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LeMieux National Championships: DAY ONE

last updated on September 15, 2017 12:53

LeMieux National Championships: DAY ONE

The 2017 LeMieux National Championships got underway today at Stoneleigh Park. A blustery but bright September day at the Warwickshire venue set the scene for a day of exciting competition. 

The first title of the Championships went to Buckinghamshire-based Jayne Turney in the Equine Construction Advanced Medium Silver. One of the last to go in the class, Jayne and Shirley Rixon’s seven-year-old German-bred son of Starnberg, Penhaligon’s Jupiter (pictured), scored 68.84% to pip second placed Lucy Norris to the post by just 0.1%. The pair have been on a roll, winning their Regional Championship at Bury Farm was an impressive 72.63%.

“He’s such a good horse to ride in the arena and today he was super, he just went in there and was a really good boy. I felt the canter work I rode a lot better than the trot but overall I was pleased with the test.”

Jayne and Jupiter, who train with Charlotte Dujardin, placed sixth in the Advanced Medium at this year’s NAF Five Star Winter Championships, so they arrived in good form to contest for the coveted title. “I thought I would have a good chance – you always like to hope, don’t you – I had an amazing session with Charlotte [Dujardin] yesterday and he was absolutely incredible. So although I was a little disappointed at first that he didn’t go as well today, it makes it even more exciting for what’s to come as he’s showing such promise.”

The dynamic duo met two years ago when owner Shirley contacted Jayne to see if she was interested in having a sit on a five-year-old she had recently imported from Germany and it was love at first sight. “I feel privileged to ride him, every time I sit on him I feel absolutely privileged,” exclaimed Jayne. “He finds everything so easy – almost a bit too easy, we need to remind ourselves to concentrate on the basics sometimes. I’d like to think we’d be heading towards PSG next year, which will be new for the two of us as I’ve never competed above Advanced Medium but I couldn’t think of a better horse to be doing it with.”

Back In Action Preliminary Silver

Cheshire rider Abigail Unwin helped to write the perfect story when she led from start to finish in the Back In Action Prelim Silver Championships. Riding Alison Unwin’s Arleys Dun Deal, Abigail was in bright and early this morning but the judges were very awake and clearly impressed to score them 73.51%. The duo set that benchmark and no one could match it so the title was theirs.

“He’s the kindest horse I’ve ever ridden. I decided that going first, I’d ride as boldly as I could and it really paid off. I thought ‘just go for it, you’ve nothing to lose’! He answered all the questions I threw at him. He’s a pleasure and I just love riding him,” said a delighted Abigail.

Combining her hobby with her job as full time Marketing Manager for Zebra Products, Abigail shares ‘Drummer’ with her mum but has spent more time riding him recently as her mum Alison broke her arm earlier this year so has been side lined. Drummer, an eye-catching chocolate dun, is a real family horse. “We saw him advertised and we went to see him, tried him and bought him between us all,” explained Abigail. Eventing was his original career choice but the British-bred sport horse by Burnock Unique was none too keen on the cross country phase so dressage has been the focus.

“We set out to qualify and got to the Regionals where we finished fourth. We then got a wild card to get here which was exciting. We feel a bit like amateurs in a professional world but we’ve really enjoyed every minute of it all!” said Abigail.

Childéric Saddles Elementary Silver

Twenty-five-year-old Holly Colgate-Hardaway from Hindhead in Surrey headed a large, high class field to make the Childéric Saddles Elementary Silver her own. Partnered by her mum, Zoe Colgate-Sopps’, Dalvangs Lorenzo (Bogegardens Laurino x Bogegardens Lantano), Holly achieved a super score of 71.20% in a class where the top four breached the 70% barrier.

“This means so much to me,” smiled Holly after the prize-giving, clearly delighted with Lorenzo who was soon relaxing in the sun after his lap of honour.

During their performance earlier this afternoon, conditions were blustery and the Danish gelding, who stands over 17 hands, gave Holly a heart-stopping moment as he spooked at A after a leg yield, “It’s really windy and he [Lorenzo] doesn’t like things around his legs. The flower pots were blowing, so he went to stop and spin.”

However, the good-looking horse quickly regained his composure to produce some of his best ever work. “The medium trot after the spook was amazing! He’s always been good behind but he’s just recently learnt to reach in front. And our give-and-retake felt incredible!” said Holly.

Holly and Lorenzo’s performance not only impressed the judges but the Radio Nationals team too who commented on the horse’s “well-oiled joints”.

Ten-year-old Lorenzo was found by Holly’s grandad, Terry Colgate, who’s a driving force behind the family’s passion for dressage. Lorenzo was one of three horses imported by Steven Newton, “We chose Lorenzo because he’s just such a lovely boy,” said Holly’s mum Zoe. “He was backed at six as he was growing so fast, and has been competing for two years. He has so much movement and talent, yet is so laid back. He really is a gentle giant and thinks he’s a lead-rein pony!”

Holly is trained by Zoe “and always will be” – a formula which clearly works. The whole family shares their passion for the sport, including Holly’s twelve-year-old twin brothers Jared and Jake Sopp dubbed “the super-grooms” and Holly’s boyfriend Sam Cooke who was tied up at work but came out of a meeting to hear the news.

Monarch Equestrian Intermediate II

This year it was Charlotte Dujardin and Hawtins Delicato to win the prestigious Monarch Equestrian Intermediate II Gold Championship. The famed class has proven to be a stepping stone to Grand Prix success; last year’s winner Carinsio (Becky Moody) enjoyed a successful season in 2017 at the top level whilst second placed horse Don Carissimo (Gareth Hughes) earned a place on this year’s GB team travelling out to Gothenburg for the European Championships.

The future certainly looks bright for ‘Del’ who scored 72.03% after a fantastic test piloted as expertly as usual by Charlotte. This win continues an impressive run of form for the pair who were also victorious at the Hickstead CDI in July.

‘I was super happy with his changes, trot half passes and extensions,’ said Charlotte about her test, ‘he’s just a little green still so the transitions into the piaffe weren’t great today. It’s only his second Inter II so I can’t complain at all, he’s very talented.’

Charlotte narrowly avoided disaster and showed her skills to regain Del’s attention after a blip just before her test, ‘He felt great in the warm up but he didn’t want to go into the arena.’

The nine-year-old son of Diamond Hit will be aimed at Grand Prix next year with a view to Carl Hester taking over the ride. Carl has previously said that the ultimate goal will be the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo but for now all focus is on next year’s World Equestrian Games in Tryon.

‘I’ve done all the work!’ Charlotte explained, ‘I keep trying to persuade him to get on!’

Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold Championships

Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle once again showed their class and blew away the competition in the Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold Championships to add another title to their growing collection. The pair danced their way around the Horse Health Arena to earn an immense 78.03% from judges Gwyneth Lewis, Clive Halsall, Maria Colliander, David Trott and Jennie Loriston-Clarke.

The eight-year-old mare by Fidermark is building up an impressive reputation at the advanced levels and looks set for international success when she makes her Grand Prix debut in 2018. ‘I’m really happy,’ Charlotte said about her win with Freestyle, ‘She’s completely amazing to ride and she just has everything ready to go. It’s just a matter now of keeping her on track as she’s still only eight.’

The reigning Olympic Champion also managed to finish in second place with En Vogue – a horse who’s not been easy throughout the early stages of his career.

Talking about her Reserve Champion she said, ‘I bought him as a wild three-year-old who we couldn’t even catch in the stable’ She continued, ‘He’s by Jazz and I’ve always wanted one; I love a challenge!’

Discussing her day further Charlotte explained that she was particularly happy with the results considering the conditions, ‘The atmosphere was really electric and so windy, there were a lot of flapping flags. It was En Vogue’s worst nightmare.’

The rest of the week is a busy one for Charlotte as she is set to compete in six more classes. About her exciting string she said, ‘I really enjoy them all and they are all completely different. The Nationals are great for getting all the inexperienced ones out, it’s a really good event for gaining exposure.’

For full results click here.

Photo credit: Kevin Sparrow.