Vale View Premier League: high five for Michael

  • Written By: Helen Triggs | British Dressage
  • Published: Fri, 30 Jun 2023 08:00

Michael Eilberg dominated the Vale View Premier League Show in Leicestershire (21-24 June 2023), with five wins in five tests from Advanced Medium to Grand Prix, while Dan Greenwood and Chevalier-O have a personal best in the Grand Prix Special.

Michael started his campaign with Premier League first-timer, Sezuan seven-year-old EDH Saubermond (pictured above), who won Wednesday’s Advanced Medium 96. Like all Mike’s winners, except Figlio, ‘Mono’ was bought by the Eilbergs as a foal.

“He’s very low mileage and is a cool little horse who seems to be very adaptive to the higher movements,” he commented.

Michael has rated his Inter II double-winner, MSJ Dante VX (Dante Weltino x Quattro B), pictured above, for a long time – not surprising with plus-75% scores in both tests. “I’ve always thought he’s got top-class potential. It’s early days in his Big Tour career but he got lots of great comments and lots of 8s and 9s. He’s been quite an anxious horse to work with and take to shows. He’s his own worst enemy as he tries too hard and then makes mistakes. If he can keep his nerve when he gets to Grand Prix, he’ll be among the best.” Dante is co-owned with Nicky Hannam.

Fidertanz 11-year-old Figlio (Leo), pictured above, won the Grand Prix with just shy of 70%. “It’s early days for him,” said Michael. “He’s only done local shows and a Premier League is a whole different ball game. I was pleased with his test as it was as good as he can do at this stage. He’s come a long way from the naughty six-year-old. He’s settled into his work now. He got a lot of comments about how he’s a horse for the international scene.”

MSJ Encore (Escolar x Caprimond) won Thursday’s PSG with almost 74%. He is also co-owned with Nicky and is the current 7-year-old National Champion. “He’s been a super horse to train,” enthused Michael. “He’s got a lovely personality and lots of charisma in the ring. He’s a big horse so he has lots of presence. We had a couple of mistakes but in his trot work he had 8s. You can trust his way of going and ride for the higher marks.”

Special performance
For Grand Prix horses there is not a lot of opportunity outside CDI shows to do something other than the Grand Prix Test. Vale View bucked the trend by running both a GP Special and GP Freestyle.

This was good news for Dan Greenwood who was able to try the Special for only the third time with Juliet Leighton’s Chevalier-O (Lord Leatherdale x Negro). “It’s good for them to ride a different test,” he said. “He felt really good and he’s on his best form ever. He’s 17 but just gets better – he even got a “wow” on his sheet from one of the judges. The Special suits him as the passage into extended trot gets him moving.”

Lara Edwards and Jazzed Up danced their way to victory in the Grand Prix Freestyle. Lara was pleased with the 14-year-old Jazz son’s performance despite a hiccup in the one-tempi changes.

“I could get them in the warm-up before the test but not in the arena!” lamented Lara. “Now he’s more established, I’ve created a new floor plan with a greater degree of difficulty which paid off as we score 7.5s and 8s for this. Lara has his music specially composed for him so is unique to her.

Child speech therapist Millie Gover won the 16-25 Grand Prix on her Belgian warmblood, Kamil T, pictured above. Now 13, Kamil was originally bought as a five-year-old to be Millie’s Pony Club eventer but later switched to pure dressage. Millie has brought him up through the levels herself and this was their second attempt at the Grand Prix.

“I was very pleased with him as we got stuck in traffic and only arrived 20 minutes before my time,” commented Millie who trains with Char Lasseter and Emile Faurie. “It’s big step up from the Inter II. It’s such a complicated test and everything comes up fast. Not many venues run the class so it’s hard to get practise.

“I was very pleased with the canter work and he got good marks. It’s definitely getting more consistent. We made some mistakes in the passage and missed a massive portion of it so only got 2s. At the moment, we either get the trot work really good or the canter work really good. My aim is to get them both good at the same time!”

Potential star
Iggy Pop BEK, pictured below, had a good show for Hannah Esberger-Hancock, winning Friday’s Inter I and coming second to Michael in the Inter II. She and her parents own the Dream Boy 10-year-old who was found for them in Holland by Henry Boswell when he was two.

He was rather a handful as a young horse. “He was idyllic as a three-year-old, but when he got to four, he was hot and tricky under saddle. I didn’t compete him until he was seven because I wanted to stay on! He’s not been an easy ride so it’s all the more sweet when he does well.

“It was nice to win the Inter I. He feels really established at the level. He got eight 8s on one sheet – they’re like gold dust! The standard is so high these days, everyone is so good you can’t make any mistakes.”

The Inter II was only Iggy’s fourth attempt at the level and his best score to date. “There’s still a lot more to come so I’m really excited. I can’t wait to do our first Grand Prix – but we have to wait until Mr Hester says we can!”

Hannah owns Iggy with her parents who have been staunch supporters of their journey. Her mum was at the show with her, her daughter Molly was grooming, and her dad was watching the livestream at home.

Ray-Ban, winner of Thursday’s Inter I, is returning to competition after a year lay-off and a potentially career-ending condition. “He had a failed wind operation and had to have a second and we didn’t know if he’d come back to competition,” explained Kate Cowell who has been riding Jonny Clarke-West’s Royal Doruto gelding for seven years.

“It was an emotional win. He was thrilled to be back out competing and very excited in the warm-up. But once he heard the bell go, he changed and he was on cruise control. I was so chuffed with him – I love the bones of this horse.”

Wednesday’s Inter I was won by the consistent Higgens Van De Uilenhoek who had two top 10 placings at last year’s National Championships at the level. Emma has owned the Connoisseur 11-year-old since an unbacked three-year-old and is being encouraged by her trainer, Amy Woodhead, to push on towards Grand Prix.

“He’s a pretty straightforward chap,” said Emma who is a BDCC Level 3 dressage coach and equine body worker. “He’s quite confident in the arena so I get the work I have at home. He’s getting more cadence and expression and his canter pirouettes have got a lot better as his suppleness has improved. He always tries his best and doesn't let me down.”

Tahley Reeve-Smith enjoyed the social side of the show, meeting up with friends and enjoying the time, as much as her first and third placings in the PSG classes with her partner in fun, Woodcroft Valentino.

The 10-year-old Vitalis gelding was bought by mum, Susan Smith, as a three-year-old and Tahley and Frank have made steady progress up the ranks. “He’s won a regional at every level up to Advanced Medium,” commented Tahley. “He’s the most amazing horse despite being 18.1hh and miles too big for me. He’s massive yet he can collect and pirouette. He’s learning how to use his body more and more and he has a personality that everyone loves.

“It was 28 degrees so for the warm-up I basically walked him up and down in the shade and it paid off. We made a couple of mistakes but he’s now through to the Nationals.”

Tahley co-owns Frank with Jetta O’Kane who she acknowledges has been a great support.

Rowan Bryson is glad to be back in the saddle with Izonik (Glock Zonik x Jazz), pictured above, and won Wednesday’s PSG and was second in Thursday’s Inter I. ‘Zonik’ was bought by Rowan and Kerry Mackin as a two-and-a-half-year-old, with Rowan buying the other half after he won the five-year-old National Championship.

“I gave up the ride last March as I thought he was too much horse for me to ride and I was putting too much pressure on myself. He did very well with Katie Bailey last year. Henry Boswell was riding him for me earlier this year and then I rode him for a week while Henry was away and I found I liked him! He hasn’t put a foot wrong and I can really work with the feel he gives you.

“It was hot but he had power and energy and kept the lid on without mistakes creeping in. It was definitely good preparation for the Hartpury CDI. I now feel I can ask for more power without losing marks for accuracy.”

Charlotte Drakely was a double winner with Florisco (Floriscount x Sandro Hit) when they took first place in both the Advanced Medium and PSG freestyle classes. The 11-year-old is co-owned with Clare Russell and they have owned him for two-and-a-half years.

“I’m so proud of the development of Florisco’s confidence at Vale View,” commented Charlotte. “He’s taken a little time to take in the bigger competitions’ atmosphere. We had a great time dancing round the arena together and I’m looking forward to future developments at this level.”

Anna Wilson was first and second in Friday’s Advanced Medium with Escojunio Ballante (Escolar x Diamond Hit) and Ivano II. Escojunio was also in the top three in the other two Advanced Medium classes. Anna bought him last year from Belgium and he has low competition mileage. “He’s proving to be reliable and consistent in the arena and we are becoming a partnership now. I’m hoping to do Small Tour next year with both of them.”

Young bloods
Hermione Tottman and Oscar Fitzgerald were double winners in their respective age tests.

Hermione and Exquisite won both Young Rider classes. Hermione competed at Hagen CDIOP in 2019 and was reserve for the Pony Europeans the same year. Since then, she and her mother Niki have established a business, Olivers Equestrian, sourcing top quality horses and ponies for ambitious riders.

“Our goal this year is to aim for international selection, with our ultimate goal over the next couple of years being selection for the European Championships,” explained Hermione.

“It was a quick turnaround to prepare for Vale View Premier League, following our return from Holland and Germany where we had been viewing horses with clients from Canada. Despite this, our results did not disappoint; I was very pleased to achieve two wins, and two international selection criteria scores.”

“Our main goal for Vale View was to build experience at the level, and maintain our momentum following a successful Wellington Premier League. On the first day, in the individual test (69.00%), some disappointing mistakes crept in during the canter work - however, our trot work received many 8s and 8.5s to keep our score up.

On the second day, in the team test (68.50%), we found our rhythm again. Exquisite is a very sensitive horse, however, I have learnt a great deal from working with him and we are looking forward to continue progressing during the up-coming Premier League and High Profile Shows.”

German Sports Pony stallion, S F Detroit, won both pony classes with Oscar. He is a dual-purpose stallion and in 2017 won an eventing gold medal for Britain with Georgina Herrling at the Pony Europeans.

“He’s been a very good event pony but didn’t fancy jumping anymore,” explained Oscar’s mum, Chloe. “Oscar has learned a lot from him – it’s a real shame it’s his last year in ponies. Oscar’s enjoyed the dressage but he wants to be an event rider. They’ve qualified for the summer regionals and after that he will go back to his owners.”

The Junior Individual test was won by India Hamilton-Burnet and her new ride, eight-year-old Kissingdale (Lord Leatherdale x Santano). He was bought only three months ago from international GP rider, Sarah Millis, who trained him from a two-year-old and will continue to train the pair.

“India got her first pony when she was 10 and has taken part in BD Youth Southwest inter-regionals and home internationals and was part of the National Academy last year,” explained India’s mum, Alex. “We first saw him in January when Sarah was competing him at Vale View. He’s a lovely horse and we’re lucky to have him. Our goal is to get on the team next year.”

Congratulations to everyone who took part, particularly as the weather was so hot. Competitors praised the friendly atmosphere and excellent organisation, so well done all.

Results: top three
Wednesday 21 June
TopSpec Medium 75
1. Sarah Wilkinson and Ji Alda, 69.93%
2. Anna Wilson and Escojunio Ballante, 69.5%
3. Bridget Tate and Francesco S, 69.19%

Bret Willson Dressage International Advanced Medium 96
1. Michael Eilberg and EDH Saubermond, 69.67%
2. Anna Wilson and Escojunio Ballante, 68.82%
3. Bridget Tate and Francesco S, 67.63%

Advanced 102
1. Anna Wilson and Ivano II, 69.34%

Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
1. Emma Jablonski and Higgens Van De Uilenhoek, 70.48%
2. Jane Critchley and Tantoni Dallaglio, 68.33%
3. Jane Morris and Silverstar Z, 67.74%

Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
1. Rowan Bryson and Izonik, 70.48%
2. Nikki Barker and Dan Icarus, 69.95%
3. Emma Jablonksi and Higgens Van De Uilenhoek, 69.79%

Stübben Intermediate II
1. Michael Eilberg and MSJ Dante VX, 76.03%
2. Becky Moody and James Bond II, 71.81%
3. Davy Harvey and Hawtins Rossana, 70.25%

Thursday 22 June
FEI International British Young Horse 5yo
1. Nikki Crisp and SJL Niko, 78.60%
2. Gillian Davison and Siskin, 76.40%
3. Alex Chick and Woodcroft Nolan, 74.40%

FEI International British Young Horse 7yo
1. Gillian Davison and Llorente, 70.79%
2. Toby Hewlett and Woodcroft Lambourgini, 61.52%

LeMieux Grand Prix
1. Michael Eilberg and Figlio, 69.57%
2. Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus, 69.42%
3. Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Bella Ruby, 69.09%

Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
1. Michael Eilberg and MSJ Encore, 73.92%
2. Mary Pritchard and Unison King, 70.93%
3. Tahley Reeve-Smith and Woodcroft Valentino, 71.39%

Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
1. Kate Cowell and Ray-Ban, 73.33%
2. Rowan Bryson and Izonik, 69.36%
3. Georgina Day and Summerhouse Delano, 69.17%

Brett Willson International Advanced Medium 98
1. Lucinda Elliott and Hawtins Quattro, 72.63%
2. Becky Moody and Magic Dream, 72.50%
3. Anna Wilson and Escojunio Ballante, 71.70%

Friday 23 June
Young Rider Individual Test
1. Hermione Tottman and Exquisite, 69.07%
2. Beau Williams and Ipurus, 68.87%
3. Faye Heppelthwaite and Armagnac, 68.14%

Junior Individual Test
1. India Hamilton-Burnet and Kissingdale, 67.99%
2. Crystal Robinson-Long and High-Quality, 67.4%
3. Emma Horgan and Hennessy T, 67.01%

Pony Individual Test
1. Oscar Fitzgerald and SF Detroit, 71.98%
2. Mimi Kempster and Che Bello, 69.05%
3. Bracken Parkhouse and Bathley Hills Vue Parfaite, 66.67%

Grand Prix 16-25
1. Millie Gover and Kamil T, 64.61%
2. Bridget Tate and Daltrey, 64.41%

Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
1. Hannah Esberger-Shepherd and Iggy Pop BEK, 72.35%
2. Nikki Barker and Dan Icarus, 70.88%
3. Mia Mordecai-Smith and Innocent, 69.02%

Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
1. Tahley Reeve-Smith and Woodcroft Valentino, 69.12%
2. Toby Hewlett and Woodcroft Icon, 69.07%
3. Alexandra Snape and Da Vinci 299, 68.38%

LeMieux Grand Prix Special
1. Daniel Greenwood and Chevalier-O, 69.72%
2. Kimberley Siddorn and Dutch Class, 66.45%
3. Jackie Siu and Ekitof, 65.99%

Bret Willson Dressage International Advanced Medium 92
1. Anna Wilson and Escojunio Ballante, 69.32%
2. Anna Wilson and Ivano II, 69.19%
3. Jessica Parr and Foxcroft Juvat, 68.45%

Saturday 24 June
Junior Team Test
1. Crystal Robinson-Long and High-Quality, 67.53%
2. Emma Horgan and Hennessy T, 67.27%
3. Olivia Long and Lover Boy, 64.24%

Pony Team Test
1. Oscar Fitzgerald and SF Detroit, 69.38%
2. Mimi Kempster and Che Bello, 68,14%
3. Bracken Parkhouse and Bathleyhills Vue Parfaite, 66.29%

Young Rider Team Test
1. HermioneTottman and Exquisite, 68.58%
2. Beau Williams and Ipurus, 67.55%
3. Faye Heppelthwaite and Armagnac, 65.78%

Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold
1. Charlotte Drakeley and Florisco, 72.83%
2. Siobhan Heneghan and Humm, 68.92%

PSG Freestyle Gold
1. Charlotte Drakeley and Florisco, 68.81&
2. Zara Griffiss and Fairfield Allegro, 65.19%

Intermediate I Freestyle Gold
1. Ruth Edge and Jolene, 70.75%
2. Zara Griffis and Fairfield Allegro, 63%

Grand Prix Freestyle
1. Lara Edwards and Jazzed Up, 70.31%
2. Sally Bell and State Secret, 68.88%
3. Richard Hayward and Regal Ricochette, 68.38%

Stübben Intermediate II
1. Michael Eilberg and MSJ Dante VX, 75.74%
2. Hannah Esberger-Shepherd and Iggy Pop BEK, 71.32%
3. Davy Harvey and Hawtins Rossana, 70.2%

Bret Willson Dressage International Advanced Medium 96
1. Jessica Parr and Foxcroft Juvat, 68.68%
2. Siobhan Heneghan and Humm, 65.92%


Photo © Kevin Sparrow