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Day One - Espayo National Championships

last updated on September 14, 2012 08:41

Day One - Espayo National Championships

The first day of the Espayo National Dressage Championships saw wins for three up-and-coming teenage riders and two seasoned campaigners including Olympic gold-medallist Carl Hester.

Fresh from the glory of the London Games, Carl claimed his 59th National title by adding the Winergy Prix St Georges to the extensive list. Riding Aram Gregory’s enormous Dances with Wolves, Carl captivated the crowd with a masterful display. Even the background music was apt as Berlin’s ‘Take my Breath Away’ played as Carl rode some breath-taking extended trot work.

“He’s a horse with lots of energy and can get quite hot but he’s fantastic – certainly a potential Olympic ride. He can be nervous so taking him in there today was a big thing but he’s getting used to shows like this. The judges do throw marks at him and over 74% is a great score.” This win follows several international small tour victories for Carl and the German-bred 10-year-old, formally ridden by Aram’s late wife Jane. “Jane thought the world of him so it’s a real milestone in his career and it’s exciting for Aram to see him come on.”

“Aram is in no hurry to push him; he can do all the grand prix movements but until I feel he is confident in the arena we’ll take our time; we’ll take him up when he’s ready.”

Carl now has tomorrow’s Dressage International Intermediate I to look forward to: “I’m going to give him more time ahead of tomorrow’s test. I’ll be up early to do some relaxation work – he has an active brain and 45 minutes warm up just wasn’t quite enough today. He’s won at Inter I level abroad this season with 75+% so I do have high hopes. Really, it’s not all about the score but to ride him where he feels relaxed and not stressed is the aim.”

Suregrow Advanced Medium Restricted
Prestbury-based dressage rider Chloe Vell, 14, put in an assured performance this morning to become the first champion crowned at 2012’s Nationals.The stylish young rider won the Suregrow Advanced Medium Restricted, against a field of senior riders, with her relatively new ride, Kaja Di Valentina, an eight-year-old Trakehner mare by K2. “I’m very happy,” said a delighted Chloe. “This is my first time at the Nationals so I’m really pleased we did well.”

Chloe has owned and ridden the elegant 16.1hh black mare for just seven months – her first horse after a successful international pony career. “I was looking for a horse as I was growing too tall for ponies. We saw her advertised on the BD web classifieds and, as there was a lot of interest, we set off at 5am to see her. As soon as I sat on her, I knew she was the right one - she gave such a good feeling.”

“She’s quite hot and feisty but she focuses on me in the arena. Her work felt good today, with the trot and canter half-passes being highlights.” Talking about her future plans Chloe said: "In October we’re going to Biarritz for a Junior international and we hope to be competing PSG next year.”

Centaur Position Perfect Preliminary Championship
Young rider Daisy Coakley (19) from Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, claimed a National title on her first visit to the Nationals.
Daisy rode the promising five-year-old KWPN mare Cleopatra II to victory in the Centaur Position Perfect Preliminary Championships as they posted a score of 72.12%, over 2% clear of the rest of the field.

Daisy and Cleopatra II have only been a partnership since the beginning of the year, yet have had great success, placed every time out since April. Cleopatra II (stable name, Daya) is by Dayano and is owned by Judy Firmston-Williams. Daisy was really pleased with their performance: “I am thrilled to win. She was just so relaxed considering this is her first time at such a big show.” Although, she is only five years old, Cleopatra II seemed perfectly at ease in the arena. Daisy said “She is so good, she never spooks. She was a little scared yesterday in the heavy rain storm and she also managed to put her head through our lorry roof on the way here, but she seems to have put it all behind her!” Daisy and Cleopatra II will go on to contest the Dodson & Horrell Novice Restricted class tomorrow.

Second and third places both went to young Scottish riders, based at the same yard in Aberdeenshire, both riding British-bred mares. Emma Murray and MFS Caliana were second with 70.15% and Kerri Wright and Ultimate took third place with 69.24%.

Stretch & Flex Elementary Restricted Championship
It was a case of third time lucky for Hampshire rider Hannah Bates when she took victory in the Stretch & Flex Elementary Restricted Championship on her third trip to the Nationals.

18 year old Hannah, based at Kings Somborne, partnered herchestnut Westphalian Essentially M & S in a close competition to win by just 0.4%. The combination has qualified for the past three years and last year they came close to a title, finishing second in the Novice Championship. They’ve been together for three years and the horse is by the renowned German pony stallion FS Don’t Worry. “He was meant to be a pony but luckily for me he grew too big! He’s a horse but with a pony brain which is perfect. I was quite a nervous rider when I took him on but he’s really given me confidence and now I can tell him things instead of the other way round,” said a delighted Hannah.

Hannah is just out of the Junior ranks but is looking forward to attempting to get into the Young Rider frame. “We’re hoping to give it a go but I know to start I won’t be competitive for a while but we’re getting better and better so I’m looking forward to it. I owe this title to my trainers Roland Tong and Ben St John-James as without them, we’d never have got this far.”

Hannah admitted that Essentially M and S is a softy at home and loves kisses but his favourite treat is Rich Tea biscuits!
Giselle Hyland riding Bon Amin finished second with Emily Robinson and Lorna Rowley’s Dream World in third.

Horse Health Intermediate II Championship
South Yorkshire rider, Becky Moody, 32, rode Julie Lockey’s Caluna, a 10-year-old Belgian-bred mare by Saras Von’T Gestelhof to win the Horse Health Intermediate II Championship with a score of 68.92%.

“I was really pleased with how she went today,” said Becky. “It was a mistake-free test and was secure for where she’s at. It’s her first nationals, her first season at the level and I think that if I’d asked for more we could have been in trouble. It was a good learning curve for me.”

Caluna, who has been at the Moody’s yard since a three-year-old, is normally ridden by Becky’s sister Hannah, however Becky took over the ride in February as Hannah is expecting her first baby in few weeks’ time. “I’d previously done a bit with Caluna and as Hannah and I work very much together, I already knew the horse well.”

“She has real talent for piaffe and passage and a fabulous temperament. We hope to take her big tour next year. Whether I’ll keep the ride remains to be seen,” laughed Becky, “It all depends whether Hannah tries to steal her back!”


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