knows it all! He’s got the nickname ‘mini professor’ and he thinks he knows what he’s doing so it’s just saying come back a little and listen today. But today he was excellent.”
Jo, who trains with Debbie Jones, also praised her home team when talking about how it feels to win at this prestigious fixture; “This is his first season at PSG and Inter I, on Thursday he came second, to get to first in the Inter I is just amazing. It all goes down to him, my trainer, my support at Somerford Park, it’s just great.”
Next up for the winning combination is a trip to the Cavago Veteran Associated Championships, “I don’t like the word but I am over the age of 55,” laughed Jo, “we’ve already started work on the Inter II movements so it’s consolidating that over the winter. But there’s no rush, he’s only nine so just let’s enjoy!”
Making the journey from Devon, Janine Jansen earned another Petplan placing with Spitfire III scoring 67.840% for second, whilst Claire Ackerman and Woodcroft Heinrich also returned to the podium with a third to follow up their Prix St Georges Silver Freestyle win on the opening day at Arena UK.
Petplan Equine Novice Freestyle Bronze Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Rachel Philo & Brynmelys Ranaldo, 73.15%
Rachel Philo and Brynmelys Ranaldo delivered the winning performance in the Novice Freestyle Bronze Championship. An outstanding score of 73.15% putting the duo at the top of the leaderboard ahead of Catherine Rose with Abermenai Gilbern Invader (71.85%) and Kath Metcalfe wth Bibi’s Bambina (70.74%).
Rachel, who hails from Kent, was delighted with her 12-year-old Welsh gelding known at home as ‘Ronnie’. “I felt my test went great,” she reflected. “We didn’t have the best test when we qualified so I was determined to get it right at the Championships. Ronnie was with me every step of the way especially in his medium trots, which is his party piece!”
Rachel and Ronnie know each other well, their partnership having spanned nine years and counting, as Rachel explains; “Ronnie was bought for me as a three-year-old colt by my husband as a 30th birthday present. He asked if I wanted to go to Paris or have a new horse… being a horsey girl it had to be the new horse!”
Ronnie didn’t have the best start recalls Rachel, as he had to have an operation for a retained testicle and after that he caught strangles, but these bumps in the road were soon put behind them on their pathway to success.
“I had done some dressage a few years ago and when Covid struck, a lot of Ronnie’s showing shows were not running so I decided to give dressage a go as something to keep him busy. I competed him at Prelim and he won both classes with a huge score so I asked my friend, Clare Ashley, if she would compete him for me. I had a young daughter at the time and was unable to compete during the week as I had no childcare. My daughter is now at nursery so I can now compete him myself with Clare giving me regular lessons as I’m very ring rusty.
“Ronnie needs a varied life to keep him happy so the week before the Championships my friend and I took him and my other Welsh to a sponsored ride so he could do some jumping. He qualified for the Elementary music final as well so he had to practice with Clare for that also.
“Ronnie is a very challenging horse to keep happy at home, but he is worth it,” continued Rachel. “He needs to be kept busy and keep his brain active otherwise he creates mischief! He turned up at the Champs and spent the first night fly bucking in his stable. I’m pleased he won the rug because it can replace the one he destroyed in the stable there! However, he qualified for the Championships with two different riders, so he is a superstar.
“He is a real rosette machine at anything he does," she enthused. "He was a top mountain and moorland working hunter pony previously and qualified for the Olympia semi-finals at Arena UK three years ago. I am hoping to try and qualify at Elementary level next year so will have some training over the winter to improve on this. Ronnie and I will just keep having fun and enjoying life in the meantime as who knows what’s round the corner where horses are concerned. I just hope I can keep him happy and healthy long enough for my daughter to enjoy him as much as I do.”
Petplan Equine Novice Bronze Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Beatrice Shepherd & Graffite Gold, 72.01%
Beatrice Shepherd and Graffite Gold were resplendent to top the Novice Bronze Summer Area Festival Championship, ahead of Lauren Thorpe and For Alondra in second (71.320%) and Scott Williams on board Judy Peploe’s Sapphire Blue in third.
“I was thrilled with it,” Hampshire-based Beatrice (24) told us about her winning performance, “he warmed up and felt like he’d been a bit affected by the atmosphere, I was pretty nervous going in! But actually he went in the ring and I think the atmosphere actually did him good if anything, he really showed off. He’s never been to a championship or anything like this before so I was over the moon with it! I never thought we’d win or anything like that, I was just thrilled with how he held it together in there.”
The elegant bay gelding and his talented rider make a wonderful picture, approved by the judges and delivering today’s win. “His medium trot is quite special,” Beatrice continued about what makes her dancing partner sparkle in the arena, “he likes to show that off and he always has a bit of a wow when he does that. His medium canter today was really good too, that’s something that can sometimes bring in the spooks for him, but today he managed to do the best medium canter he’s done. He’s quite good at the stretching too, he likes to have a little stretch!
“I got him just over a year ago. He hadn’t really done much, actually he’d been to a lot of dealers yards and had a rocky few years,” she explained about the journey that brought the two together. “I bought him off a friend who was producing him to show jump but he wasn’t the most careful jumper, she had him over the summer and I got him off her. I originally wanted to event him but again, he wasn’t such a careful showjumper! I didn’t really want to part with him because he’d been to so many different homes, I felt bad for him and I adore him to be honest – he's such a sensitive chap. So I thought that’s fine, we’ll go and do some dressage and see how we were at that.”
“We both only started doing BD in the spring,” Beatrice reflected on her debut year competing in affiliated dressage, “it’s our first championships and it might not be eventing, but actually it’s quite fun!”
What’s next for the winning partnership? A move up the levels but without pressure and plenty of fun; “We’ll see how it goes going up the levels, I don’t really want to sell him or anything like that. We’ve just started doing some Elementary tests and we’ll see where we can go with it all. But both of us are very green and don’t have much dressage experience, so wherever it takes us!”
“Everyone’s been so friendly, it’s been so well organised and we’ve been blessed with the weather as well, I was so worried the weather going to be so bad! It’s been a nice atmosphere and everyone’s been so lovely. I’ll hope we’ll be back again,” Beatrice concluded about her Petplan Equine Area Festival Summer Championship experience, “we’ve had so much fun!”
Petplan Equine Intermediate I Silver Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Millie Gover & Kamil T, 70.98%
Kamil T was the winning ride for 22 year old Millie Gover in the Petplan Equine Intermediate I Silver Summer Area Festival Championship, with the duo earning 70.980% under the analysis of Claire Ballantyne (C), Heather Ashley (M) and Anita Darken (E).
Reflecting on her class topping performance Millie said, “It was fiery! It was definitely forward going, he can do it all but he can just get hot so I knew that I’d just need to go for the big moves and hopefully it would pay off. He was a really good boy though, he just loves atmosphere – every time he comes to a show he just lights up and always has his ears forward.”
The bay gelding shows enormous power and movement, Millie told us about her Belgian-bred gelding by Thunder Van De Zuuthoeve (Argentinus x Nimmerdor), “sitting trot was difficult to get! He can be quite big moving, he’s got his nice show trot and as soon as I go sitting trot and he’s like ‘yeah let’s go’! He’s show jump bred so that’s where it’s come from, he’s quite athletic and I think that really helps, especially in the changes and extensions.”A seven year partnership and a discipline switch was the road to Petplan Festival success for the West Success rider, “I got him in 2015, we did eventing until 2017 and then we changed to pure dressage because he was just a bit too much...as you can probably see!”
“We’re trying to crack on to Inter II,” Millie suggested on the next steps for her and Kamil T, known affectionately at home as ‘Camel’. “But we’ve been doing a bit of a mixture really, we’ve had to leave the piaffe and the ones for the past couple of weeks because he would’ve just thrown them in – he's decided they’re his party trick! We’ve been working on straightness and me being as accurate as possible to get every mark we can.”
Away from time in the spotlight notching up championship wins, Speech and Language Therapist Millie works full time and balances riding alongside her career helping 0-5 year olds, “this is very much a hobby, afterwork and before work!”
Jane Littlejohn and her own Urban Knight were runners up in a competitive class, with Antonia Brown and SJL Duuk completing the top three.
Petplan Equine Novice Silver Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Tracey Mitchell & Mr Hardcore, 71.11%
With 39 combinations riding down the centre line in the Petplan Equine Novice Silver Summer Area Festival Championships, a well-earned win went to Tracy Mitchell and her own Mr Hardcore. The combination scored 71.110% and held on to their lead from third to go at the start of the class, judged by Gwyneth Lewis, Claire Deithrick and Lotte Olsen.
“I was pleased! It went to our plan,” Tracey exclaimed after collecting her winner’s rug, sash and rosette, “we had a plan – he can get a little bit exuberant in the medium canter so I went for a safe 6 (or a sad six!) - but it paid off because I didn’t lose marks on submission and rideability. He can get a bit jolly but he’s only five and it’s his first BD season. We’re thrilled with the test.”
“He’s amazing,” she continued about the smart black gelding by Hessessy and out of a Sir Donnerhall mare, “he’s the yard favourite...well I would say that wouldn’t I! But he’s easy to do, he’s’ chilled, he loves people and is a very people person. But as you can see he just takes everything in his stride.”
The avenue to the Area Festivals hasn’t been a entirely smooth course for Tracey and ‘Tommy’, who beat a minor setup back to qualify just in time; “I’ve had him just over a year, we started competing at BD earlier this year but he had three months off for a bruised sole. We did a competition in February and our first Novice but then our second and third Novice we got in on the 30 June – the last qualifying day! So we had three Novice scores for the Petplans, went to Speedgate and he won his Area Festival and now he’s come here and won his Championship test. We couldn’t be happier could we Tommy.”
“No, I mean he’s not established and I just came for the experience,” she continued about whether she’d expected to add her name to the winners roster here at Arena UK, “it’s been a fabulous show, really well organised and it’s been great to just let him take everything in.”
The Epsom-based rider will now aim to step up to Elementary level whilst balancing riding alongside her busy career, “I work full time as a senior lecturer at Kings College and I run a molecular genetics lab. So he fits in with my work schedule, we ride at strange hours but hopefully the next couple of years I’ll be able to step back a little bit and focus more on him. The plan was for me to step back in a couple of years when he was ready to start going out, but he’s just been so good I just cracked on with things!”
Second place in this hot contest belonged to the final rider to trot down the centre line – Lorraine Allen – who scored 69.720% with her own Somethin’ Else, whilst Claire Davies completed the podium just a fraction behind with Quat Lady.
Petplan Equine Intermediate I Bronze Freestyle Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Rhiannon Hinton & Quaikin Horatio, 68.50%
A familiar face to the Petplan Area Festivals, Rhiannon Hinton and her wonderful black gelding Quaikin Horatio took the win today in the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Inter I Bronze Freestyle. Dancing their way to the top of the podium with 68.50% in front of the judges Gwyneth Lewis (C), Alison Duck (M), Joyce Wood (E).
Keeping everything calm was Rhiannon’s plan, “He was very hot in the test, he was very sensitive but we managed to do our test and think the judges liked the energy and the pizzazz to his work.” In the prize giving Quaikin Horatio showed his true power to the crowd, “I had to be very careful in the test, as you saw in the prize giving he is very hot but it has done him the whole of good coming and achieving this because last time I did music indoors I had to retire as he was petrified of the music.”
Managing to complete their test today and go home with a sash Rhiannon spoke with pride, “It’s a sign he has matured and trusts me. Outdoor music is fine, it’s just when it’s indoors he gets a bit claustrophobic.”
A good horse to train at home Rhiannon loves working with the ‘family pet,’ “he generally finds everything quite easy and he is the most comfortable horse to ride, when he is connected and over he is a dream. It doesn’t matter what result I get, if I have that feeling it’s priceless. He’s just like a big puppy, he’s a family pet, I’ve had in since he was two.”
The now nine year old has been working at Inter I for the last year where they also attended the Petplan Equine Winter Area Festival Championships back in April after only a couple of previous tests at this level “I think that was only his third Inter I then so he’s still relatively new to the level. There’s a lot of improvement to be hard in the strength and maturing,” Rhiannon told us.
After their success today they are going home to focus on the training, “also have a bit of time out over the winter and we’ll aim for the Prix St Georges Regionals next summer and I have my eye on the Middle Tour too later in the year.”
Petplan Equine Intermediate I Silver Freestyle Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Lynne Macleod & Hermes IV, 69.13%
Our final winner on day three of the second annual Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championship was Cheltenham-based rider Lynne Macleod with Hermes IV, the duo produced a powerful, polished test to impress the judges, earning 69.130% for victory in the Intermediate I Silver Freestyle competition.
“This morning wasn’t so good,” Lynne admitted about her morning’s preparation, “so I rang my trainer Paolo and he gave me a kick up the bum and it all went to plan, the music hardly every goes to plan, all the timings and it was actually a freestyle music I made for a Prix St Georges level. When we started doing Inter I I thought I shall just use that and actually all the timings work really well, which was amazing.”
Speaking about her home-produced upbeat music, which brought great energy to the Arena UK indoor, she continued, “T.W.I.E which is the entrance and is quite upbeat and our medium trot is bang bang bang so it gives off the hello I'm here vibe, then Ganster’s Paradise which is a bit random and finally Titanium which is a bit of a mix between the lyrics and a piano version. I really enjoy making the music on the computer it’s really fun”
The 10 year old gelding Hermes IV is an APSL registered Lusitano by Quixote and out of a Loro mare. “He’s only 15.1hh at most but he just comes out and he’s got such a big movement you don’t expect it and you don’t feel like you’re on a little horse at all,” Lynne explained about the quality of her Iberian superstar. “His medium trot is a highlight, as people don’t expect it, so you come in and then suddenly he’s got this big, loose movement. If I can count the changes they are generally good too but I am terrible at counting and this level is very new for me so counting five threes and seven twos is maths! If someone told me maths would be useful I would have paid more attention!”
When asked about the Petplan Festivals experience Lynne, who recently made an appearance at the Midway Championships too, spoke about planning and hopes paying off, “I have enjoyed loads, it’s given us something to aim for as well and to have qualified was just amazing and to get here and do this is incredible. I did not expect to win at all!”
It’s horses full time for Lynne who also paid credit to those who help made her competition journey not just a possibility but a success; “I run a livery yard so it’s horses all day long but generally not my own but you just have to get your own in when you can and getting away from the yard can be difficult but we have a great team at home. We are near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, which is about two and a half hours from here.”
Away from the dressage arena, Lynne and Hermes have earned much success in the Working Equitation sphere, and made their debut World Championships appearance earlier this year. “We actually do Working Equitation and it’s our main discipline for six years,” Lynne explained, “this is what we do to practice the dressage for that and we have our National Finals in three weeks!”
Working Equitation involves three phases, dressage, ease of handling and speed, which Lynne says her multi-talented mount thoroughly enjoys! Speaking about how parallels can be drawn between the two disciplines and how the training applies to both, “it helps, for Working Equitation at advanced level, which we are working at it’s all one handed and for this level you are allowed to do three movement sone handed so I teapot impression in the canter half pass for extra technical difficulty so it’s similar in lots of different ways. The Working Equitation helps the dressage and the dressage helps with the accuracy and the rhythm as well as just getting him out in these big environments which is great as when we do the other competitions he will not be spooking at the flower pots.”
Jane Littlejohn and her own Urban Knight took second place, the duo returning to the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships after another successful appearance in 2021.