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LeMieux National Dressage Championships: DAY TWO

last updated on September 19, 2016 12:51

LeMieux National Dressage Championships: DAY TWO

The Dodson & Horrell Novice Gold was billed as one of the hottest competitions of the week and this championship did not disappoint with all bar four of the 32 starters breaking the 67% barrier. Charlotte Dujardin added to her tally with the stunning Mount St John VIP, owned by the Mount St John stud.

The five-year-old mare kept her focus despite being caught in one of the morning’s torrential downpours and a score of 76.88% left the pair a clear three percent ahead of the field.

“I rode her as a three-year-old in Germany and fell in love with her,” revealed the Olympic gold medallist, who subsequently started producing the daughter of Donnerhall last year. “She didn’t compete as a four-year-old, but she’s amazing and exactly my type of horse; she’s elastic, energetic and has an incredible work ethic.”

The new competition structure now allows top riders to contest the Novice Championships and Charlotte was one of several stars taking advantage of this. “It’s fantastic to have something like this to aim for with the young horses; it’s such good experience for them,” she said. In fact, the last time Charlotte contested a championship at this level was in 2007, when she won the Novice Open title here on Valegro.

KBIS Para Dressage Gold Championships 

It was a golden morning for Para Dressage as four gleaming chestnuts lined up as victors of their respective KBIS-sponsored championships.

Star performer – and the winner overall – was Susanna Wade, who took the combined Grade 1a and 1b Championship on a score of 75.65% with D’Artagnan III. “I was shocked when I saw the score; it was a better result than I could have wished for,” said a delighted Susanna, who broke her neck and was left paralysed following a car accident in 1991. She subsequently rode side-saddle for five years before taking up Para Dressage. The Diamond Hit-sired D’Artagnan, known as “Eddie”, was found in Denmark by Para Dressage Performance coach, Michel Assouline.

Erin Orford topped off a fruitful season by successfully defending her KBIS Para Gold Grade II title on Annabel Whittet’s Dimaggio mare, Dior. “This year she’s really come into her own. She’s a typical, sensitive chestnut mare who knows what she likes, but she’s a lovely person and wants to please,” said Erin, who was pleased with her score of 71.48% given a rather stop-start preparation. “Until two weeks ago we were all packed and ready for Rio,” explained Erin, who as non-travelling reserve had to be on stand-by. “We then had to very quickly redirect our focus, so I’m really pleased that she’s come here and shown what she can do.”

Izzy Palmer rode with maturity beyond her years to take the KBIS Para Gold Grade III title on 71.42% with Jackie Walker’s evergreen 19-year-old, Pinocchio. Izzy, 15, took on “Noki” in January this year from Paralympic champion Sophie Wells.
“Sophie was the one who inspired me to get into dressage after London,” revealed Izzy, who was subsequently talent-spotted by her idol at the 2013 Para Home International. “She then became my mentor and trainer, which has been incredible and I am so grateful to both her and Jackie for allowing me to ride Noki. Sophie has even given me two lessons from Rio via Skype while I’ve been here.”

Charlotte Cundall and The Chenko Artist completed the line-up after taking top honours in the Grade IV Championship. The 15-year-old former event horse pipped his stable-mate and Charlotte’s second ride, KBIS Starchaser – another ex-eventer— to the post on a score of 68.65%. “I was thrilled with them both; they’re completely different horses to ride, but they both went in and did their thing.”

Dodson & Horrell Novice Silver 

Charlie Sawyer and Chico Too are celebrating today after their second win at the LeMieux National Championships. Charlie and ‘Chico’, his mum Sarah’s towering son of Contendro, are at the top of their form adding the Dodson & Horrell Novice Silver title to yesterday’s Childéric Saddles Elementary Silver. The pair’s confident and expressive performance was awarded 77.37%, the highest score of the Championships so far.

“I never expected to do this. For him to win two - I don’t know how to explain it - It’s unbelievable!” said Charlie, clearly delighted. “I knew in the test that it was good and was smiling coming down the last centre line. Everything happened – it felt a really good, solid test.”

Chico was undoubtedly at home in the arena and was in no way fazed by the blustery conditions at the Stoneleigh venue, improving even further on his super performance the previous day. “He’s always better on the second day, once he’s had a chance to familiarise himself. He doesn’t show nervousness by spooking, he just goes within himself a bit. He always allows me to put my leg on.

“He’s one in a million with his attitude,” said Charlie fondly. “He’s very responsive for a big, solid horse and stays nicely sensitive. Today he felt together and we were able to give a bit more as he was rounder, more supple, and more confident

TopSpec Medium Silver

Ashley Jenkins and Salsa Hit have won the TopSpec Medium Silver at the LeMieux National Championships. Ashley (24) and the beautiful seven-year-old son of Samba Hit III, who claimed the Elementary Restricted title here last year, scored a super 72.03%. First to go after the mid-way break, Ashley and the elegant gelding produced a test full of lightness and expression to take the lead which proved un-catchable.

“It feels amazing to win again,” smiled Ashley who won the Elementary Restricted with this horse at the Nationals last year. “He’s so expressive and light on his feet, he felt amazing in there today especially his simple changes and medium trots. They felt really good.”

Ashley, who works as a stable rider for Dan Greenwood, bringing on the young horses, bought the athletic black gelding from Margaret Lister as a three-year-old. “I loved him from day one and he’s taught me a huge amount.”

Ashley enjoyed a rapturous applause during his lap of honour from the enthusiastic crowd which included his home support team. ”I’ve got my whole family here, even both my non-horsey brothers are here, and my little sister – it’s brilliant!”

Saracen Horse Feeds Inter I Gold

The Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Gold Championship featured some of the best Small Tour combinations in Britain right now and according to the five judges at Stoneleigh today, Michael Eilberg (picured on Fuerst Sinclair) and Sa Coeur proved they were top of the pile. Scoring an impressive 73.61%, Michael and the nine-year-old gelding – owned by Elena Knyaginichen – topped long-time leaders Tom Goode and Dior III (72.39%) to claim the top spot.

“It was really nice, very consistent from start to finish,” announced Michael. “It always feels best to win on a test that was very clean, he didn’t put a foot wrong in any of the movements and he felt really happy and nice to ride.”

Having only started competing together this year, Michael and the Sir Donnerhall gelding have dominated the competition, missing out on topping the leader board just twice this year. “He’s a very reliable horse; he’s done everything I’ve ever asked from him. He’s the sweetest horse in the stable. He’s one of those; he’s not a baby but he still has a very kid-like and fun personality – it’s really nice to have.

For today’s Saracen Horse Feeds Freestyle Gold Championship, Michael and Sa Coeur will be dancing to the same floor plan and music used when they scored 77.97% at Roosendaal CDI. With music by Gary Patterson, Michael will be looking to wow the crowds to not only be in with a chance of claiming the Freestyle title, but also being crowned Supreme Champion. But with the top 14 from the Inter I qualifying through to the Freestyle, he’ll be facing some stiff competition! Today is definitely going to be a hot one!

All photos from

For full results click here