Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships 23: day three
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Day three saw riders at Elementary and Prix St Georges level step forward for their shot at Peptlan Equine Summer Area Festival glory.
Petplan Equine Elementary Bronze Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Chloe Fry and Oelarobie Van Het Eelshof, 70.588%
Chloe Fry stepped into the limelight to take the title in the Elementary Bronze Area Festival Championship with her Oelarobie Van Het Eelshof; the duo scored 70.588% to place ahead of Elementary Freestyle winners Samantha Baker and Limerick Lady Rebel in second (69.265%) and Rebecca Jessett earning 69.216% with the Irish Sport Horse registered Percival’s Rebel (by Huntingfield Rebel) in third.
“I thought it went really well,” 26 year old Chloe commented on her test, “she was really responsive to me and did everything when she was meant to. I was a bit worried...she likes doing walk to canter at the moment and the whole time you practice halting on the centre line she gives canter! I thought ‘we cannot do it in our test!’ - we did that at our Area Festivals and I was a little disappointed that day.”
‘Ella’ has been with Chloe for four years, “she was a just broken five year old when I first got her, we couldn’t canter, we couldn’t do a circle and she was my little project pony to work away on whilst I was grooming for Kitty! I thought I’d work on her and sell her on, but she’s too lovely and I don’t want to sell her any more – that's gone out the window!” The Belgian-bred mare is by Millar and out of a Quadrillo mare, with superb show jumping bloodlines that hail back to Quidam De Revel; Chloe was full of praise for her temperament adding, “She always goes in the ring and tries so hard, she really loves her work.”
Chloe worked the morning before travelling four hours to Arena UK to compete; her day job is as travelling head groom for none other than Olympic eventing rider Kitty King: “I’ve been with Kitty seven years now, I’ve been to places that I never thought I would. When I started it was as a working pupil and I had my other horse at the time there to train. I went to a few competitions and from there it got bigger and I went everywhere with Kitty.”
“Felix (my other horse) went to my Aunty and I was missing riding as Kit does all of that, we’re quite a small yard, so I got Ella to play around with! She’s so good, I can drop her for a couple of weeks when I’m away and just get back on and come here after not doing much.”
Speaking about the decision to turn her attention to dressage and the Petplan Equine Area Festivals Chlose continued, “I don’t get that much time and dressage seems to be a little bit easier to fit in, I can go off and do it in a day. I didn’t think we were going to be that good, but we seem to be doing quite well! We qualified and I thought why not give it a go.”
“The combination will now aim to step up to Medium level, “I think we’re both ready so we’ll take each competition as it comes and go from there,” the talented rider concluded, considering what’s on the horizon now that a championship title is in the bag.
Petplan Equine Elementary Freestyle Silver Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Alison Heywood and Thomas K, 74.936%
It was the outstanding Friesian Thomas K, ridden by Alison Heywood, to take home the title in the Petplan Equine Elementary Silver Freestyle as judges Cat Ellis, Alison Duck and Joyce Wood awarded the pair 74.93%.
Thomas was sourced in Holland by owner Lady Kate Hobart, who originally planned to enjoying riding him herself after losing her previous horse, “I retired my old horse and have always wanted a Friesian so I said to Alison, who has always been my trainer, 'we’re going to buy a Friesian', which we did! Within the first year he’d managed to break me! Quite literally my shoulder - and I said you better ride him, he needs a really good rider.”
With Alison the duo started out at Prelim level just three years ago and have since attended five championships together, but this is their first National title. Alison told us about their test in the indoor arena, “I’m really pleased, he was little bit tense going in there because we haven’t ridden in that indoor before, but it certainly gave him more lift and I’m delighted with him, he was super.”
Proud owner Kate has loved the journey and supporting from the sidelines, except today where the nerves of waiting for the win kicked in: “It’s been a joy. We live on the Isle of Wight, so it makes competing entertaining because of the ferries but we love it. I’ve been in tears all afternoon and drinking a lot of gin! After he had done his test it was nail-biting waiting all that time for those other horses to go, but I’ve always wanted to rug!”
Alison and Kate are the perfect partnership, working together to allow their KFPS registered gelding to shine. Kate added, “we say he’s our big black Labrador. He can be very much a one-person horse but we are his people, he knows that Alison rides him and I do everything else for him.”
The music was Kate’s idea, Alison told us, who had never ridden a freestyle before picking up the reins with Thomas K, “We came up with it between us and Kate did a lot of research into it and came up with the music, which we love because it’s very different.”
“It’s interesting finding something that works, because he’s got such a powerful rhythm, to find something that’s different with that. Equidance were wonderful, it’s been great,” Kate concluded.
The team are now hoping to continue their Petplan Equine Area Festival journey through the levels, with Medium next on the cards and a new freestyle to make.
Hannah Knight and Indy Pepper were just a fraction behind our winners, scoring 74.359% in second, whilst Amanda Barrett and her own A Cappella (Ampere x Christ) claimed third on 72.757%.
Petplan Equine Elementary Bronze Freestyle Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Samantha Baker and Limerick Lady Rebel, 72.180%
The first freestyle class to commence in the Indoor arena on day three of the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships was won by Samantha Baker and her lovely mare Limerick Lady Rebel with a brilliant score of 72.180%. The personal best score saw them lead the way in a highly contested class of 28 starters.
Samantha described to us her winning test, “I felt it went really well, I was really pleased” reflecting on how much the test meant to her today, “I was emotional when it stopped. I’m really chuffed.”
The beautiful skewbald mare, also demonstrated her class by placing second in the Elementary Bronze class, furthermore, being the highest placed senior horse at 16 years old. Her more petite build played a huge inspiration in Samantha’s choice of music for her freestyle test; “She is quite a dainty smaller horse, so we chose some classical music” but not without a modern twist, “I wanted it to be something you could recognise, so it was Bridgerton inspired, which creates a modern theme within a classical style” created in partnership with Equidance.
The 16.1hh, “is usually actually really chill, everybody thinks she is really easy, but she does have her quirks, although she is generally really good and easy to do.”
Despite the combinations incredible achievements today the journey to the Area Festival Championships hasn’t been the easiest, “it’s been a bit of a rocky one, we use to event and then during covid, we weren’t really allowed to jump, so we went into dressage. We have been very busy and had up and downs on the way, but we have been persistent and it is finally paying off.”
The hard work really has paid off for Samantha today, “I’ve been putting a lot of training in, and a lot of time, energy, effort and money but it has been great. It’s been really nice and everyone has been really helpful.” Although feeling, “very nervous on the run up to” Samantha has “absolutely loved” her experience at the championships.
Looking towards the future the pair have been training at Medium level and practising their tests at some unaffiliated events, “we would especially like to aim for the Winter Regionals freestyle.”
Second and third place were spit by just under 0.2% with Katie Hudson and Pembroke Foxtrot claiming the second step on the podium with a score of 70.898%, and Julie Smith taking the final step on the podium in third riding Sheepcote Fiorucci to a score of 70.769%.
Petplan Equine Elementary Silver Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Freya Walsh and Seventh Heaven II, 69.412%
Scoring 69.412%, Foundation Academy rider Freya Walsh was a standout winner in the Petplan Equine Elementary Silver Area Festival Championship with Susie White’s Seventh Heaven. For those astute Area Festival followers, the White’s homebred Seventh Heaven is a familiar face, having been in the winner’s circle in 2021 with owner Susie on board, “he’s a rug machine!” his proud owner commented from the sidelines today.
“The medium trot down the centre line was definitely a highlight,” Freya spoke about her performance in the Petplan arenas, “I absolutely love doing it in the test and it’s definitely Dids’ favourite part! After the walk you can relax a little knowing that our best bit is still to come.”
“We’ve been here for a few days because he’s been competing in the Prix St Georges [with owner Susie] too. It’s just been amazing to watch everyone, it’s been lovely to be here and Dids has loved it too.”
17 year old A level student Freya is a real newcomer to dressage and hails from a non-equestrian family who explained they’ve “learnt a lot” to be able to support from the sidelines. “I started riding him just over a year ago and I’ve worked up from Elementary and now we’re training at Advanced Medium. He’s just a little legend and he’s been really good to me; a year ago I’d only done one dressage competition and now he’s brought me all the way here!”
“He’s perfect, he’s totally dreamy and he always tries his heart out,” she continued, speaking fondly about the 14 year old gelding by SHGB graded stallion Catherston Dance in the Dark (Dutch Courage x Xenocles).
“We’ve got our second Foundation Academy coming up soon,” Freya concluded, speaking about how much she’s learnt on the programme, “they’ve been really amazing – the training is incredible but it’s just enough that you can take it all in without it being too much, I’ve learnt so much."
Second place belonged to Tracey Kibler with the Tailormade Horses bred mare Furst Showgirl (Furstenball x Cadeur), the combination scored 68.922%, whilst Harriet Ford claimed the final podium place earning 68.726% with her own 17 year old gelding According To Archie.
Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Silver Freestyle Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Alexandra Shaw and Headmore Roxanne, 68.125%
Alexandra Shaw and her own Headmore Roxanne achieved a practically perfect win in the Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Silver Freestyle Championship, scoring 68.12% to take the spoils ahead of Shelly Reeve-Smith and Garfield VDW (67.959%) and Lucinda Bellis with her own Windover II (66.333%).
“I was really pleased, she tried really hard! We’ve got Mary Poppins music that Sara Green made us that we love,” Alexandra explained about her freestyle test and winning music choices, “it really suits her and she danced away to it. It captures her personality down to a tee, she always knows what’s going on and likes things to be in order!”
Speaking about the highlights from her performance in front of John Robinson, Gillian Peters and Sue Petty she continued, “I was really pleased with her medium trots today and her changes too – we do changes out of our first halt so I was happy they came off today and happened as they should!”
“She’s really lovely,” the proud owner rider added about the character of her British bred mare by Rhondeo and out of Sarah Oppenheimer’s Allerliebst, the same dam as Alice Oppenheimer’s successful Headmore Delegate, “she’s such a nice mare with a real workmanlike attitude; we train with Alice and she was bred at the Headmore stud too. She’s laid back, she comes out everyday and nothing is ever a problem for her.”
“We’ve had her nine years and this is our first big win, it just means so much. She’s my only horse, I have a day job as well so it’s huge,” said Alexandra who works in global health policay, “it’s very un-horsey and I have to do my riding on lots of dark cold evenings in the winter, but this makes it all worth it.”
The combination are now aiming to do an Intermediate I test in the winter, “she’s 17 this year, it’s been an amazing summer with her and if we can we’ll give it a go,” she concluded.
Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Silver Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Claire Ballantyne and Dvorak, 67.696%
BD judge Claire Ballantyne was an emphatic winner of the Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Silver Summer Area Festival Championships. In front of Andrea Smith (E), Richard Baldwin (C) and Charlotte Wilson (M), Claire rode to 67.696% on board her own British Warmblood Dvorak.
The nine year old black gelding is by De Niro and out of a Florestan mare, who was bred by Claire, “I’m thrilled! It was the best we could do at this stage, he’s a horse in development and he’s so lovely to ride, he was super on the aids. He’s like his mother who I rode at the same level and won the Advanced Medium Open 12 years ago when the Championships were at Hartpury. So were just thrilled that the eldest child is carrying it on.”
With an amazing work ethic, Claire loves the training with Dvorak, “He never lets me down, he always goes and in front of me. If I try and do what I should and keep it all together then he just takes off. His brain is lovely, really workable. He’s just a lovely person.” Also owning his half sister, who is ridden by her trainer Callum Whiteworth, Claire is proud of all of her horses, “Our little breeding programme has really come together. She’s slightly bigger and a year younger and they’ve got the same qualities, they’ve always got this engine that just keeps going.”
Managing all of her industry commitments as well as riding is quite the task but the win her today makes it all worth it, “I choose my venues around my industry commitments, so it has to be carefully planned but we make it work. It’s been a fabulous venue, I’ve loved it, the riding services are out of this world, the organisation has been first class. It’s got a real championships feel.”
With the help from Callum they hope to carry on up the levels and make it back here for the Middle Tour championships in which Claire was judging this week. “I want to carry on with the Inter I at the Area Festivals, the maybe do Winter Regionals. Far more important than the competition is the training, I think we may just make it into the big tests together but just to stay healthy and in good harmony is all I ask for.”
Daryl Ware placed second with his own Furst Crusador, whilst Judith Johnson earned third position with her KWPN gelding Casper VII (Dayano x Mondriaan).
Photos © Kevin Sparrow