Summer Regional Championships: Sheepgate Equestrian
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As first-time hosts of a BD Summer Regional Championships, the Payne family at Sheepgate Equestrian in Lincolnshire warmly welcomed competitors over three days of hot competition (15 – 17 July 2023) which saw many winning combinations clock up plus 70% scores.
Twenty-six-year-old Harriette Williams enjoyed a memorable regional championships securing an impressive double of wins in the Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold and Saracen Horse Feeds Inter I Gold with her 13-year old mare Creto (Conteur x Falkenstern), pictured in April, who she has owned for six years.
Harriette, who trains with Becky Moody, runs her own training and livery yard which she combines with a “small breeding program with the aim of breeding myself some future superstars” in Newmarket.
Harriette reflected on her success with Creto, as well as her 15-year old bay gelding Winwood (Weltissimo), who she rode first to finish fifth in the Advanced Medium Gold: “Sheepgate was brilliant. To take home two regional titles was amazing, but more than anything both Creto and Winwood gave their all in their tests and for where they are both currently at in their training, I can't ask any more than that. I felt quite emotional picking up two titles. These times don't last forever!
“Creto's canter work, especially her changes and extended canter, have always been a highlight, but I have been focusing on developing more expression and self-carriage in the trot which is now gaining 7.5s and 8s.
“At Sheepgate, I had some wonderful judges’ comments, including what a super partnership we are and that the harmony and her correct way of going shine through.”
Harriette describes Creto as “a legend, who is not short of personality!” “She's known as 'The Queen' at home as she has so much presence and knows she is a bit special. She’s a stickler for her routine and life on the yard does sometimes end up being ruled by her, but when you're as special as she is then you’re allowed to be a bit of a diva in my book. She's a real war horse, you could go to battle on her; whatever you ask of her she gives her everything.
“I don't think any horse’s journey is without its ups and downs, but Creto has always been pretty awesome in my eyes. She had an injury during Covid and I was unsure if she would make it back to full work, but she's stronger than ever now and I'm grateful for every day I get to ride her.”
The unseasonal blustery conditions didn’t deter Anna Wilson, another dual winner, who triumphed in both the TopSpec Medium Gold and BETTAlife Novice Gold with her two rides, Escojunio Ballante and Finest Hour, who also gained a qualifying ticket in the HorseQuest Elementary Gold, both rides gaining championship titles on plus-71% scores.
Anna says she bought seven-year-old Finest Hour, a smart 16hh black gelding (Finest x Jazz Rubin), as a foal on impulse when looking at an older horse in Germany. “Jake was a challenge to stay on as a young horse, being equally happy in the air as on the ground. His speciality is piaffe, which he demonstrated to everyone on the arena walks. However, in the past couple of months he has turned a corner, with the Regionals being his highlight to date. He now knows the white boards mean time to focus and show off, so for him to have been completely focused in both tests with 45mph winds was pretty miraculous!”
Anna found eight-year-old Escojunio Ballante at the end of 2022 through friends in Germany, although the 17.2hh bay gelding (Escolar x Diamond Hit) was bred in Belgium, and was third in the Belgian Six-year old championships. “Junio is a very gentle, cuddly, quiet horse on the ground, but the minute you get on he wants to be on the go. He has taken me a few months to get comfortable with as he is a very big energetic and powerful horse, and I'm only normal sized!
“He is a real trier, so can be quite anxious at shows as he hasn’t done much yet. Our relationship is still very new, but the future is exciting.”
Anna, who having dual nationality has competed at small tour for Poland, is based in Henley on Thames and trains with Paul Fielder, says she is looking forward to the future with both her rides. “They’re very different both in types and mentality. Jake is a more blood type, while Junio is a very solid old-fashioned type, however they are both showmen in the arena and I’m proud of how well my horses coped with those gusty conditions!”
Saturday was a day of special memories made for Jennifer Blunt, who clocked up the highest winning mark over the championships in the BETTAlife Novice Gold with her 17.2hh black gelding Dondolini (Nobless/Furstenball) who claimed the title on a fantastic score 75%.
The following day, Jennifer was delighted to also win the hotly contested Prelim Gold Regional Championship, which saw 22 riders trot down the centre line, with her five year old Hanoverian gelding Fergus IX (San Lady/Finnigan).
Another in-form combination which impressed was former European pony team member Natasha Leak and her stunning seven-year-old Kapoeria, who won the HorseQuest Elementary Gold on 71.25%, proving a consistent winner this season.
Natasha, who was also runner up in the Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Regional Championships with 13-year-old gelding Belissimo, originally bought her 17.2hh chestnut gelding Kapoeria in the Netherlands as a just-backed youngster and it seems this partnership is destined for great things in the future.
Congratulations to all the competitors and to the organisers, judges, stewards and volunteers who contributed to the smooth running of the Sheepgate Equestrian Summer Regional Championships.
Results (top three)
The Centre Line Preliminary Gold
1. Jennifer Blunt & Fergus IX 72.41%
2. Lara Edwards & Beaumont Franziska 72.18%
3. Lily Payne & Senscionale 70.92%
The Centre Line Preliminary Silver
1. Megan Lane & Lyralinde-H 68.85%
2. Mirabella Catalano & Sir Faberge 67.64%
3. Abbie Richards & Brandy Boy 67.41%
BETTAlife Novice Gold
1. Anna Wilson & Finest Hour 71.42%
2. Lara Edwards & Maestro-b 71.17%
3. Sarah Payne & Machno Gwenlli 70.49%
BETTAlife Novice Silver
1. Jennifer Blunt & Dondolini 75%
2. William Scott & Lucan 71.42%
3. Jamie Wilkinson & Cruising Rocks 68.89%
HorseQuest Elementary Gold
1. Natasha Leak & Kapoeria 71.25%
2. Sarah Payne & Machno Gwenlli 70.73%
3. Anna Wilson & Finest Hour 69.11%
HorseQuest Elementary Silver
1. Angela Westgarth & Royal Heritage 69.74%
2. Tabitha Leicester & Eires Rock 69.69%
3. Hannah Macmillan & Brookeborough Lad 69.48%
TopSpec Medium Gold
1. Anna Wilson & Escojunio Ballante 71.67%
2. Sarah Payne & Woodlander Wild Romance 70.63%
3. Joanne Thurman-Baker & Sol Invictus X 70.05%
TopSpec Medium Silver
1. Jessica Griffiths & RS Furst Love 68.69%
2. Anna Bates & Gitina 68.60%
3. Angela Westgarth & Re-Joyce 68.42%
Bret Willson Dressage International Advanced Medium Silver
1. Judy Hancock & Just Dance BH 69.30%
2. Zoe Kirkpatrick & Floriam TH 69.30%
3. Nicole Turner & J’Eton Hit LDS 69.25%
Bret Willson Dressage International Advanced Medium Gold
1. Ruth Hole & Rubico 70.61%
2. Joanna Thurman-Baker & Sol Invictus X 69.30%
3. Anna Wilson & Escojunio Ballante 68.99%
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Silver
1. Judy Hancock & Just Dance BH 67.01%
2. Frances Scott & MSJ Sydney 61.86%
3. Anna Bostrand-Daly & KBIS Zavir 61.57%
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold
1. Harriette Williams & Creto 70.69%
2. Natasha Leak & Belissimo 68.58%
3. Vanessa Worthington & RS Raphael 68.04%
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Silver
1. Antonia Brown & SJL Duuk 66.18%
2. Sarah Heath & Feuertanz 65.44%
3. Elspeth Day & Silvano Dazzling Diamond 64.26%
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Gold
1. Harriette Williams & Creto 69.95%
2. Victoria Maw & Benito Dorato 67.16%
3. Ruth Hole & Fidalgo Classic 66.96%