South & West excels at Senior Home International
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‘Brilliantly run’, ‘fabulous atmosphere’ and ‘great fun’ are just some of the accolades heaped on the Redpost Equestrian Senior Home International (24-25 September 2022), superbly organised by the South & West region and hosted by Bicton Arena. Many of the most successful combinations were Home International newbies, dipping their toes (and hooves) into team competition for the first time. South & West took team first and third as well as winning three individual titles.
South & West’s Donald Duck team (pictured above) were the overall winners, followed by North & West’s Sapphire with South & West’s Danger Duck bringing up third. In fact, five out of the top 10 teams came from the S&W region.
The Donald Duck team was made up of Alys Matravers and Dargason’s Moonshadow (Novice), Lucy Baker and Last Dancer (Elementary), Alison Luscombe and Finn McFly (Medium) and Clare Deithrick and Dark Knight III (Prix St Georges). The team were lying in second at the end of the first day, moving up to first place when Sunday’s results were added to their total.
Lucy Baker also won the individual Elementary competition, gaining another two sashes and two winners’ rugs to the two she and Last Dancer (pictured above) won at the Midway Championships two weeks before. Dancer (also known as Anton after Anton Du Beke) is a seven-year-old by Johnson and Lucy bought him as an unbroken four-year-old.
“I went to see five horses to see what I could get for the money and ended up buying him. It was a massive gamble but he looked very kind and had a super temperament. He was the one that liked to be made a fuss of,” said Lucy who lives in South Devon and works part-time in a bank. “I hoped he would make 16.2hh but he didn’t stop growing upwards. He’s now 17.3hh and I’m not very big!”
Lucy has produced Dancer herself with occasional help from Callum Whitworth and Alice Peternell. “He’s relatively new to Elementary level. He won both the warm up tests and his two HI tests. I did a BD test riding clinic and was told how important the downward transitions and doing the canter-walk-canter straight on the centre line were. I’ve been working on that and got an 8 for one of them.”
This was Lucy’s fourth Home International, having had a gap of about five years. “It was great to pick up with old team mates and to make new ones. Bicton is always such a professionally run show and there was a great atmosphere. We even went for a hack round the park on the Friday.” Lucy also celebrated her Silver Wedding Anniversary during the show.
Alys Matravers and Dargoson’s Moonshadow were on the winners’ podium coming third in the individual Novice as well as part of the winning team. The 12-year-old mare is owned by FEI dressage steward Sandy Laflin and Alys is a Home International debutante.
“I’ve never done the Home International before. Some friends were chatting about it and I thought ‘why not give it a go?” said Alys who trains with Sue Petty and Gill Longhurst. “She was pretty relaxed and chilled and didn’t put a foot wrong.”
The pair have qualified for the Petplan Equine Championships in the Elementary Silver Freestyle, after winning at Moreton EC Summer Area Festival.
Fairy tale horse
The third Donald Duck team member was Alison Luscombe whose journey to the Home International was far from straightforward. At Christmas 2020, her horse, Finn McFly put a foot through a gate and opened his fetlock to the bone. He had operations on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day and nearly died twice. “We thought he’d never be ridden again,” said Alison who faced a £14,000 vet bill. “He had two months’ box rest and then we had to slowly build him back up again, starting with walking in hand. It was June before I sat on him again. He’s been back in work for a year. I did four BD shows to qualify and at the weekend he felt the best he’s ever felt.
“He’s my fairy tale horse – just taking part was enough for me,” said Alison who is director of a groundworks company.
The final team member was Clare Deithrick, who was third in the individual PSG class with her homebred, De Niro 14-year-old, Dark Knight III. “I had an operation earlier in the year and have only been back in the saddle for seven weeks,” explained Clare who is BD county rep for Cornwall and youth rep for the S & W region as well as a list 2 BD judge. “I sent Dark Knight to Alice Peternell who kept him going for me.”
“He’s the sweetest horse ever. I can do anything with him and he’s very easy to do. This was our first big show since Covid and everyone was so nice and supportive. I think this was the most fun show I’ve ever done.”
Thinks he’s Valegro
The Novice individual winner, Dominique Kinnaird-Perry, was also from the S&W contingent in the Quacker Ducks team. In a tight contest, Susan Dix’s 15-year-old Pallas Vanquish (Ronan, named after Ronan Keating) - pictured above - beat off competition from Patricia Smith and Joost (South & East) and Alys Matravers.
“Suzanne gave me the ride as he was still very fit and she didn’t want to retire him,” said Dominique who has swapped from showing to dressage since lockdown. “We started affiliated competition last November. My plan was to be in the top 10 so it was thrilling to win. He was on fire – he thinks he’s Valegro!”
“It was great to be on home territory as Bicton is my local venue,” said Dominique who runs a training and rehabilitation yard. She trains with Pammy Hutton and Karen Lisk. The combination has a wild card for the Petplan Equine Championships.
Wales Cariad’s Amy Foster-Smith and Kimberley SHR (Desperado x Gribaldi) took the Medium winner’s sash home improving on last year’s performance when they were third in the Novice.
Amy has owned the seven-year-old mare (pictured above) for a year. “She hadn’t competed before I got her,” explained Amy. “She’s still green but she has a lovely attitude. She can be spooky at home but she goes to a show and says ‘I got this’. She was a little bit tense in some of the trot work as it was a big atmosphere. She did some lovely canter work. She’s only done a handful of Mediums but she knows her job.”
The pair have had some training sessions with Serena Pincus and Amy hopes to fit in more over the winter. She works full-time as a senior business analyst in financial services. “Wales is a small region but we all supported each other with good Welsh spirit!”
First team since Pony Club
The Advanced Medium winner Tantoni Dallaglio (pictured above) is an 11-year-old by Danone II and Allison Croft bought him as a four-year-old from the Tantoni Stud. She stables him with Jane Critchley who competes him at Small Tour and cares for him while Allison is fulfilling the demands of her busy job in IT software.
“It’s our first Home International and it was such good fun,” said Allison who competed for the second placed North & West Sapphire team. “I’ve not been on a team since Pony Club and I loved being part of it.” Although she admitted that sleeping on the floor of the lorry for three nights took its toll. A lorry with super living is definitely on her wish list!
“He was great on the first day – he was a bit tense in the warm-up and then took a deep breath and relaxed. On the second day I didn’t really put enough power in and one judge had us 6% below the others. He was a little superstar though and he thoroughly enjoys going to shows.”
Alison hopes to start competing ‘Larry’ at PSG herself soon.
Our final individual winner was Emily Fairleigh and her 11-year-old gelding, Wake Up, (Whoopie) - pictured above - who led the field in the Prix St Georges, winning for S&W’s Daffy Duck team. “I’ve never done the Home International before and it was lovely to do something as a team and have all that support around you,” commented Emily who runs Dittiscombe Equestrian Centre with her mum Alex. (Alex competed, for S&W’s Huey Duck team with Fifty Shades of Bay, and took eighth place in the advanced medium contest.)
Emily was thrilled with her 67% test on day one. “He felt fantastic and it was the best test he’s ever done at that level. He gave me everything,” said Emily who bought Whoopie as an unbroken three-year-old. “He’s got a lovely laid back temperament.”
“S&W were very proud to host the 2022 SHI at Bicton Arena, which is set in the beautiful parklands of the Clinton Devon Estate near Budleigh Salterton in Devon,” said South & West Development Officer Amanda Rogers. “The theme for the weekend for all teams was ‘Oh we do like to be beside the seaside’ and many of the teams made trips to the beach over the SHI for relaxing walks, fish and chips and of course Mr Whippy ice creams!”
The social side of Home Internationals is very important and the teams took on the seaside theme with relish, decorating their stables with sand castles, inflatable mermaids and seagulls as well as dressing-up like sharks for the opening ceremony – you get the idea! Competitors had travelled from all over Britain – from Scotland and the North to one rider from the Channel Isles. Old friendships were rekindled and new ones made so although the competition is serious, there are always good times and fabulous experiences to remember as well.
Congratulations to the South & West region and to Bicton for putting on two very enjoyable days of dressage and fun.
Results - top three
1. South & West Donald Ducks: Lucy Baker and Last Dancer; Alison Luscombe and Finn McFly; Alys Matravers and Dargason’s Moonshadow; Clare Deithrick and Dark Knight III
2. North & West Sapphire: Allison Croft and Tantoni Dallaglio; Guy Reynolds and Samba Star; Lizzie Hughes and Breight Said Fred; Nicky Munday and Gerdinen Arian 402.73%
3. South & West Danger Ducks: Indian John and Grayswood Orlando; Stacey Escrig and Goldfrapp R; Alice Kneen and Master Voyager; Laima Davies and Romero
1. Dominique Kinnaird-Perry and Pallas Vanquish (S & W), 69.79% & 68.95%
2. Patricia Smith and Joost (S & E), 70.28% and 67.53%
3. Alys Matravers and Dargason’s Moonshadow (S & W), 69.44% & 67.96%
1. Lucy Baker and Last Dancer (S & W), 68.43% & 70.00%
2. Katie Kneen and Springtime Gypsy Moth (S & W), 65.34& & 70.16%
3. Hilary Janion and Active Zeitgeist (N & E), 67.13& & 67.19%
1. Amy Foster-Smith and Kimberley SHR (Wales), 68.82% & 66.44%
2. Tessa Ryley & Little Jo (N & W), 66.96% & 68.29%
3. Helen James and Lisa B (S & W), 68.43% & 64.41%
1. Allison Croft and Tantoni Dallaglio (N & W), 70.13% & 65.48%
2. Zoe Kirkpatrick and Floriam TH (S & E), 66.37% & 67.46%
3. India John and Grayswood Orlando (S & W), 66.28% & 67.28%
Prix St Georges
1. Emily Fairleigh and Wake Up (S & W), 67.41% & 65.54%
2. Gemma Dainty and Balance (N & W), 67.04% & 63.43%
3. Clare Deithrick and Dark Knight III (S & W), 64.72% & 63.43%
Photo © ESP-Photographic