Team NAF on the ball in France

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Tue, 17 Jul 2018 10:12 GMT

Whilst the French people enjoyed a week of goals galore and golden ticker tape, the picturesque town of Fontainebleau played host to its own key sporting event, the FEI European Championships for Children on Horses, Juniors and Young Riders in the three Olympic disciplines.

Team NAF enjoyed a great week across the board, with several top ten places and plus 70% scores for the seven riders who travelled to the Championships to represent their country.

Children on Horses: Payne makes her mark

Children on Horses features riders aged 12 to 14 compete across three tests equal to BD Elementary/Medium and has grown in popularity over the years; the 2018 Championship proved highly competitive with no less than 44 riders battling for the titles.

It was second time lucky for Boston based Lily Payne who travelled to Roosendaal for last year’s European Championship but was sadly ruled out after her dancing partner, Ann Savage’s Beckhouse Cancara, twisted her shoe on the first day of competition. Putting her past disappointment behind her, 14-year-old Lily made every second of this year’s competition count and enjoyed a week of phenomenal results with ‘Cara’.

Their campaign started with a solid 69.42% for 18th place in the Preliminary test before an even better tour around the team test resulted in 70.19% and a top ten finish. Lily and Cara without doubt saved their best until last as they performed a sublime test in the individual final resulting in a great score of 71.25% and a record sixth place. This is the highest placed finish for a British Children on Horses rider, congratulations to Lily and her team.

The bulk of the medals belonged to the Netherlands who took home the team title as well as individual Gold and Silver.

Juniors: Youngsters gain valuable mileage

Two British Junior riders headed to Fontainebleau to represent Great Britain and Team NAF as individuals. Both Jessica McConkey and Maddy Whelan enjoyed a week of experience building tests that will without doubt set them up for strong results in the future.

Drawn on day one of the Team competition, Maddy Whelan and Sandy Phillips’ stallion Diamond Design showed promise in their test alongside a couple of unfortunate mistakes to score 66.87%. They went on to score 64.41% in the Individual test and will without doubt return to their best on another day. “It’s been an amazing Championships, one I will never forget,” said Maddy on her Facebook page, “Not quite the scores we were hoping for but so much learnt!”

16-year-old Jessica McConkey enjoyed an awesome European Championship debut with her own nine-year-old mare Lady Gaga II. In the team test, the elegant pair earned 68.87% from the panel of judges consisting of Raphael Saleh (FRA), Leif Tornblad (NOR), Henning Lehrmann (GER), Clive Halsall (GBR) and Thomas Lang (AUT). In the individual test a handful of small mistakes just kept the score from reaching the same notes as the previous round, however they still gained a creditable 66.70%.

Repeating the success of their Children on Horses team, the Junior class was dominated by the Dutch. Strong team test performances from Daphne Van Peperstraten, Thalia Rockx, Kimberly Pap and Milou Dees meant that the ladies in orange left Championship favourites Germany in Silver medal position whilst the Danish team settled for Bronze. Dutch anchor Daphne went on to score a hat-trick with her family’s 11-year-old Johnson sired gelding Cupido to complete a brilliant week shrouded in gold.

Young Riders: Debutants fly high

Team NAF’s Young Riders arrived in Fontainebleau with high hopes and certainly didn’t disappoint. An ace combined effort in the Team Championship resulted in sixth place amongst some tough competition, just 3.8 points off a coveted medal.

Charlotte Dicker earned the highest score of the British quartet in the team test from anchor position; her routine with Sabatini impressed the judges and was good enough for 10th place with 71.11%. Seasoned campaigner Charlotte enjoyed a return to the Championship teams following her Junior appearance in 2016, however the year has not been without drama for the Stockbridge based rider. Following a winning trip to Keysoe CDI Charlotte sustained two fractures to her spine, fortunately a speedy recovery and a successful trip to the Hagen Future Champions show secured her place on the team. After their brilliant Team test performance, Charlotte and ‘Soli’ scored 67.5% in their Individual test to conclude their solid week.

Team newcomer Anna Jesty made waves in the team test with her own Aquiro as they excelled themselves to earn 70.35% and 14th place. Anna, a pupil of Anna Ross, went on to secure two further top twenty placings after their 68.85% individual test earned them a spot in the prestigious freestyle final. Proud trainer Anna Ross took to Facebook to celebrate her pupils’ success saying, “I couldn’t be prouder of Anna Jesty’s 70% on her team debut at the European Championships. It’s worth mentioning that the entire GBR Young Rider team is made up of young professionals who work in the industry and have trained their horses from scratch themselves. The future is bright!”

Lewis Carrier also enjoyed a brilliant Championship debut despite a tricky start to the week. His own Diego V proved a little hot to trot in the team test and a couple of costly mistakes left the duo with 65.14%. The week however took a brilliant turn for 21-year-old Lewis who went on to earn the highest British placings in the Individual and Freestyle finals; the latter was an impressive 10th place after the judges awarded 71.07% following an energetic Western-themed music programme.

Chew Magna based rider Alex Harrison contested his first Championships with his own exciting seven-year-old gelding, Diamond Hill. Alex and ‘Damo’ notched up a good score of 67.47% in the team test before unfortunately going on to encounter a few problems in the individual test. The future looks very bright for the Don Diamond gelding, with Alex commenting on his Facebook page ‘Not the scores we wanted and had a few uncharacteristic mistakes on both days but what a great experience for a young horse to come and experience this atmosphere.’

The German team topped the tables and proved that consistency is key as their riders earned the Young Rider Gold medal for yet another year. The Dutch had to settle for Silver in this Championship in only one test as a week of sublime performances concluded with Esmee Donkers and Chaina (Sir Donnerhall x Rubioso N) strolling to two Gold medals and two European Champion titles in the Individual and Freestyle classes.

Onwards and upwards

It’s been another great Championship for Team NAF and our British riders continue to gain experience against the very best riders on the Continent. British Dressage thanks team supporters NAF, equestrian kit suppliers LeMieux, official vehicle supplier Land Rover and all the support teams behind our Championship representatives including team trainer Paul Fielder, team Vet Robert Oulton, Stable Manager Liz Walsh, Chef d’Equipes Cara Hayward and Nina Boex and the panel of selectors.

Congratulations to the team at Grand Parquet Fontainebleau and title sponsors Longines for delivering a world-class championship experience for Dressage, Eventing and Show jumping riders.


COH Preliminary
1st Lara Van Nek with Fariska, 75.61% (NED)
18th Lily Payne with Beckhouse Cancara, 69.42% (GBR)

COH Team
1st Lara Van Nek with Fariska, 76.15% (NED)
9th Lily Payne with Beckhouse Cancara, 70.19% (GBR)

Team rankings
1st The Netherlands, 224.92
2nd Germany, 223.07
3rd France, 207.88

COH Individual
1st Sanne Buijs with Happy Feet, 76.50% (NED)
6th Lily Payne with Beckhouse Cancara, 71.25% (GBR)

JR Team
1st Daphne Van Peperstraten with Cupido, 75.90% (NED)
22nd Jessica McConkey with Lady Gaga II, 68.87% (GBR)
36th Maddy Whelan with Diamond Design, 66.87% (GBR)

Team rankings
1st The Netherlands, 219.75
2nd Germany, 211.81
3rd Denmark, 211.87

JR Individual
1st Daphne Van Peperstraten with Cupido, 74.47% (NED)
37th Jessica McConkey with Lady Gaga II, 66.70% (GBR)
51st Maddy Whelan with Diamond Design, 64.41% (GBR)

JR Freestyle
1st Daphne Van Peperstraten with Cupido, 80.92% (NED)

YR Team
1st Esmee Donkers with Chaina, 77.26% (NED)
10th Charlotte Dicker with Sabatini, 71.11% (GBR)
14th Anna Jesty with Aquiro, 70.35% (GBR)
40th Alex Harrison with Diamond Hill, 67.47% (GBR)
51st Lewis Carrier with Diego V, 65.14% (GBR)

Team rankings
1st Germany, 222.52
2nd Holland, 221.41
3rd Sweden, 212.79
6th Great Britain, 208.93

YR Individual
1st Esmee Donkers with Chaina, 77.29% (NED)
11th Lewis Carrier with Diego V, 70.73% (GBR)
18th Anna Jesty with Aquiro, 68.85% (GBR)
28th Charlotte Dicker with Sabatini, 67.58% (GBR)
48th Alex Harrison with Diamond Hill, 64.79% (GBR)

YR Freestyle
1st Esmee Donkers with Chaina, 80.50% (NED)
10th Lewis Carrier with Diego V, 71.07% (GBR)
13th Anna Jesty with Aquiro, 69.70% (GBR)