Shearwater & 7YO Semi-Finals: young horses impress at Hartpury
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The hotly contested Shearwater Young Horse Championship semi-finals for four, five and six-year-olds, and BD Seven-Year-Old semi-final at the NAF Five Star Hartpury Festival of Dressage proved the ideal showcase for riders to present their promising youngsters.
In the Shearwater semi-finals, combinations rode a dressage test designed to give each age group maximum confidence and security in the arena with the top three in each scoring 7.0 or above, qualifying for the championships at Somerford Park in September.
On her last outing before departing for Tokyo, Charlotte Dujardin and Mon Amour (Martinez x De Niro), known as Monet, a smart dark bay German-bred gelding which she bought untried from a video and co-owns with Peter Belshaw, were clear winners in the Shearwater Four-year-olds semi-final, which attracted 18 quality entries.
This stylish combination (pictured above) impressed judges Richard Baldwin and Cara Whitham, achieving 9s for both way of going and general impression to win on 86.00%.
In the Shearwater Five-year-olds, Georgia Stokes and her own KWPN gelding SOS San So Amorous, by Soirée D’Amour, headed the 17-strong field in front of judges Maria Eilberg and Anne Prain from France to score 82.80%.
Bought from Mark and Shelley Bosanko in Devon as a three-year-old, “Weeman”, a full sister to Diamond Hit, is a diminutive 15.2hh gelding who Georgia describes as “a big, little horse” .
“I call him Mr Perfect because he’s so brave and so reliable,” says Georgia who owns and runs SOS Competition Horses in St Austell, Cornwall.
It was an emotional Premier League comeback for Georgia who tragically lost her much loved 15-year-old international Grand Prix partner Talented Mr Ripley, who she’d owned and trained since a yearling, almost exactly a year ago.
“When Ripley died, I thought I’d never ride competitively again, but then I saw San So Amorous online and just had to go and see him. At the age of 52, I never believed I could start with a youngster again, but although he’s goey and bright, he’s not sharp and feels fantastic to sit on.
“At the end of our test I cried and then cried again when I saw the score,” says Georgia, who credits Ryan Shannon and Calum Whitworth for their support and encouragement, as well as her trainer Carl Hester. “This horse has saved me because after Ripley died, I feared I might have been a ‘one trick pony’ and never thought I’d be back among my peers at a major show, but now I feel it was all meant to be and hopefully he’ll be my next international horse, so I’m really excited about our future together.”
The Shearwater Six-year-olds, judged by Isobel Wessels and Michael Osinski from the USA, was won by Greg Sims and British-bred 16.2hh bay gelding Waverley Fellini (Furstenball x Sandro Hit) who he has owned with partner Stena Hoerner since a four-year-old.
They produced a fluent, balanced test to win with 83.40% in the 16-strong class of talent.
Bred by Sara Longworth at Warwickshire’s Waverley Stud, ”Leni” is clearly a horse with a bright future having already won the five-year-old Shearwater Championships last year, as well as Novice Gold at the Winter Championships.
“Leni is a lovely character who never has a bad day and always puts a smile on your face,” says Greg, a former Young Professionals Award winner, who previously worked as a rider for the Eilberg family for six years and now runs a training yard, GSH Dressage in North Wales together with Stena.
“He’s an elegant, modern type with a strong back end and also naturally very talented so he feels easy to ride and train and it’s a privilege to work with a horse like this.”
This talented combination, trained by Michael Eilberg and Matt Frost, also went on to win the next day’s Six-year-old World Breeding Selection Trial on 86.200% judged by Isobel Wessels and Stephen Clarke and will be heading to Verden next month.
The BD Seven-year-old semi-finals, saw 15 combinations line up to ride through Advanced Medium 96 for the top three to qualify (those scoring 65% and above) for the Championships at Somerford Park in September.
Becky Moody and Jack Diamond (Electron x Diamond Hit) - pictured above) impressed judges Stephen Clarke and France’s Alban Tissot to storm ahead with an outstanding score of 88.00%, earning 9.5 for his trot and 9s for his walk and perspective, which looks at the potential as a young dressage horse, standard of training on the basis of the “scale of training” according to age.
Having not done much as a five and six-year-old and only starting this year’s campaign in April, Becky says the impressive 17.1hh bay gelding, owned by Jo Cooper with Pat and David Webster, began his test feeling a “little bit wobbly and lacking in confidence, but he just got better and better as the test went along”.
Named after the 19th century prohibition gangster who shares his nickname, ‘Legs’ who has a “super-sweet temperament and spectacular movement” came to Moody Dressage as a just-backed three-year-old stallion showing his early promise and talent by winning his first ever BD four-year-old class at Crow Wood and coming runner up at the Hartpury Shearwater semi-finals in 2018.
“Legs was quite tricky as a youngster mainly because he was quite weak when we first got him and being so huge moving and scopey, initially he tended to hold himself tight in his body, but with the help of David Hunt and my sister Hannah, who rode him for me a bit early on, we’ve come through the other side and now potentially I think he’s one of the best horses I’ve got,” said Becky, who has qualified Jack Diamond for the regionals at Elementary, Medium and Advanced Medium.
“He finds compression work easy, has a fantastic talent for piaffe and is a complete sweetheart so I’m looking forward to the future, with an ultimate aim to produce him as a top Grand Prix horse.”
Looking ahead, it will be exciting to see where this early success takes these young superstars as they begin their dressage careers and enjoy the journey to top level success.
Shearwater semi finals 4-year-olds
1. Mon Amour (Charlotte Dujardin), 86.00%
2. Magic Dream (Anna Burns), 83.00%
3. Milano III (Kerry Mackin), 82.60%
Shearwater semi finals 5-year-olds
1. SOS San So Amorous (Georgia Stokes), 82.80%
2. Ferguson Himself (Paul Friday), 81.80%
3. Loves Black STH (Georgie Roden), 80.00%
Shearwater semi finals 6-year-olds
1. Waverley Fellini (Greg Sims), 83.40%
2. Swanmore Dantina (Sadie Smith), 82.20%
3. Encore (Michael Eilberg), 79.20%
4. Echo IV (Ruth Hole), 78.40%
BD Young Dressage Horse 7-year-olds
1. Jack Diamond (Becky Moody), 88.00%
2. Hawtins Lirica (Sara-Jane Lanning), 85.80%
3. Odette (Charlotte Dujardin), 83.20%
Photo © Kevin Sparrow