Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships 22: day two
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From vivacious veterans to familiar faces, day two at the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships celebrated winners at Advanced Medium and Elementary level. Read about a thrilling Friday at Arena UK.
Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Bronze Freestyle Summer Area Festival Champion
Winner: Alice Elliott & Chatsworth Chieftain, 70.78%
There was barely a dry eye in the house for the first prize giving of the day, where Alice Elliott scored a farewell victory with her long-term dancing partner Chatsworth Chieftain. The combination, with a combined age of 87, scored 70.87% to claim the Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Bronze Freestyle Area Festival Championship in front of Cherry Elvin (C), Judy Hancock (M) and Pippa Hahn (E).
“Well it’s an emotional day, I don’t want to cry but this is my last competition with this horse,” Alice told us after her prize giving, “he’s going to a young rider. I have had him since he was five and I don’t want to break him or keep pushing him, so he’s going to a young rider to learn all the tricks.”
Their test today in the Arena UK Indoor was every step worthy of the iconic Petplan Equine sash, rug and rosettes, within which they picked up the Petplan Equine Senior Horse award too. “We went in there and he just gave me everything as he always does. He’s nothing flashy, he’s not a warmblood, he’s part shire but he’s got a heart of gold. He did it all, I put seven changes in the test and he got every one of them, I am astutely delighted.”
Alice summarised the feeling of complete elation at the end of a super test, “one of the judges gave us a thumbs up and I thought ‘yes we’ve done it!’ What a great finale.”
As with plenty of great horses, it’s not always been plain sailing with the impressive part-bred Shire, “When I first got him he frightened me to death, I nearly sold him and the trainer I had at the time said let me take him for a week and she said do you realise how sensitive he is. I went sensitive! But he was and it was a turning point and it was around four years until I dare take him out on my own to a competition but now I would trust him with anyone. He’s grown up a lot!”
For their winning freestyle today, it was a British theme with hits from popular greats Queen: “It’s Queen, don’t ask me the name of the songs but it’s always been his music and whenever I hear someone else use Queen I go this is my music, why are you using that! It’s his music and it’ll go with him when he goes on to the next rider. It’s big and bold, like he is and everyone knows this horse and locally he’s a legend.”
Alice and Chief encapsulate everything about the magical energy that surrounds the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships, where every winner has a great story to tell and every combination has the chance to shine; she concluded by summarising her experience “we’ve got 87 years between us. It’s been a fabulous show, for me it’s a local show we’re only an hour and a half away, I think it’s been a nice friendly atmosphere and the facilities have been fantastic, one of the best across the country, I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Clare Ashley and Pintofields Regal Hit placed second with 70.06%, with Kim Parker completing the top three earning 69.89% with Claire Watts’ Amigo A.
Petplan Equine Elementary Silver and Elementary Silver Freestyle Summer Area Festival Champion
Winner: Victoria Homden & Ollie, 72.70% and 74.17%
After bursting onto the scene with a win in 2021, Victoria Homden made a winning return to the Petplan Equine arena with the pint-sized perfection Ollie. The now nine year old Ollie has progressed through the levels under the guidance of Victoria, with their win today coming in the Petplan Equine Elementary Silver Summer Area Festival Championships. The judges panel – Claire Ballantyne, Sue Staines, Heather Ashley – rewarded 72.70% to the worthy winners, with Kathy Staples and Le Blanc Ter Selles earning 71.860% in the runner up spot whilst day one winner Elizabeth Thomas returned to the podium with Dream-Dragon taking third place on this occasion.
Victoria and Ollie faced the brunt of the British conditions on a bright but breezy day at Arena UK, “it’s windy, very windy! But he kept his mind on the job and just performed the best he could. I couldn’t have asked for anymore really,” the Hampshire based rider reflected on her performance.
“I think because now I’ve done it a few times I can be a lot more accurate on my tests which I think helps with the extra marks. I’m not thinking about how to ride the tests now, it’s just becoming a little bit more natural, so hopefully we can just keep moving on.”
Day two at the Championships saw two tests on the cards for the combination with an indoor arena appearance under the Arena UK lights for the Elementary Silver Freestyle; “I’m quite excited but it is only the second time I am competing with this music and the first time was the regionals! So we did really well at the regionals and it suits him better so hopefully he can absorb the atmosphere and we can do alright again.”
And alright they did notching up another win in the evening’s Petplan Equine Elementary Silver Freestyle Championships. Talking about her test, Victoria said “it was phenomenal wasn’t it! That’s only the second time I’ve ever ran through that music; I changed it last minute for the regionals. I made my instructor cry at the regionals and now I’ve made my nan cry tonight! I haven’t seen her for two years because of Covid and she’s just moved up here – all my cousins and family came down and I haven’t seen them in over ten years!”
“He was fab as per normal,” she added about the ever-giving Welsh/traditional cob. When asked about music choices Victoria laughed, “that’s a very good question! It’s a good selection and it’s got a really good buzz. When I sent it away to be done I said ‘choose whatever, do what works for him’ and I’ll do it!”
Second place in the Elementary Silver Freestyle went to Lynda Cardno with her own Eton II, whilst Cat Dalton with M Bainbridge’s Derrentigue Bruce completed the podium. Victoria’s winning score was an impressive 74.170%, leaving her four percent clear of the field – judge at C Alison Duck was on duty for the prize giving and noted that our winning combination were ‘outstanding’.
Talking about the character of the handsome homebred at home, Victoria continued, “he’s exactly the same [stood beautifully], but probably a little bit more cheeky! He’s definitely got a cheeky side. If there is something to destroy or something to distract that is definitely him so at home, whenever we move fields, we have to go round and Ollie-fy the fields. I mean he’s got these lovely shelters in the fields, but he can't go in them because he pulls the windows out and pulls things down. He's just cheeky. Don't be trusting by this face. He will never harm you but he’s extremely cheeky!”
Next up for the duo will be a step up in level to Advanced Medium, with Victoria concluding “we did do one the other day, it’s just getting those changes. Once we’ve got those changes on queue, we will be ok won't be Ollie,” to her dancing partner in quiet agreement.
Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Bronze Summer Area Festival Champion
Winner: Lucy Mills & MSL Saltarello Hit, 66.92%
After a rocky few days for Lucy Mills and MSL Saltarello they pulled it out of the bag today to take the win in the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Advanced Medium Bronze. Lucy tells us about their run up to today competition, “I am really pleased with him as we haven’t had a good run up to the show. A couple days ago I couldn’t get on him because he had a sore back so a quick adjustment of the saddle and we were away, I am just so glad I could get on him today as he did me very proud”
The ten year old gelding has been with Lucy since a four year old and have made their way up the level together. Talking about her test, “we weren’t really expecting to win as we had a few mistakes in the changes but the rest of it I was really pleased with and he stayed with me and let me settle into the movements.”
It’s taken a while for the partnership to grow into the combination you see today, “he tries so hard for me, he was scared of his own shadow as a four year old and was quite sharp and cold backed but we have got trust and a mutual agreement now, it’s onwards and upwards now.” With Lucy being a part time student it’s been a bit of a juggling act, “I freelance ride a bit locally back home but I am also a osteopathy student and have just started my last year. I am looking forward to be able to get back out.”
This is their first time at the Petplan Equine Area Festivals and what a great start they are having, “I am really looking forward to doing it again hopefully at Prix St Georges in the coming years.”
Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Silver Summer Area Festival Champion
Winner: John Hill & Polly’s Wish, 68.25%
The sunshine did not hold out for John Hill and Polly’s Wish but that did not stop them from adding the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Advanced Medium Silver title to their record. Travelling down from Northumberland the pair just started their test when the heavens opened John said, “I could see the weather coming in and sure enough just as I went in the monsoon started and it hammered it down. She has evented before and she lives up north so she sees a lot of rain, she put her best foot forwards and was really good.”
They started their championship in the Prix St Georges yesterday where they came in the top twenty, “she was quite green, so I just went quietly to try and save her for today as I knew we would be back again.”
John tells us proudly about the eleven year old mare, “she’s not the biggest moving horse in the world but she’s very correct and she never missed a beat all the way through it. You know when you’re riding a really good test when it all comes together, every movement she just nailed and was very consistent.”
Owned by Ailsa Trafford the mare has been competing with John for three years where they have also competed at regionals. “I come from an equine background and I have evented to a high level before and I do a lot of coaching but don’t have a lot of time to ride which is why she is lovely because I can ride her twice a week and she never changes,” John tells us.
“We just felt that coming up to Prix St Georges that she would be green so we thought we would come down the Area Festival route. It’s been a really great experience and I think the quality of the competition has surprised me coming from the regional side and was pleasantly surprised over some lovely riders and horses across the two days we have been here.”
Looking across at Ailsa they both smile when they talk about Polly, “she is an absolute pussy cat at home, she’s lovely in the stable and the field, she lives with miniature Shetland ponies and looks after them, she is just an easy to do horse. Ailsa home bred her and is just a dream.”
Finally talking about Arena UK and the atmosphere at the championships, “It’s been great, I was based in Lincolnshire for a while, so I’ve been here and jumped rather than the dressage in the past. It’s a great venue and it’s great that it’s in the middle of the country so it’s accessible for everybody.”
Rounding off the top three was our highest placed U21 rider Bethany Edginton and Furstenbelle FB as well as Samantha Reeves and Genève.
Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Silver Freestyle Summer Area Festival Champion
Winner: Nicole Turner & J'Eton Hit LDS, 69.89%
It was a surprise win for Nicole Turner in the Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Silver Freestyle with her eight year old gelding J’Eton Hit LDS. “It was a pleasant surprise we had actually done the Advanced Medium silver non-music class first and he was quite hot and tense, as that’s just the way he is,” Nicole told us.
Talking about their winning freestyle test in the indoor arena this morning, “We had gone from a really chilled warm up to a really hot warm up, but he pulled it out the bag and seemed to breath out and really relax once he was in the ring. So really chuffed with him, he didn’t really make a single mistake to be honest with you. Except jumping at the little strip of light in the middle of the arena which interrupted our canter half pass but he just carried on, so I was thrilled with him.”
They danced their way between the white boards to a variety of modern music which suits J’Eton Hit LDS, “we used Snoop Dog as our intro and Major Laser for our trot and Kungs Cookin’ on Gas for our canter and then a piano version of Old Town Road for our walk. I like quite modern music although he has quite old fashioned breeding, he’s quite light as a horse but it really goes well with him.”
Their Area Festival journey so far has been a bit of a rollercoaster thanks to J’Eton Hit LDS as Nicole describes him as a typical man, “he likes to take over and likes to think he knows best!”
“The actually area festivals themselves I was delighted with him because he won the straight class at his first outing and then won the music class at his first outing for music. So that was quite straight forward. The journey here has been a little bit more up and down, but that’s horses for you, that’s dressage.”
Nicole talked to us about her gelding whom she has formed quite the partnership with, “I think he’s really easy, he’s a ladies ride. He’s never strong, he doesn’t pull at you, he doesn’t push you out the saddle but he is very quick and he will turn around and you’ll be going the other way before you can even think about it.”
It’s taken a while for the pair to get to know each other but they have found their perfect tempo now Nicole goes on to say, “I would say he’s genuine, in that he’s not nasty, but because he’s so sharp and hot he’s probably not the most generous at times. But he loves variety, so we actually do a lot of arena eventing, we do a lot of hacking, up to 30 miles and do so show jumping for fun.”
“So to prepare for this he went in the school twice in the space of a week and then went for a canter around the field on a hack. That just suits him. The pressure in my head to be like I must go over all these movements doesn't work for him. It doesn’t really work for me either, if he can go for a nice canter, he’s happy.”
The future looks bright for this pair as they continue working at Prix St Georges, having made their debut at this level a few weeks ago. Nicole is ready for the next step, “it was more to see where we are at, what’s going to fall apart in the ring, because that’s what I want to do next year for the Summer Area Festivals.” Heading down the regional route for the winter season is also on Nicole's mind but the big aim is being competitive at the next level, “we’ll see where we go, hopefully do Prix St Georges for a year and another year at Inter I, but we will see how it goes!”