Wellington Premier League: Fiona Bigwood claims Grand Prix and Sadie Smith takes home £2000 prize
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Wellington Premier League (07 – 09 June 2022) had a lively buoyant atmosphere and the busy environment which is great experience for up-and-coming horses.
Fiona Bigwood rode a fluent and harmonious test on the 11-year-old Daytona Platinum (pictured above), a German-bred gelding by Dante Weltino. She has owned him since he was five and has trained him up the levels. He won the Grand Prix at Keysoe Premier League and was third at Hickstead Premier League earlier in the year.
‘Dino’ has learned to overcome his nerves and be braver in the arena. “Lockdown didn’t help as he didn’t get the exposure he needed,” said Fiona. “We’ve been working with Claire Gallimore to make him braver in new situations. He hadn’t been around the arena in Wellington before his test, but he trusted me once he was in there. He’s starting to show the quality of work in the arena he gives me at home.”
Caroline Chew, who rides for Singapore, rode a smooth, clean test on her Tokyo Olympic contender Tribiani, to take second. “He hasn’t been out since London last year so I was pleased with how he went. He was feeling very pleased with himself and has been quite cheeky at home,” she commented.
Anna Ross completed the podium with her expressive grey mare, Habouche (Ampere x Sydney). “She’s only 10 is still a bit green,” explained Anna. “She’s got loads of quality and talent for piaffe and passage. She’s a big mover so it’s taken her time to learn how to close her frame. She’s a proud mare who likes to know what she’s doing and she’s beginning to understand the Grand Prix test now.”
Wellington has always been a proud promoter of freestyle classes. Their prize pot of £2750 for the Prix St Georges (PSG) freestyle gala evening, sponsored by Nirvana Spa, is the richest in British dressage. Last year, Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep lifted the prize; this year, it was the turn of local rider, Sadie Smith.
Sadie has recently returned to Hampshire after a number of years at Carl Hester’s yard and a stint in Holland. She part-owns her ride, British-bred Swanmore Dantina (Dante Weltino x Charatin), with Steve Reddings. ‘Dia’ is the current BD 6YO Young Horse Champion and is a very exciting prospect for the future.
Sadie only decided to do the class two days before the show, encouraged by Dannie Morgan. “We were sitting in the café where the cheque for £2000 was on display. Dannie encouraged me to give it a go. She’s still quite green in the changes but had done well to come second to Charlotte in the Advanced Medium. She said ‘Go for it!’ too, so I thought I’d give it a try,” commented Sadie. “Tony Hobden of Equidance turned round my music in a day using tracks I’d previously used for another horse. I had no chance to practise but it worked pretty well. I thought I was a bit ahead at the start and then was chasing the canter but we finished in the right place.
“She’s such a good girl. She never gets fazed. When she was young, she wasn’t really extravagant but now she is stronger her trot has lots of lift. She loves rising to the occasion. I’ve ridden a lot of top horses at Carl’s and she gives me the same feeling.”
Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus had to settle for runners-up for the second year running, although their Cats programme put a smile on everyone’s faces. Nathalie Kayal’s third place with Woodcroft St Emilion (Painted Black x Jazz) was achieved despite riding with broken ribs and scapula after a fall in April. Who says dressage riders aren’t tough?
Andrew Gould has an exciting new horse on his yard – Tatiana Skillman’s Negro stallion, Indigro (pictured above), who won the Stübben Intermediate II at his second show with Andrew. Previously in training with Dutch Olympian, Edward Gal, the black beauty has been with Andrew for just two months. Although it’s still early days, the partnership seems to be getting well established with the pair scoring almost 73%.
“He’s not competed since he was six so he’s having to learn his trade again,” explained Andrew. “This is a great start. The judges seem to like him and he got 9s from Judy Harvey. He concentrates and listens in the arena and really comes into himself in the piaffe and passage.”
Australian Grand Prix rider, Jayden Brown, was a double winner at PSG and Inter I with his attractive chestnut gelding, Willinga Park Quincy B (Quaterback x Desperados) - pictured above. Jayden worked for the Mount St John Stud before returning to Australia four years ago. He is now back for two years to campaign for the Paris Olympics.
Quincy is owned by Terry Snow, owner of the Willinga Park equestrian business, and Jayden has brought five of Terry’s other horses to the UK. Despite only arriving in Dorset 10 days ago, both horse and rider seemed fresh and with no sign of jet lag. Quincy is a much-travelled horse, having been bred in Germany and exported to Australia.
“He spent 24 hours sleeping after we arrived and then was ready to go,” said Jayden. “He knows the work so doesn’t have to train so hard. He doesn’t like hot weather so the British climate will be better for getting him fit.”
Anders Dahl and Tophojs Zackira took a first and a second in the Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges classes. Anders bought the eight-year-old (Blue Hors Jack x Sorrento) 15 months ago and the pair were Advanced Medium Gold Winter Champions earlier in the year.
“She’s extremely kind,” said Anders. “She can be a little bit fresh and feisty but can also be focused. She only made small mistakes in her test. She’s very consistent and will definitely be a Grand Prix horse. I’ll give her time and see how she develops.”
Angus Corrie-Deane completed his degree in Public Policy and Criminology three weeks ago and was straight back into the swing of training and competing his horses. He and nine-year-old Jack Johnson (Johnson x Scandic) - pictured above - were second to Jayden in Saturday’s Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I and won the class on the Sunday.
“He’s a great horse with a good sense of humour which can show in the ring,” commented Angus who bought ‘Jacob’ as a three-year-old. “He’s had an easy time for the last five months with lots of time in the field. He’s been back in work for the last three weeks and has done five classes and grown in confidence with each test.
“There are still a few little blips that need ironing out – like him trying to take over in the extended trot! He lights up in the arena and saves his best work for there. I was only 15 when we bought him, and he had only been backed for three weeks when I sat on him. I was terrified but mum liked him and insisted on buying him. I have to say she has a very good eye for a special horse.”
Sunday’s Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges was won by Olivia Oakeley riding her own Rock Diva (Rock Forever x Sandro Hit), despite having been ill all week with gastro-enteritis. “I bought her as a two-year-old and backed and produced her myself,” said Olivia. “At first she struggled with her nerves but is now coming into herself. I had to pull out of Wednesday’s class as I was laid up in bed and I’ve lost a stone in a week. She really looked after me – luckily she’s not a strong mare.” The pair has been selected for their first international appearance at Hartpury in July.
Full Moon II (Fürst Heinrich x Gribaldi), the current Novice Gold National Champion, continued her stellar career with a 91.4% score to take the KBIS Young Dressage Horse 6YO class. ‘Moonie’ is owned by Ursula Bechtolsheimer and ridden by Sarah Rogers. “For his age he already shows quality in his collected work while still maintaining an open frame. This allows him to develop without putting pressure on him. He’s an incredible horse and I can’t wait to see how he develops,” said Sarah. “He’s such a special character and one of the sweetest horses I’ve ever worked with.”
Sarah will be campaigning him in the young horse classes this year with the aim of being selected for the World Breeding Championships.
Alex Baker and Elite Dressage’s My Pride scored 84% in the BD International Young Horse 5YO class where more is demanded of the horse and rider than the national class. The Toto Jr gelding was bought from Holland last year. “Anna Ross saw him when he was stabled next to the horse she went to see and he came home with us!” said Alex. “He’s really adjustable [in his frame] and on his hind leg so he can manage the tighter turns and simple changes in this test. Beth (Bainbridge) is taking him out to qualify for the Nationals and I’m hoping to take him to the World Breeding Championships representing Ireland.”
The other young horse to breach the 80% barrier was Mezati, part-owned and ridden by Charlotte Dujardin who also won an Advanced Medium class with Times Kismet.
As usual, Wellington put on an excellent show, with three arenas running smoothly and with the sun cooperating for once! Thanks to the organisers, judges and sponsors and congratulations to all the competitors.
Results – top three
Tuesday 7 June
KBIS Young Dressage Horse 4YO
1. Katie Bailey and Nightrider, 77.40%
2. Mandy Day and Nikki-Vajaps, 76.20%
3. Jezz Palmer and Demeter, 75.60%
KBIS Young Dressage Pony 4YO
1. Carrie Passmore and Broomwich Wizard, 71.80%
2. Alice Perry and WFD Champagne Supernova, 66.60%
3. Leanne Bailey and Ghabar’s King of Bling, 64.00%
KBIS Young Dressage Horse 5YO
1. Charlotte Dujardin and Mezati, 81.60%
2. Jayne Turney and Penhaligon Freigeist, 78.20%
3. Lizzie Murray and Catherston Tuxedo, 76.60%
KBIS Young Dressage Pony 5YO
1. Lottie Kennedy and Gucci FN, 68.20%
KBIS Young Dressage Horse 6YO
1. Sarah Rogers and Full Moon II, 91.40%
2. Luke Baber-Davies and Vaudeville Carrus, 74.20%
3. Tom Goode and Margot, 72.20%
KBIS Young Dressage Pony 6YO
1. Melissa Dawes and Holly Berry, 57.00%
Wednesday 8 June
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
1. Anders Dahl and Tophojs Zackira, 73.58%
2. Lisa Hopkins and Liss La Belle, 73.63%
3. Sarah Higgins and Geniaal, 72.05%
Andrews Bowen Advanced Medium 98
1. Charlotte Dujardin and Times Kismet, 76.22%
2. Sadie Smith and Swanmore Dantina, 76.22%
3. Katie Bailey and Izonik, 76.43%
KBIS Young Dressage Horse 7YO
1. Stephanie Taylor and WGS Kapri, 69.92%
2. Alejandra Farina and Warjag WD, 67.60%
3. Elizabeth Allen and Vivaldi’s Myla, 64.15%
BD International Young Horse 5YO
1. Alex Baker and My Pride, 84.00%
2. Jessica Wade and Active Delmotte, 71.60%
3. Tom Graham and Carifioso Bot III, 66.20%
BD International Young Horse 6YO
1. Rowan Collins and Denzel Washington, 69.40%
2. Rebecca Cowderoy and La Vie Est Belle, 67.20%
BD International Young Horse 7YO
1. Sarah Millis and Kodora, 73.21%
2. Jezz Palmer and Ketcher B, 72.05%
Thursday 9 June
Advanced Medium Freestyle
1. Davy Harvey and Diamond Blue, 75.66%
2. Abbie Newbury and Seagry Firstamour, 72.61%
3. Sarah Stewart and Djoe Dimaggio, 72.38%
Friday 10 June
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
1. Jayden Brown and Willinga Park Quincy B, 73.28%
2. Anders Dahl and Tophojs Zackira, 72.64%
3. Katie Bailey and Izonik, 71.71%
Stübben Intermediate II
1. Andrew Gould and Indigro, 72.94%
2. Jackie Siu and Ekitof, 71.12%
3. Kim Siddorn and Dutch Class, 70.73%
Saturday 11 June
LeMieux Grand Prix
1. Fiona Bigwood and Daytona Platinum, 73.69%
2. Caroline Chew and Tribiani, 71.23%
3. Anna Ross and Habouche, 70.86%
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
1. Jayden Brown and Willinga Park Quincy B, 72.74%
2. Angus Corrie-Deane and Jack Johnson, 70.14%
3. Alexander Harrison and MSJ Top Secret, 69.90%
Nirvana Spa Prix St Georges Freestyle
1. Sadie Smith and Swanmore Dantina, 77.75%
2. Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus, 75.25%
3. Nathalie Kayal and Woodcroft St Emilion, 72.70%
Sunday 12 June
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
1. Angus Corrie-Deane and Jack Johnson, 70.58%
2. Nikki Barker and Iwan, 70.63%
3. Fiona Brennan and De Angelis II, 70.63%
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
1. Olivia Oakeley and Rock Diva, 71.42%
2. Alexander Harrison and MSJ Top Secret, 70.19%
3. Emily Ormerod and Freya FST, 70.19%
Photo © Kevin Sparrow