Somerford Premier League: Hester and Fame take Grand Prix top spot
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Top talent was on display at Somerford Park Premier League in Cheshire (26 – 28 May 2023) with Carl Hester dominating the Grand Prix with his two talented rides and Charlotte Dujardin returning from maternity leave demonstrating she’s not lost any of her competitive edge.
Carl Is the in enviable position of having two top Grand Prix prospects as the season moves forward toward European Championship team selection. It was the Bigwood family’s Fame XX (pictured at Wellington CDI3*) which edged out his own and Sandra Biddlecombe, Charlotte Dujardin and Lady Anne Evans’ En Vogue to take the winners sash with a three per cent margin at Wellington. Both horses are scoring excellently at the moment and at Hickstead recently Fame (Bordeaux x Rhodium) won both international Grands Prix and Vogue won the Premier League Grand Prix class.
This was Carl and Fame’s seventh outing together and seventh consecutive win. “I think everyone knows how much I love this horse,” said Carl. “I’ve been using the Premier Leagues as training shows as I get to know him. Somerford is a brilliant venue to educate horses – you hack to the arena and there’s a lot going on.
“Fame was lovely in the test. Every time I do a Grand Prix on him, I come out saying it’s the best he’s done. He was soft, easy to ride and pretty much mistake free. He’s a very kind, generous horse and I’m lucky to be forming a partnership with him.”
Somerford was Charlotte Dujardin’s second excursion after giving birth to daughter Isabella and her young mares did her proud. Alive And Kicking (All At Once x Fürst Piccolo), who is the current reserve PSG Gold National Champion, won her first Inter II with 77.99%. Charlotte bought ‘Audrey’ from Sweden as a four-year-old from a video and her faith in the talented mare is paying off.
Charlotte won an Inter I and a PSG (Prix St Georges) class with Carl Hester and Peter Belshaw’s Times Kismet (Ampere x Lord Leatherdale) with super scores north of 76%. This was the mare’s first outing since the National Championships where they were crowned Advanced Medium Gold Champions.
Anne-Marie Cowan and Woodcroft Royal Charter won their first Grand Prix Special, with the judges marking them 9 for their extended walk and 8s for the one-tempi changes.
Davy Harvey won the PSG classes on Friday and Monday with Judy Peploe’s 10-year-old Don Frederico gelding, Diamond Blue. “I’ve been riding him for just under two years and this was his third attempt at PSG,” explained Davy. “He’s taken to it really well and is a talented horse who doesn’t find the physical work difficult. I always have to be positive and encouraging with him, as if he thinks it’s hard work, he’ll have a strop!” The pair have now got their international qualifying scores so Davy will continue to give him experience at PSG this summer with the hope of being selected for a CDI in the future.
Fiona Brennan was delighted with Lucy and Tom Cliff’s Viva Las Vegas, a stunning Vitalis eight-year-old who won the Advanced Medium 92. The talented gelding had lost confidence at the bigger shows so Fiona, who works for Daneswood Dressage, has been getting him out to a number of them to build his confidence. The plan seems to be working as this was his first Premier League win.
“He’s the nicest horse to ride but he was overwhelmed at the big shows,” explained Fiona. “If he can just take a breath, he’s the nicest horse to ride. He wants to please so much, he overtries and he hates it when he makes mistakes. He’s got a fantastic brain.”
Becky Moody won the international 6yo young horse class with Magic Dream (Governer x Swarovski) and the national 7yo and Advanced Medium 98 with Lancelot BS.
Jo Cooper’s Magic Dream (‘Shroom’) has been produced by Becky since a three-year-old and both she and Becky’s rider Anna Burns have had great success with her. She is currently the Medium Gold National Champion.
“I’m really excited about her. She’s very special with a lovely temperament and good engine,” commented Becky. “The international class was a bit of an ask as her flying changes are still a bit green. She managed a nice one in one direction and a green one in the other.”
Lancelot (Dreamboy x Lancet) is owned by Jo Cooper and Anne Moody and was bred by Julie Lockey. “He’s showing a lot of talent for piaffe and passage and just needs to get a little bit stronger. He has lovely paces and is a very elegant horse. He was pretty sharp as a young horse but now turned into a horse with a super temperament who is good to work with.”
In the Inter I classes, Sarah Higgins and Sarah Rao’s Geniaal edged out Becky Edwards and Dita Von Teese on the first day but Becky came back with a vengeance on the Sunday to win with a super score of 73.53%.
Sofia Games has only been partnered with WS Jackson for six weeks but is already making strong progress. The pair won both Pony Team and Individual tests with 71%-plus scores. It was the pair’s third competitive outing together and Sofia has been given the ride by his previous rider, Lauren Geraghty, until after the Pony European Championships.
“It’s rare to find a pony with his talent with such a super temperament,” said Sofia who trains with Maddy Frewin. “He’s very rideable and wonderfully trained. All the work Lauren did is really showing.”
Ella-Grace Dovey is enjoying her first year in Children classes with 15-year-old Flaviano who she started riding a year ago. She won the Team Test with 72.32% and also trains with Maddy Frewin.
“He’s very responsive and tries his best,” commented Ella. “He’s always kind and looks after me. The best part of his tests were his leg yields and centre line and we’ve been working hard on those.”
Victory in the Junior tests went to Isabella Caldwell and Don Geniro, who finished eighth at the 2016 Olympics with Chinese rider, Alex Hua Tian. “He’s definitely a retired eventer now,” said Isabella. “Jumping was always his least favourite phase. These were our best scores so far. He’s certainly a character – he has his own toy monkey which travels with him in the lorry!”
The Young Rider classes were split between Hermione Tottman and Exquisite and Lilah Gibbs and Dude III.
The highest score of the show was achieved by Robyn Smith and Gentle Caledonia with a whopping 84.8% in the 6yo young horse class. Robyn bought ‘Gentle Gerry’ as a foal from Reay Campbell’s Caledonia Stud and backed him during lockdown.
“He’s been a dream – he’s so well named,” commented Robyn who has only done about ten shows with him. “He’s not done much for a six-year-old. He’s quite a giant and can be a bit introverted. He’s starting to trust me now and realise he can show off in the arena.”
Kirstie Clarke also passed the 80% barrier to win the 4yo young horse class with Orlando Vroom (Vivaldi x Ungaro), a KWPN licensed stallion owned by Sue Sutton.
“He’s beautiful!” enthused Kirstie who is training him with the help of Becky Moody. “He’s got an exceptional amount of talent and is also lovely to deal with. This was only second show and his first outdoor show with us. It’s a big ask for a young stallion but I couldn’t fault him at all. He always gets exceptional scores for his canter and he also has a really good walk.”
Just 0.8% shy of 80% were Alicia Lee and Della Ballerina (Destacado x Weltmeyer) in the 5yo international young horse class. This gorgeous chestnut mare has had a stellar start to the season with five out of six winning tests so far.
Andrew Hackett admits that his KBIS 5yo young horse winner, Secret Obsession (Secret x Londonderry) was a bit of gamble when he bought him as a two-year-old from Germany via a video during lockdown. “He hasn’t done a lot of competing but he had a good run last year. It was a strong young horse class. Sid has three fabulous paces – a good trot, a really good canter and his walk is a highlight. He’s very consistent and growing in confidence. When he gets into the arena, he shows himself the best he can.
“I’ve done all the training myself” said Andrew who is a trainer and runs a livery yard near Lytham St Annes. “He’s a super modern type and I think he’ll go up the levels.”
Jade Whitelaw travelled nine hours from Aberdeen to win the 7yo international class with Late Night (Gunner KS x Rousseau) on 74%. ‘Roodi’ only learnt the canter pirouettes and tempi changes included in this difficult test the month before, so the intention was to do the show for experience. “We don’t have many shows with a big atmosphere up here,” explained Jade who works full-time as a process engineer. “He picked up the new movements quickly. He’s pretty trainable and very promising for the future.”
The weather was on side, making for a lovely show. Congratulations to everyone who took part and thanks to the organisers, judges, stewards, scorers and volunteers for all their hard work.
Results: top three
Friday 26 May
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
1. Sarah Higgins and Geniaal, 72.94%
2. Rebecca Edwards and Dita Von Teese, 71.72%
3. Emma Jablonski and Higgens van de Uilenhoek, 70.54%
Bret Willson Dressage International Advanced Medium 92
1. Fiona Brennan and Viva Las Vegas, 68.92%
2. Morgan Ray Haerr and Floran, 68.06%
3. Henry Boswell and Finest Dream, 67.93%
TopSpec Medium 73
1. Sarah Wilkinson and Ji Alda, 73.82%
2. Joanna Jackson and Faside Fürst Jewel, 71.62%
3. Kirstie Clarke and Powered by Fürst Impression, 70.88%
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
1. Davy Harvey and Diamond Blue, 70.78%
2. Mark Forrest and Flavio B, 70.25%
3. Jane Critchley and Tantoni Dallaglio, 69.90%
Stübben Intermediate II
1. Charlotte Dujardin and Alive and Kicking, 77.99%
2. Becky Moody and AB Barroco, 70.29%
3. Becky Moody and James Bond, 69.02%
KBIS Young Dressage Horse 4yo
1. Kirstie Clarke and Orlando Vroom C, 81.60%
2. Greg Sims and Devonport Dancer T, 78.80%
3. Greg Sims and MSJ Swing Musik, 78.20%
KBIS Young Dressage Horse 5yo
1. Andrew Hackett and Secret Obsession, 79.00%
2. Alex Browett and Namasté, 77.80%
3. Kirstie Clarke and GF Danseuse, 76.00%
KBIS Young Dressage Horse 6yo
1. Robyn Smith and Gentle Caledonia, 84.80%
2. Jayden Brown and Willinga Park Miana, 78.80%
3. Freya Metters and Hoghton Maverick, 75.60%
Saturday 27 May
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
1. Charlotte Dujardin and Times Kismet, 78.73%
2. Rebecca Edwards and Laerke Stensvang, 72.75%
3. Spencer Wilton and Woodcroft Django Mon Ami, 71.52%
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
1. Charlotte Dujardin and Times Kismet, 76.76%
2. Ottilie Bardsley and Hawtins Soave, 70.25%
3. Mark Forrest and Flavio B, 69.85%
KBIS Young Dressage Horse 7yo
1. Becky Moody and Lancelot BS, 71.95%
2. Gillian Davison and Llorente, 69.39%
3. Fiona Brennan and Leroy, 68.78%
Young Rider Team Test
1. Lilah Gibbs and Dude III, 69.80%
2. Ruby Hughes and World Exclusive, 67.60%
3. India Durman-Mills and Escade, 67.30%
Children on Horses Team Test
1. Ella-Grace Dovey and Flaviano, 72.32%
2. Violet Hawkins and Glenlichid Fair Un Square, 70.55%
3. Emily Sheldon and Wadacres Wee Pocket Rocket, 70.35%
Pony Team Test
1. Sofia Games and WS Jackson, 71.33%
2. Demi Howard-Cartwright and Fin C WE, 69.95%
3. Evie Head and Brouwershaven’s Leonie, 67.95%
LeMieux Grand Prix
1. Carl Hester and Fame, 77.98%
2. Carl Hester and En Vogue, 74.54%
3. Alexander Harrison and MSJ Top Secret, 68.67%
Junior Team Test
1. Isabella Caldwell and Don Geniro, 70.10%
2. Ruby Hughes and Classic Goldstrike, 69.90%
3. Morgan Ray Haerr and Floran, 69.75%
Grand Prix 16-25
1. Camille Audo and Behroez, 66.90%
2. Bridget Tate and Daltrey, 65.51%
3. Tyla Schou and Dennis DeNiro, 63.21%
Sunday 28 May
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
1. Rebecca Edwards and Dita Von Teese, 73.53%
2. Harriet Ellis and Camelot’s Black Knight, 67.65%
3. Ruth Edge and Jolene, 67.45%
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
1. Davy Harvey and Diamond Blue, 70.93%
2. Fiona Brennan and Gestion, 70.44%
3. Spencer Wilton and Woodcroft Django Mon Ami, 70.39%
BD International Young Horse FEI Young Horse Preliminary 5yo
1. Alicia Lee and Della Ballerina, 79.20%
2. Kirstie Clarke and Nureno, 79.00%
3. Greg Sims and Walnuts Zebadee, 76.60%
Junior Individual Test
1. Isabella Caldwell and Don Geniro, 70.39%
2. Morgan Ray Haerr and Floran, 68.14%
3. Shona Davies and Bocelli V, 65.74%
BD International Young Horse FEI Young Horse Preliminary 6yo
1. Becky Moody and Magic Dream, 78.60%
BD International Young Horse FEI Preliminary Test for 7yo
1. Jade Whitelaw and Late Night, 74.00%
Bret Willson Dressage International Advanced Medium 98
1. Becky Moody and Lancelot BS, 72.68%
2. Henry Boswell and Finest Dream, 71.93%
3. Becky Moody and Magic Dream, 71.27%
LeMieux Grand Prix Special
1. Anne-Marie Cowan and Woodcroft Royal Charter, 66.74%
2. Robyn Smith and Francesco 77, 64.79%
3. Lindsay Hancock and Barrachiel, 61.77%
Pony Individual Test
1. Sofia Games and WS Jackson, 71.67%
2. Evie Head and Brouwershaven’s Leonie, 65.90%
3. Violet Hawkins and DZL Royal Sunrise, 65.00%
Young Rider Individual Test
1. HermioneTottman and Exquisite, 66.18%
2. Emily Coller and Flabbergasted II, 62.11%
Children on Horses Individual Test
1. Ella-Grace Dovey and Flaviano, 64.29%
2. Martha Jones and Just Rebel, 63.79%
3. Emily Sheldon and Wadacres Wee Pocket Rocket, 60.55%
Photo © Kevin Sparrow