Summer Regional Championships: Somerford Park
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Hot on the heels of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships, the first of the summer regionals got underway at Somerford Park Farm (10 - 11 July 2021). Heart-warming stories abounded as a former Grand Prix rider who had given up competing finds new enthusiasm with her PRE partner and a silver medal eventer who competed on Somerford’s cross country course returns to win the Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium Gold.
Two riders ‘did the double’. Claire Ballantyne won the TopSpec Medium Silver and Equitop Elementary Gold, while Henry Boswell won the Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges (PSG) Gold and Saracen Horse Feeds Inter I Gold.
Claire bred her ride, Dvorak (pictured above). He is by De Niro out of Fame, a Florestan mare she rode for 10 years up to Inter II. She has produced Dvorak, with some help from Callum Whitworth and Ryan Shannon. “He’s a very obliging horse and energetic to ride. He gives you a lovely feel,” she commented. “He’s a good combination of sharp and rideable. He had a bit of a moment in the elementary when a car clattered by in the field next door but other than that he felt really with me. He gave me two very tidy rides.”
Henry’s ride, Folt (pictured below), is owned by Kate and Marg Lister and Henry has been riding the Ampere 11-year-old since he was four. “He was a bit of a scallywag as a young horse but has grown in consistency the last year and so deserved the win,” said Henry. “He was so focussed in both the tests. Now he’s getting the Grand Prix work under his belt at home, it’s given him clarity and focus.”
“In the test I didn’t go for razzle dazzle but for fluency and consistency and not dropping marks.” With both tests being marked over 71%, this was a winning strategy for Henry.
Victoria Johnson’s ride Temujin was an eventing silver medal winner for Chinese Olympic rider, Alex Hua Tian at the 2014 Asia Games. Now 15, Victoria has been competing him since 2017. Their Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium Silver win is their first regional title. “When I first started riding him I was competing at prelim on a Highland pony so it’s been a big learning curve,” said Victoria, who trains with Sarah Higgins and Becky Moody. “Bertie is a really good teacher – he tells me when I’m doing it wrong! I had a bad blank moment in the test but fortunately he took over.”
Victoria is a BD coach and Pilates teacher and has just purchased a mechanical horse to help her clients with their riding.
When international GP rider Jane Green retired her GP horse W-Valentime in 2017, she decided to give up competing. However, PRE (Andalusian) stallion Hacendado XVI (pictured below) has changed all that.
“I’ve always loved the look of Andalusians and I fancied having a go at training one,” explained Jane. “They’re small and sharp and interesting to ride. Hacendado has an outstanding temperament and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed training him.”
Her friends persuaded her to compete him and now she is back in her tails and on her way to the National Championships once again, this time at Advanced Medium Gold. “I was very pleased with his test, there’s definitely still more to come. Once he’s got more confident he’ll show more expression. He’s done his first PSG, he can do his one-time tempis and his passage and piaffe looks promising.”
The Fairfax Saddles PSG Silver title was won by Shelley Reeve-Smith riding her mother Sue’s homebred, Sinderella, who also came second in the Inter I Silver. Shelley competed in young riders on Sinderella’s grandfather, Sharola Rainmaker.
“She’s a consistent little girl and I love her to bits,” said Shelley who is based in Hertfordshire so was making her first visit to Somerford. “It’s a really nice venue and was a good practice run for the Nationals.
“She felt really good in her PSG test and it was solid and mistake-free. I made a mistake in the 2s in the Inter I. She felt a bit flatter so I think she was a bit tired from the travelling.”
The Saracen Horse Feeds Inter I Silver title was won by Emily Watts and 16-year-old Rascalini who Emily admits has been headstrong and tense in the past. “He’s finally growing up and I think I ride him better too,” said Emily who trains with Patsy Bartram and Matt Frost. “He was better in the test than the warm-up! We had a mistake at the end of the test but overall it was really nice and he was quite relaxed.
“My aim is always to do the best I can do – horses aren’t robots.” Emily is a BDCC Level 3 dressage coach and has a small livery yard.
The Equitop Elementary Silver classes were in so much demand that two sections were run. Emma Rarity won the first section, riding Lynn Mapstone’s homebred Rubali, an 11-year-old by Rubinero. “She was a little bit spooky but I’ve been working hard on her not getting tense and letting me ride her,” said Emma who runs a small yard outside Nantwich and specialises in dressage and eventing. “It makes the win even better that she held it together despite being desperate to spook!”
It will be the first time at the National Championships for Emma and Rubali.
The other Elementary Silver title was claimed by Debbie Halstead and Illadorijke (Everdale x Jazz), who Debbie bought three years ago when he was five. “I was watching the young horse classes at the nationals when he popped up on Facebook. That was the Sunday, I saw him on Monday and he arrived on the Friday!” recalled Debbie. “He’s not been straightforward so it’s really rewarding when you have a breakthrough.
“I train with Becky Moody and she’s been amazing. It’s the best he’s ever felt in the arena, confidence-wise, and he felt really up for it. I had to keep him a bit under wraps in the test as he was super-keen in the warmup but it meant I could ride him accurately.”
Debbie is a freelance rider and coach and has a livery yard in Lytham.
Somerford Park is the home base for TopSpec Medium Gold winners Jennifer Harkness and White Sparrow (Tiger), where they are looked after by Carol Raglan while Jennifer pursues her international business career.
“He’s a floaty pony with lots of talent but lacks a bit of confidence,” said Jennifer who bought Tiger as a three-year-old from the Brightwells auction. The pair were recently reserve champions in the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships in the Advanced Medium Silver where they lost out on first place by .5%.
“Darryl Thickitt has been helping us for the last twelve months. It’s taken me a number of years to work out how to ride him - he’s the biggest-moving horse I’ve ever owned.”
Lisa Garland had high hopes for her BETTALIFE Novice Gold winner, Athena IV (Angelo Arnee x Samber). He was bought as a foal then sold to Lisa’s friend Dorothy Walford as a four-year-old.
“She’s a bit special. She’s a very good girl but not very brave,” said Lisa who runs a small yard and specialises in rehabilitation. “In the test she didn’t put a foot wrong and really listened to me. It felt like she couldn’t have given me any more. I train with Gareth Hughes and went for a lesson the week before which really helped.”
Last year Lisa ruptured a disc and because of lockdown couldn’t get treatment. She lay on her back for five months before she could get an operation. “It took me six months to get back riding properly again. I got back to competing Athena in April. As she’d been off work before me, she had nearly two years off but has come back better than ever.”
BETTALIFE Novice Silver winner was Sarah Edmondson’s six-year-old Firestone gelding, Kyaro. Sarah has also had help from Gareth Hughes and had a two-day visit to his yard I June.
“’Cedric’ is called the cowardly lion at the yard,” said Sarah who has a few liveries at her home near Lancaster. “He takes his confidence from you – if you say go, he goes.” It will be the pair’s first time at the LeMieux National Championships.
Raine Harthern’s Quantensprung seven-year-old Heathersedge Just A Vision gave Freya Metters her Mobiliser Preliminary Gold title on a good 74+% score. The piebald gelding was bought to show but began to focus on dressage during the Covid lockdown. “He tried hard,” said Freya, who trains with Hayley Colwell and Becky Moody. “He has three good paces so it was just a matter of making sure he was ‘on it’ and that it was a good clean test.
“I freelance riding and teaching and split my time between showing and dressage. I had to change his way of going for the dressage to get him to sit on his bum. I think he enjoys the dressage as it gives him a bit to think about.”
The youngest title winner was Matthew Proctor, Mobiliser Preliminary Silver winner with AB Kensington, following up his success in the Novice U21 at the Area Festival Championships. Matt works for producer Astrid Bolton and Kensington was bought from her as a surprise Christmas gift from his parents. Lucky chap!
“He’s a lovely horse. I love his trainability and awesome canter,” said Matthew who only competed in the dressage arena for the first time last November and is now contemplating dressage as a career. “He’s big and green with loads of power. It was a good test but not the best he’s going to do in the future!”
Thanks to all the hard-working organisers and volunteers that made this a great show.
Mobiliser Preliminary Silver
1. Matthew Procter and AB Kensington, 75.69%
2. Lee and Creevagh Hannah, 72.70%
3. Laura Gibson and Bellevue Sagaro, 72.24%
Mobiliser Preliminary Gold
1. Freya Metters and Heathersedge Just A Vision, 74.20%
2. Bridget Tate and Dancing Magic, 73.33%
3. Georgie Wheeler and Luxe PB, 72.93%
BETTALIFE Novice Silver
1. Sarah Edmondson and Kyaro, 71.36%
2. Alexandra Ratcliffe and Heaven v/h Trichelhof, 70.93%
3. Tia Owen and Wasserfallen, 70.93%
BETTALIFE Novice Gold
1. Lisa Garland and Athena IV, 69.63%
2. Sarah Clarke and Hiawatha La Perle, 68.89%
3. Freya Metters and Heathersedge Just A Vision, 68.46%
Equitop Elementary Silver (a)
1. Emma Rarity and Rubali, 70.89%
2. Isabelle Maughan and Santino Royale, 69.69%
3. Ricki Riley and Daleron, 69.53%
Equitop Elementary Silver (b)
1. Debbie Halstead and Illadorijke, 70.94%
2. Ines Dearman and Ernesto, 69.22%
3. Sophia Marston and Solitaire, 69.01%
Equitop Elementary Gold
1. Claire Ballantyne and Dvorak, 70.94%
2. Benjamin Andrew and Dan It’s Carston, 70.73%
3. Francesca Bradley and Junior Johnson MFS, 70.16%
TopSpec Medium Silver
1. Claire Ballantyne and Dvorak, 71.67%
2. Lauren Williamson and Vancouver LG, 69.77%
3. Rose Foley and Cardici K, 69.05%
TopSpec Medium Gold
1. Jennifer Harkness and White Sparrow, 67.61%
2. Chrissie Havis and Beckhouse Piano Blur, 67.21%
3. Jane Critchley and Firstino, 65.99%
Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium Silver
1. Victoria Johnson and Temujin, 67.46%
2. Rhiannon Hinton and Quaikin Horatio, 67.41%
3. Lizzie Merritt and Valuciano DHZ, 66.4%
Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium Gold
1. Jane Green and Hacendado XVI, 69.34%
2. Ruth Edge and Jolene, 68.90%
3. Darcas Lever and Gustav IV, 67.94%
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Silver
1. Shelley Reeve-Smith and Sinderella, 69.21%
2. Nicholas Lawson and Iceblue Valentino, 66.22%
3. Nicola Adams and Appie, 63.90%
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold
1. Henry Boswell and Folt, 71.10%
2. Darcas Lever and Gustav IV, 67.68%
3. Lottie Flinn and Royal Rebel SH, 67.63%
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Silver
1. Emily Watts and Rascalini, 67.06%
2. Shelley Reeve-Smith and Sinderella, 66.75%
3. Nicola Adams and Royal Troy, 66.49%
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Gold
1. Henry Boswell and Folt, 71.27%
2. Sarah Higgins and Waldessarini, 70.39%
3. Sarah Higgins and Easter Bunny II, 66.62%
Photo © Jasmine Punter Photography