Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships 23: day two

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Fri, 06 Oct 2023 09:58

Day two at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships delivered six new champions at Medium and Prix St Georges level, each encapsulating the great spirit, emotion and camaraderie of the Area Festivals.

Petplan Equine Medium Bronze Freestyle Summer Area Festival Championship
Winner: Emma Chinn and Ballyblack Jack, 72.000%

Day two of the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships got off to a flying start with the Petplan Equine Medium Bronze Freestyle Summer Area Festival Championship, which saw a familiar face top the podium to take the first title of the day.

Emma Chinn and Ballyblack Jack scored an impressive 72.000% to top the high scoring freestyle class as competition kicked off at Arena UK for the second day. And this isn’t Emma and Ballyblack Jack’s first win here, having won the Elementary Freestyle Silver two years ago at the inaugural Summer Area Festival Championships.

On their experience the second time round, Emma said Ballyblack Jack was a bit calmer this time round as it is familiar surroundings and atmosphere “I thought my test went really well, he was really together, listening to me as he was quite calm as the arena is busy. So I came out pleased with him.”

Emma has had the 14-year-old dark bay gelding since 2020, “I got him literally just before the lockdown started, so it gave us a good period of time to build a partnership and get going which was really nice. He is quite chilled and an ex-eventer so he's good at standing on the lorry which is good! He enjoys hacking around and my mum rides him a bit too.”

Emma praised the Area Festival series and the way it’s set up, saying "I really like how you've got to get your scores to then get to the Area Festival stage, and then obviously if you win there, then you qualify. I think it's a nice process and a nice way to get into a championship environment.”

On their plans for the next 12 months, Emma, who trains with Annie Hunter Blair and Serena Pincus, said “I’m aiming to get my flying changes a bit better, and then step up to Advanced Medium. I did have a go yesterday and didn't do too badly. But yes I’d like to improve on that.”

Emma is currently in her second year at the Royal Cultural University studying rural law management. 

Laura Thompson came in second place with her own Star of Capri scoring 71.278%, this was followed extremely closely by Cat Dalton finishing in third only on collectives after scoring the same as Laura with 71.278%. 

Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Bronze Summer Area Festival Championship   
Winner: Lucy Lloyd and Glensensaw Sweet Girl, 67.255%

Lucy Lloyd and Glensensaw Sweet Girl have achieved Petplan Equine Area Festival Championship wins for three years running now, and added to their title collection at the 2023 Summer edition with victory in the Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Bronze Summer Area Festival Championship. Their winning score was 67.255% to place ahead of championship first-timer Shona Davies with veteran rosette winner Bocelli in second and Kent’s Emma Kinsley and Zelandes in third.  

“I was delighted with the test,” Lucy commented about her winning performance, “she’s always really consistent and always comes out with the same frame of mind, so you always know you’re going to get a nice test. I get more and more nervous! I never used to feel nerves because I used to event, so when I started doing dressage I thought it was nothing like getting in the start box and going around a cross country course! Now as I’ve done it for more and more years, I feel the nerves as you know you can do a nice test and if you don’t ride it properly that’s why you’re going to get mistakes.”

“I don’t want to let her down, she’s always there for me and willing as long as I ask in the right way, that’s the pressure.”

The build up to the Championships has also been far from plain sailing for the duo: “I’ve had a bit of a quiet year in that I’ve had a baby and then I broke my foot! We only started doing the Prix St Georges work early in the year and rushed out in June to try and get some points to qualify. She’s new to all the pirouette and tempi change work and so am I, so I was really pleased with how they went; especially considering we’ve not had a lot of practice recently! It was also my sister’s wedding two weeks ago so I haven’t ridden for ten days.”

The Horse Sport Ireland registered mare by Uskerty Sweet Lad has been a superstar for her Sheffield-based rider and their time in the arena at this event had a bittersweet tone as Lucy has made the brave decision to put her riding on hold. “She’s up for sale now and I haven’t quite got my head around that yet; as I went down the centre line I thought ‘just relax’ because it might be the last time I get to do this with her. I’ve only just been able to start talking about it without crying to be honest.” Explaining the tough decision Lucy added, “She’s in her prime and I’m in the middle of life chaos going back to work with a one year old, trying to keep her going whilst maintaining family life is exhausting. I’m hoping to do the odd bit of riding as my sister has an event yard, I’d love to come back to it in a few years time when I’ve had another child and they’re both at school!”

Speaking about what it’s been like to return to the saddle, and to winning ways, after the birth of her first child Lucy said: “He was such a good baby and it was a dream whilst I was on maternity leave, he’d sleep in the corner whilst I rode. Now that he’s crawling and moving everywhere and doesn’t want to be in the pram for more than ten minutes none of it’s so easy! Getting back into it has been great, I’ve absolutely loved every minute.”

The elegant rider was quick to praise her trainer, who’s been a driving force behind her success, she concluded, “I train with Becky Moody and she’s been amazing throughout the whole thing, right from when we started four years ago. She’s just ten minutes down the road, I have weekly lessons and she rode her twice for me last week whilst I was at the wedding. She’s just been a massive help and support.”

Petplan Equine Medium Bronze Summer Area Festival Championship 
Winner: Violet Hawkins and DZL Royal Sunrise, 69.608% 
BD Youth starlet Violet Hawkins rode superbly in front of John Robinson, Alison Duck and Janet Surr to claim the Petplan Equine Medium Bronze Summer Area Festival Championship title on 69.608% with her mother Alex’s DZL Royal Sunrise.  

“He was a really good boy,” Violet said, full of praise for her lovely 12 year old gelding by Domingos Golden Surprise, “we’re still quite new to Medium level, we’ve been doing it for only six months. He was super, his canter work was on fire today – sometimes we call him pitter patter Paddy because he’s nice and slow but today it was just another level. I’ve been trying to get him more uphill and get his canter going, which is really was today.”

The Northamptonshire-based teen is a real professional inside and out of the white boards and relishes the chance to get arena time at the top events, “I don’t really get that nervous I just get excited and I want to d well. The more the occasion the more I try and rise to it.”

“This is my second time here,” Violet added speaking about the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championship experience, “I came in 2021. The atmosphere is amazing just like it is with the Winters as well.”

There’s no rest for the thirteen year old who now heads to Horse of the Year Show to pick up a ride in the showing arena, before turning her attention to the Cavago Associated Championships and Aintree High Profile, “I’m aiming to qualify the ponies for the Nationals next year, and we’re going to keep working at FEI Pony level with this one and Tom [Cruz III] as well.”

It was pony power all the way in the hotly contested class which saw former FEI Pony European Eventing Champion SF Detroit (Denver x Cap Cannedy) place second with Oscar Fitzgerald, with the gifted stallion now sadly for sale as Oscar progresses out of the FEI pony age category; whilst former Elementary Bronze Area Festival winners Hannah Macmillan and Brookeborough Lad claimed third with 68.774%.

Petplan Equine Medium Silver Freestyle Summer Area Festival Championship  
Winner: Victoria Homden and Olly, 70.899%

The popular duo of Victoria Homden and Olly returned to the winner’s circle as the sole combination to top the 70% barrier in a competitive Medium Silver Freestyle Area Festival Championship; in front of Lotte Olsen (E), Richard Baldwin (C) and Jane Peberdy (M) the winning pair scored 70.889% for their emotional freestyle performance.  

“It’s been a bit of an intense week! We finally got it right today in the Advanced Medium,” Victoria said about her test in under the indoor lights today, “I couldn’t get the timings right in the test for love nor money but I'm really pleased it all came together today. We hit the right points when we needed to change pace and it was really nice to be back in there [Arena UK arena].”

Victoria’s freestyle win held extra significance today as she rode not only for herself and Olly but for a great cause and person; “It’s a big thing this floorplan, it was done for my instructor who got diagnosed with cancer at the start of the year. The music is all of her favourite songs so it was really important to me this year that I got it right, I was really proud of that.” Victoria dedicated her win to Katharine Lewis, who received the all clear a few weeks ago, “this one’s for her, I hope we did her proud Olly.” Katherine’s family and friends selected her favourite music before sending to freestyle magician Gaynor Colbourne to work her magic.  

Speaking about her equally as magical equine partner, Victoria described his A-star personality: “He’s just so funny, he’s cheeky and he likes to test the water in every way! Everywhere we go we have to make sure everything is Olly-proofed. I couldn’t live without him, he’s so cheeky and lovely, he’s the golden child.”

Victoria concluded by talking about what’s next for the combination, who’ve achieved wins at no fewer than four Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, “We’re going to keep going at Advanced Medium, there’s still lots to work on there and we’ll try to keep moving up the levels – it just keeps getting harder doesn’t it!”

Second place belonged to Verity Franks with Daiquiris Jiggery Pokery, who scored 68.945%, with Hayley Ogden-Lackey taking the third spot on board Sandra Ogden’s Goldessa GLN with 68.834%.  

Petplan Equine Medium Silver Summer Area Festival Championship 
Winner: Jemima Upton and Centre Stage I, 69.657%

First time Area Festival combination, Jemima Upton and her mare Centre Stage I claimed the Medium Silver title in the evening sun at Arena UK. Previouslyy eventing up to Intermediate Level with the nine year old it’s been a wonderful experience at their first dressage championships. “I’m really thrilled, I’ve been eventing her since I started her as a four year old so it’s my first time aiming for something pure dressage. I thought I’d start with Petplan Equine Area Festivals and then hopefully try and go up the levels. It couldn’t have gone better!” Jemima told us.

No stranger to a prize giving after winning the Pony Club open Eventing Championships two years ago, they have loved the atmosphere of the dressage arena, “It’s been brilliant, what I love about it is there’s so many BD shows to get out to and get my qualifying scores. I have loved it.”

It was almost a forty strong class but they were awarded 69.65% from judges Joyce wood, Pam Bushell and Sue Staines. Telling us about her test, Jemima said, “I was really pleased with her, as she sometimes gets a bit of stage fright so I lose the energy that I want and have at home and in the warm-up. I managed to keep that, and she really came into her own and use herself much better. She stayed very level and there were no major mistakes from my half which is usually why we don’t get the good marks.”

Training with Paul Friday for over ten years, they are now located at his yard to focus solely on the dressage, “I’m a surveyor at Savills, I did a graduate scheme with them and have now done all of my exams. As I work full time, I am just trying to get the balance of life and work, so I’ve decided to stop the eventing for now just because it’s a full weekend and I’m running out of annual leave! Decided to go for dressage and I’m loving it.”

The mare is much loved by all at home and with another generation coming up through the ranks it’s a testament to her great personality, “She’s a dream and just so beautiful. We’ve bred some foals from her via embryo transfer, so we’ve got two three year old we’re just starting at the moment. They have really taken on her temperament which is amazing and are looking very smart, so you never know. Everyone always says you should sell her but you couldn’t buy another one like her.”

Now aiming for Advanced Medium as well as the Winter Regionals at Medium, there’s a bright dressage future for the pair, “It’s a good aim throughout the year, so you’ve always got something to set your goals for.”

Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Bronze Freestyle Summer Area Festival Championship 
Winner: Emma Woolliscroft and Just Magic BH, 69.708%

Emma Woolliscroft and Just Magic BH brought extra sparkle to the Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Bronze Freestyle Summer Area Festival Championship, securing the win with 69.708%.  

“I’m gobsmacked, I honestly can’t believe it,” Emma told BD after her prize giving moment in the spotlight, “I came to have a fun time, I’m just to happy to be here and then to win it, it’s amazing, I wasn’t expecting it!”  

“I was really happy with the test,” she continued, talking through her winning performance in front of Mary Robins, Claire Ballantyne and Kim Ratcliffe, “I did the music myself, it was a music test I did ten years ago for a Medium level horse but it’s always had a really special place in my heart because I feel its tells my story. When I qualified for the PSG I thought ‘stuff it’! I had a little bit to drink and I decided to enter a PSG music with no floorplan or music and then thought I’ll use my ‘Chicken Run’ music because I love it so much. So for the fact that we’re actually here, let alone winning, is amazing!”

An emotional Emma shared the story behind what makes her much so special to her; “My brother is severely disabled and my Mum and I have always had to everything on a shoestring. My mum works so hard and I feel like it tells the story of me and my brother. It’s happy but has sad bits too. It’s dedicated to my mum.”

Just Magic BH, known as ‘Jerry’ at home, is full of character and tried his very best for his rider today, “he has the best character and is cheeky but he tries his hardest even when he finds something difficult. He’s such a pleasure, he’s taught me a lot and I like to think I’m teaching him a lot now as well. He’s not done a prize giving before, he’s the reason he’s petrified, he’s a bit of a whimp!”

“I’ve got my own yard, I'm a full-time mum and I coach,” Emma explained about her life away from the competition arena, where she has the most inspiring outlook on coaching and supporting others, “I’m just your average person. I enjoy doing what I’m doing - with my teaching and yard I want a nice friendly atmosphere to support everybody and I’ve got such a nice bunch of liveries, they range from retired happy hackers to competitive riders and everyone supports each other. That was my mission when I started and I feel I’ve got that. With my teaching my slogan is ‘dressage is for everyone’ and that’s because I want to promote dressage for everyone, it doesn’t matter if your horse is spotty or a warmblood or a Welsh cob, it doesn’t matter. Everyone can do it and enjoy it, it’s meant to be fun.”

“It’s a wonderful show. I’ve loved it, I did Area Festivals on my previous mare and it’s such a lovely atmosphere because everyone is so friendly and supports each other. They’re all happy when people do well but also picking people up when they don’t because it’s horses at the end of the day. We all work super hard to get to where we are, everyone who’s been here well done because we all deserve to be here.”

Emma concluded by giving grateful thanks to those who’ve helped her on her journey, “I just want to say a huge thank you to my trainers Pammy Hutton, Matt Frost and Owen Cooper, they have helped me so much, and all of my support team – my grooms they’re amazing. This is just a part of it, there’s a lot in the background, farriers, vets, everyone. Also, my mother as I wouldn’t be where I am today without you.”

Second place went to Naomi Aguilar with the pint-sized polka dot powerhouse Whitehawk Dancing Fire on 68.417%, whilst former champion Fiona Newall and Fendy VCG completed the podium with 68.250%.  


Photos © Kevin Sparrow