Summer Regional Championships: Kelsall Hill

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Mon, 31 Jul 2023 11:15

With the first three Summer Regional Championships of 2023 under our belt, we can reflect on a successful three days of competition at Kelsall Hill (14 – 16 July). With incredible horses winning from ages five to twenty-one years old.

 Learning opportunities

Kelsall Hill may have been struck with a demonstration of traditional ‘British summertime’ weather! But the atmosphere was still alive, Mark Walters shared his thoughts, ‘it is a fantastic venue with great facilities’ praising the show runners, stewards and staff, ‘they did a really good job and couldn’t do enough to help.’   
The combinations competing had to battle with what the weather had to throw at them, Mark believes it is a beneficial learning experience, 'the horses have to learn to get on with all the different adversity like flags, so they are prepared for bigger shows, so it was a good learning opportunity for them.’  Charlotte Lutener also relayed how those who are local to the venue have all the prior experience, ‘we warmed up in the torrential rain and wind which wasn’t ideal, with horses turning themselves away from the wind, but fortunately living in the Pennines we are quite used to that weather, so Nacho continued to warm up with no problem!’  
The young five-year-old Nacho SR piloted by Charlotte Lutener, rose to the occasion at such a young age by winning the Centre Line Preliminary Gold class with a score of 76.66%. The beautiful bay gelding impressed Charlotte with his ability to soak in the atmosphere at his first Regional Championships, ‘not only was it his first Regional Championships, but also a new venue and a pretty daunting one at that.’   
The ‘gorgeous young boy’ strut his way into the competition, Charlotte was over the moon with his attitude, ‘I am so proud of how he took the whole experience and atmosphere in his stride.’ The combination won a very competitive class of 32 participants and Nacho SR showcased himself to be an equine star of the future!   
Speaking on her test Charlotte told us, ‘I was really pleased with my test it was mistake free but he just lost a little confidence in the arena so we were only on half the power he usually shows in a test.’ But despite the lack of confidence Nacho soaked up the audience reaction, ‘he was very proud of himself after his final halt, he lapped up the small applause with pricked ears taking it all in.’  
Charlotte explains how important it is for the handsome gelding to have some relaxation time at home and talks us through some of the elements of his training, ‘I like to make sure he does lots of stretching and suppleness work alongside training the movements. I also find it really important to let him relax in the field, spend time out hacking and on the water treadmill, it helps him build his strength without taxing his mind and body too much.’  
Cheeky chap Nacho doesn’t just love the audience's attention, ‘He really has the kindest personality, always interested in what we are doing on the yard, and he adores affection, it’s like having a big Labrador!’ Charlotte with the training and support from Becky Moody, is looking forward to the future ahead with Nacho, ‘I aim to continue to train him up through the levels and develop our partnership. He is the first young horse I am training and competing myself, I want to make sure we don’t rush and take time in getting the basics perfect so we can build from there.’  

 Hard work pays off 

 The HorseQuest Elementary Silver was a tightly fought contest with only just over 1% between the top three. It was Manon Roberts who came out on top, riding the lovely Gilinda to victory. The partnership received a great score of 69.32% from the judges, in only their sixth Elementary test together.  

Manon and Gilinda (Sorento X Sulinda) were very successful at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships in April, becoming the Prelim Silver Champions and coming second in the Novice Silver Championship. Since then, they have stepped up to Elementary and will be hoping for the same success at the LeMieux National Championships at Somerford Park (14 – 17 September).  

The 10-month partnership between Manon and the stunning black mare ‘Gigi’ has been going from strength to strength, when asked about her step up to Elementary Manon told us, ‘we have only done a handful of Elementary tests so our run at the regionals was mainly to gain more experience together, to come away with a win was very unexpected!’  

‘Our test went well on the day, she gave me a great feeling inbetween the boards and listened to me really well.’ When talking about the highlights of her test Manon told us, ‘she did some super square halts and our medium trots were really fun to ride.’  Trained by Greg Sims and his partner Stena Hoerner, who Manon also works for full time as an apprentice, she describes them both as ‘great instructors and have helped me and Gigi so much with the step up to Elementary.’  

It was a successful day at Kelsall Hill Summer Regional Championships for Team GSH Dressage, with Greg Sims himself winning the Fairfax Saddles PSG Gold on Waverley Fellini receiving a score of 71.62% and Manon’s fellow apprentice Twm Cernyw winning The Centre Line Preliminary Silver riding First Dance T with an impressive score of 73.56%. Manon was over the moon with the success of the team, ‘I feel super lucky to be able to work on such a great yard, coming home with three regional champions proved all the hours of working and riding in all weather was worth it!’ 

Looking towards the future Manon states she is, ‘really looking forward to growing our partnership over the summer with more training before we head off to the Nationals in September along with the rest of Team GSH Dressage.’  

Age is just a number 

Mark Walters and the amazing veteran gelding Ice Blue Valentino (Harlem x Rimea) won the Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Gold with a brilliant score of 68.09%. At 21 years old Mark was ‘super thrilled’ with Ice Blue Valentino’s performance.  

The 16.2 black gelding has had a home for life with Mark, ‘I have been fortunate to have Ice Blue Valentino (Apollo) since he was a four-year-old and now he is 21. It is so special that he is still out competing and riding him holds more meaning that ever before, he was brought by Gloria Price and Jennifer Long for me to produce, Gloria was the best supporter you could ask for, unfortunately she passed away last year but the family get so much from seeing him do his thing.’

‘Apollo’ has showcased his talents, becoming the Intermediate I Silver National Champion in 2021 with Nick Lawson, Mark tells us, ‘he has been a very successful horse at small tour level, he has competed at every level to Grand Prix.’ 

It was a successful day out competing Mark explains, ‘we had a wonderful day at Kelsall Hill, it was fantastic to come home with both wins in the Novice Gold with exciting young stallion New Secret and then the Inter I Gold. The atmosphere was great, and it was a team affair, a real highlight was to have all our team from Corvedale Equestrian (the yard which Mark and his partner Nick Lawson run) there, seeing all the owners supporting each other made it a special day.’ 

Mark and Nick work extremely hard on the management of the horses at home, ‘we won the SEIB/Horse & Hound Full Livery Yard award in 2022 and our key is that most of the horses live out in a herd 24/7, they are a mixed herd with no back shoes.’ Apollo, ‘is so happy in his herd, he came in from the field on the morning of the competition, was washed and went to the show', Mark believes, ‘it really helps keep the horses mentally and physically sound, although may require a bit more cleaning!’ 

The training at home and the turnout of the horses correlates with their performance, ‘we often see the same pattern of poor performance, health issues and anxiety in the horses and riders, so we wanted to do something to step away from that.’ Mark reflects on Apollo’s training, ‘We have been really busy the last 12 months, so Apollo has been working at home and not been to many shows.’ But his success at the qualifiers led them to Kelsall Hill, ‘I initially intended to do an Inter I qualifier to get him fit and step back up to Inter II and GP. He won his qualifiers, so I thought let’s take him to the regionals one last time.’ 

Apollo’s top form continued the following week Mark tells us, ‘he did an Intermediate II and got over 70%’ looking towards the future, ‘we will hopefully do the Middle Tour Championship after the Nationals and some Grand Prix before the winter.’   


The Centre Line Preliminary Silver 
1. Twm Cernyw & First Dance T, 73.56%  
2. Isabel Coombes & Abou Ben Adhem, 73.33% 
3. David Llewellyn & Brassingaman Bellamy, 72.53%  
The Centre Line Preliminary Gold  
1. Charlotte Lutener & Nacho SR, 74.66% 
2. Jessica Dunn & Fortuna BG, 73.74%  
3. Jennifer Harkness & Woodcroft Milibizi, 73.51%  
BETTALIFE Novice Silver 
1. Charlotte Monk & First Class V, 73.40%  
2. Jo Stoyell & Keystone Deosita, 70.37%  
3. Hannah Bailey & Samtino Royale, 70.31%  
BETTALIFE Novice Gold  
1. Mark Walters & New Secret, 73.21%  
2. Danielle Hardwick & Love Actually Wins MFS, 72.59% 
3. Jennifer Harkness & Woodcroft Milibizi, 71.67%  
HorseQuest Elementary Silver 
1. Manon Roberts & Gilinda, 69.32%  
2. Freya Baldwin & Hoghton Maverick, 68.23%  
3. Katie Alexandra Scott & Loverboy Future, 68.02%  
HorseQuest Elementary Gold  
1. Danielle Hardwick & Love Actually Wins, 71.51%  
2. Matthew Burnett & Mackintosh II, 71.09%  
3. Elspeth Day & Kenzo US, 70.31%  
TopSpec Medium Silver  
1. Sarah Edmondson & Kyaro, 69.55%  
2. Emma Rarity & Rubali, 69.19%  
3. Richard Long & Versatile des rois, 68.65% 
TopSpec Medium Gold  
1. Matthew Burnett & Mackintosh II, 71.31%  
2. Bridget Tate & Francesco S, 70.14%  
3. Ryan Todd & Dietz, 70.09%  
Bret Willson International Advanced Medium Silver  
1. Morgan Haerr & Floran, 71.27% 
2. Isabella Caldwell & Don Geniro, 69.30%  
3. Richard Long Versatile des rois, 68.64%  
Bret Willson International Advanced Medium Gold  
1. Chloe Vell & Royal Rendezvous, 67.94%  
2. Nicola Lickley & Gracia LH, 67.06%  
3. Bridget Tate & Francesco S, 66.80%  
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Silver 
1. Nicola Lickley & Katniss, 68.38%  
2. Julie Yardley & Sweet Lucy Lou, 67.94%  
3. Emily Perry & Dondersteen, 67.40%  
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold  
1. Greg Sims & Waverley Fellini, 71.62%  
2. Jessica Dunn & Hokita, 69.95%  
3. Ruth Edge & Jolene, 69.36%  
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Silver  
1. Christine Cockerton & Evaldo, 68.33%  
2. Rhiannon Hinton & Quaikin Horatio, 67.25%  
3. Emily Perry & Donndersteen, 66.67%  
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Gold  
1. Mark Walters & Ice Blue Valentino, 68.09% 
2. Jane Critchley & Tantoni Dallaglio, 67.55%  
3. Georgina Roden & LHH Harley, 64.51%