Summer Regional Championships: Bicton Arena

  • Written By: Helen Triggs
  • Published: Wed, 11 Aug 2021 15:03 GMT

The girls were on top form at Bicton Arena, Devon (06 – 08 August 2021). Seven of the 14 titles on offer were won by mares! Girl power in action!

Beth Bainbridge & Habouche c ESP Photographic

Beth Bainbridge with Anna Ross’ and Marcelo Tosi’s beautiful grey mare Habouche (pictured above) won the Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges (PSG) Gold and Saracen Horse Feeds Inter I Gold with personal best scores. ‘Holly’ (Ampere x Sydney) is having a very successful season with good placings at Premier Leagues and she competed for Ireland with Vicky Campbell in the Young Rider Europeans in Spain.

“Her trip to Spain did her the world of good,” said Beth who has done most of the competitions with this mare, with other Elite Dressage team members, Anna Ross and Alex Baker also playing a big part in her development.

“Her shoulder-in on the centre line in the Inter I was the best we’ve done. We had a small blip in the extended trot when she broke into canter. I took a risk and it didn’t come off.” Despite this error, Holly scored 74.12% for the title win.

“I’m extremely excited to be going to the Championships as I’ve never ridden at these levels there before,” said Beth. Holly is a working mum, part of Anna’s embryo transfer breeding programme and has five youngsters already on the ground and another four due next year.

Beth’s colleague Alex Baker also had double wins on Anna Ross’s Tiger, who is by Blue Hors First Choice out of Anna’s Sandro Hit mare, Shimmer. Tiger won both Novice and Elementary Gold titles. Alex has known Tiger since she was a foal and backed her as a three-year-old. Tiger will compete for Ireland at the up-coming World Breeding Championships.

“She’s such a professional for such a young horse,” commented Alex. “She felt in a better balance in the Novice and we had a few little mistakes in the Elementary which is a difficult test for a five-year-old. She loved the prize givings and was ready to go round again!”

Rachel Lade & Royal Diamont c ESP Photographic

Rachel Lade also ‘did the double’, in the PSG and Inter I Silver sections with her 12-year-old Royal Diamond grey gelding, Royal Diamont (pictured above). Known as ‘Shimmer’, he was fourth in the Area Festival Championships at Inter I earlier this year.

“He’s a bit of a diva. I’ve had him four years so know him pretty well. He was previously ridden up to Advanced Medium by Alex Hardwick and I think she’d held his hand. It took us a while to get to understand each other,’ said Rachel. After having no training during the Covid lockdown, Rachel decided to go for it and moved Shimmer to British team rider Henriette Andersen’s yard. “Henriette’s been fantastic and says there is much more to come.”

“Small tour has been a big step up, there are so many things to think about. In the last couple of months he’s felt confident enough to go in and get the job done. I loved his attitude at the show – every time I got on, he felt soft and supple. We did have little mistakes in both tests – in the Inter I he decided to show off his one-time changes after a lovely line of twos! His biggest problem is he tries too hard and worries himself.”

Having got distracted by horses when she was young, Rachel has had a change of direction and is now studying for an Open University degree in English Literature while doing freelance riding and competition grooming.

Sara-Jane Lanning made the long journey from Hampshire worthwhile by taking home wins in the TopSpec Medium Gold and Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium Gold with Nicola Seale’s exciting young mare, Hawtins Lirica.

Seven-year-old ‘Lyra’ (Lemony’s Nicket x Dimaggio) is the current Elementary Freestyle Gold Champion and in 2018 was the Shearwater four-year-old champion at the National Championships under Lucinda Elliot.

Lyra had the show’s top score of 74.74% in the Advanced Medium despite only a small number of starts at this level. “She’s rising to the challenge more and more so I thought I’d give it a go,” said Sara-Jane who scored a 10 from judge Christian Landolt for her medium trot. “She’s a hot mare and can get a little bit tense in her canter but generally gets 8s and 9s for all her paces. Her changes are getting 8s already.”

The strength of Hawtins Stud was demonstrated by three of the top six horses in the Medium Gold class having been bred by Judith Davis with Hawtins Fiorano third with Giljs Van Vooren and Hawtins Bellino sixth with Sam Rahmatallah. Hawtins Bellegra (Lucinda Elliot) and Hawtins Barolo (Calum Whitworth) were second and third in a very hot Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold class.

Janine Jensen and Jan Roberts’ Spitfire II secured their ticket to the Nationals with a win in the Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium Silver. The 12-year-old gelding by Surprise II will be off to Arena UK as well as Somerford Park as he won the PSG silver at Wellington Riding and the PSG Freestyle Silver at Moreton Area Festival in July.

Spitfire was bred by Alice Peternell and Janine trains him with help from Anna Ross.

Abi King & Hallelujah II c ESP Photographic

Another mare in the top spot was Hallelujah II (pictured above), who claimed the BETTALIFE Novice Silver title. British-bred by the Larkshill Stud, the nine-year-old mare by Bretton Woods has been owned by rider Abi King for three years. “When I got her she was very green. She has been tricky but I think she was just misunderstood,” said Abi who is a farrier based in Dorset. “She’s a sweet horse who needed time to mature. She goes everywhere as if she’s late!

“This summer she’s relaxed. She got a little bit tense at the beginning of the test, but I think I did too! She was very polite and obliging and I think she trusts me now. There’s definitely more to come from her.”

Danielle Balsdon and Lord Lennox finally broke their run of bad luck at regionals and secured the TopSpec Medium Silver title. “In the last two years I’ve done the regionals and it’s gone wrong,” she recalled. “So I was quite tense starting the test. I’ve been working so hard towards the show and then halfway through the trot work he lost his back end and panicked so we had two low-scoring movements. I remember thinking ‘just breathe and relax, you know where you can pick up the marks elsewhere’.”

Danielle credits this response to the training she has been receiving from the National Youth Academy, particularly with Anne Keen. “I had learned the test really well so I knew exactly what movements were included with each individual mark and made sure I rode for each mark.” With higher than normal canter marks, the pair were able to put the slip behind them and secure the victory.

Danielle bought Lennox (by L’Espoir) as a green five-year-old and she is the only person to ride him since.

Louisa Brend piloted Alison Ainsworth’s Welsh gelding Cynheidrefawr Gerwyn (by Crabbleden Platinum) through torrential rain to take the Equitop Elementary Silver title. “It was horrendous!” said Louisa who runs a riding school with her mother and sister in Chulmleigh in Devon. “’Guto’ was brilliant and just kept going. He wants to please and tries so hard. I train with Hayley Watson-Greaves and she has been helping me to make sure he’s forward and off my leg. He’s very versatile and hacks a lot with Alison.”

The attractive palomino pony was recently reserve champion in the Elementary Freestyle Silver at Prestige Winter Regionals.

Lucy Baker & Last Dancer c ESP Photographic

Lucy Baker bought her Mobiliser Preliminary Gold Regional Champion, Last Dancer (Johnson x Wolkentanz) - pictured above, in 2019 as an unbroken three-year-old. “There was something about him I love,” she said. “He’s been an absolute pleasure to produce – I couldn’t wish for a nicer dance partner. His nickname is Anton for Strictly dancer, Anton D Beke.”

“I traced his breeder in Holland and discovered he was the last foal they bred and his mother died six weeks after he was born. He was hand-reared which is maybe why he is so much like a human.”

Lucy also had her other horse Voolra at Bicton and they were second in the PSG and Inter I Silver. “He’s a full thoroughbred so couldn’t be more different to Dancer.”

Estate agent Glen Stuart is really an eventer at heart but dressage success seems to be getting in the way for him and his Mobiliser Preliminary Silver Regional Champion, Greenvale Cordet (Correvale x Robin Z). “I’ve been riding him for a year and we’ve seen a lot of improvement working with Alice Peternell,” said Glen. “He didn’t put a foot wrong in his test. He can be sharp but doesn’t want to drop you. He’s bred to jump and I want to take him eventing but every time he does well at dressage I put the plans on hold in case he hurts himself. I did manage to take him cross-country schooling after the Area Festival Championships and I think some variety suits him.”

Top-three results

Mobiliser Preliminary Silver
1. Glen Stuart and Greendale Cordet, 69.66%
2. Sarah Tancock and Fairly Smart, 69.02%
3. Harriet Rose and Chytodden Crystal Rose, 68.45%

Mobiliser Preliminary Gold
1. Lucy Baker and Last Dancer, 72.98%
2. Jess Ralton and Vive Venezuela, 69.66%
3. Tyler Bradshaw and Mexx, 69.66%

BETTALIFE Novice Silver
1. Abi King and Hallelujah, 69.81%
2. Hayley Ford and Crimson Gold, 69.69%
3. Virginia Cundy and Elrite, 66.6%

1. Alex Baker and Tiger, 74.57%
2. Jenny Lovel and Lanuvio, 72.28%
3. Alicia Laughton and Armada Bathsheba, 72.04%

Equitop Elementary Silver
1. Louisa Brend and Cynheidrefawr Gerwyn, 69.58%
2. Clare Smith and Dori Dragon Fly, 68.75%
3. Lynn Wickes and Clooney, 68.44%

Equitop Elementary Gold
1. Alex Baker and Tiger, 71.51%
2. Georgia Stokes and SOS Johnny Cash VDL, 71.51%
3. Melanie Rowley and RFW Fatal Attraction, 70.89%

TopSpec Medium Silver
1. Danielle Balsdon and Lord Lennox, 69.14%
2. Helen Askey and Rockoko, 68.78%
3. Clare Smith and Dori Dragon Fly, 66.8%

TopSpec Medium Gold
1. Sara-Jane Lanning and Hawtins Lirica, 72.61%
2. Henry Boswell and Woodcroft Fireball, 69.23%
3. Gijs Van Vooren and Hawtins Fiorano, 68.65%

Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium Silver
1. Janine Jansen and Spitfire III, 69.785
2. Annie Brooker and Likoto’s Luke, 67.15%
3. Rachel Taylor and Faloya, 67.06%

Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium Gold
1. Sara-Jane Lanning and Hawtins Lirica, 74.74%
2. Natasha Rumble and Dragon Fly VCG, 71.45%
3. Becky Edwards and Dita Von Teese, 71.27%

Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Silver
1. Rachel Lade and Royal Diamont, 68.68%
2. Lucy Baker and Voolra, 67.46%
3. Helen Askey and Boston HS, 64.78%

Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold
1. Beth Bainbridge and Habouche, 72.59%
2. Lucinda Elliot and Hawtins Bellegra, 70.92%
3. Calum Whitworth and Hawtins Barolo, 69.96%

Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Silver
1. Rachel Lade and Royal Diamont, 68.11%
2. Lucy Baker and Voolra, 66.23%
3. Helen Askey and Boston HS, 64.91%

Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Gold
1. Beth Bainbridge and Habouche, 74.12%
2. Jayne Turney and Cruz III, 72.24%
3. Sara-Jane Lanning and Sigurd, 71.27%


Photo © ESP Photographic