Winter Regional Championships: Arena UK

  • Written By: British Dressage | Joanna Bowns
  • Published: Wed, 31 Jan 2024 09:57

The much-anticipated 2024 Winter Regional Championships got underway earlier this month, with the first of the eight-part series taking place at Arena UK in Lincolnshire (17 – 21 January 2024). Twenty-two regional winners were crowned, with Anne-Marie Cowan, Elli Darling and Hannah MacMillan each sealing a winning double.

Elli Darling and her six-year-old AES licensed Oldenburg stallion, Vikander (Blue Hors Veneziano x Blue Hors Zack), pictured above, achieved a dual win by taking the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold and Baileys Novice Freestyle Gold on scores of 73.85% and 73.24% respectively.

Vikander was imported from Germany as a four-year-old through Supreme Sport Horses. “He was quite gangly as a four-year-old, also I was pregnant, so we didn’t do much for the first year,” commented Elli. “This last year has been his first out competing, and he’s been pretty much unbeaten, though it’s a big step to the regionals. He is incredible though. He will never let you down – he’s consistent, rideable, trainable, and gives 100%. He felt amazing.”

Elli, a BDCC Level 3 Coach who runs a competition yard at home in Suffolk, rode to Dr Who-themed music for the Novice and an Imagine Dragons compilation for the Elementary, both produced by Tony Hobden. “I first met Tony when I took part in one of his demos, that was with my old Grand Prix horse, and I’ve been hooked on riding to music ever since.

“Vikander will stand at stud this year, and we aim to step him up to Medium and qualify him for the Summers,” continued Elli, who trains with international Grand Prix rider Becky Moody. “I drag Becky down to Suffolk every few weeks! She’s a mentor as well as a coach, and always there on the phone when you need some advice.”

The Leicestershire duo of Hannah MacMillan and Brookeborough Lad, pictured above, was another combination to secure two winning tickets to the NAF Five Star Winter Championships at Addington Equestrian in April. Claiming top spot in the Equi-Trek Elementary Silver with 71.04%, they added the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver to their tally scoring 73.33% riding to music produced by Julie Geraghty.

“It was very unexpected,” said Hannah, who has owned the 10-year-old Irish gelding, known at home as Malochy, since he was a four-year-old and has produced him through the levels herself. “Although he's not bred for dressage, it has made me all the more determined to work hard and get the best out of him. He has no breeding in his passport and when I told one of the judges this, she said it just doesn’t matter.

“I’ve just let him have time to progress, and he’s a star,” continued Hannah, who trains with Lili Brooksby and Patsy Bartram, and runs her own dog grooming business a stone’s throw from the yard. “No one has ridden him apart from me. I’m 20 now and was still at school when I bought him. We’ve been through some rough patches but it’s been incredibly rewarding to see him develop.

“Lockdown was a turning point for us, as it meant we could focus on training at home,” added Hannah, who piloted the attractive grey to third place in the Medium Bronze at the 2023 Petplan Summer Area Festival Championships, and in 2022 claimed the Novice title at the Sheepgate BD U25 Championships together with the Elementary Bronze at the Petplan Summer Area Festival Championships.

“We’ve got the Winters to look forward to, we’ll see what that brings us, and we’ll continue learning the changes. I really look forward to one day riding a test with the changes in.”

Another combination to secure multiple wins was Hartlepool-based Anne-Marie Cowan with her bright prospect, the eight-year-old Dutch gelding Lumière L (Guardian S x Highline), pictured above. This consistently successful partnership posted 72.50% to top the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold, plus a 72.94% win in the Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold with music created by Gaynor Colbourn.

Anne-Marie took to social media to say, “So so grateful for Lumière, the horse who lights up our lives daily. There are a village of supporters who enable it to be possible for us to do this, thank you, each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart, and especially Lumière.”

The highest score across the non-freestyle gold classes came courtesy of Jenny Martell with her own DBM Secre-C (Secret x Krack C). Jenny and the five-year-old chestnut son of Secret won the HorseHage Preliminary Gold regional title with an outstanding score of 76.72% as well as placing second to Bethany Edginton and Nelson HD in the Prestige Novice Gold.

The highest score across the non-freestyle silver classes was achieved by the HorseHage Preliminary Silver winner Freya Percival, 15, with her 12-year-old mare Happy Vemma (Johnson x Kennedy). They posted 74.37%.

Clear winners of the Superflex Intermediate I Silver, out in front on a score of 71.86%, was India Durman-Mills with her prolific Junior and Young Rider partner Escade, pictured above. India (19) and the 15-year-old Jazz-sired gelding, who is owned by her aunt, Verity Saul, have two FEI Youth team bronze medals on their list of achievements - one at the 2022 Junior European Championships at Hartpury and the other at last year’s Young Rider European Championships at Pilisjászfalu, near Budapest.

India took to social media to say, “Eddie and I jumped straight into the deep end this afternoon, this being only our second outing at Inter I, but it was totally worth it to come away with a respectable 71.8% and first place. Eddie really is a wonder horse!

“Huge thanks to my trainer Gareth Hughes, without him no pirouettes would be possible! And of course my amazing Aunty Verity for warming me up and supporting me every step.”

Congratulations to all the winning riders and owners, and to everyone who took part. Thanks go to organiser Lauren Fogg and the entire team at Arena UK for hosting a successful Winter Regional Championships.

Results: top three
Wednesday 17 January
Class 1: HorseLight Medium Gold
1. Katie Bailey and Escomond, 74.73%
2. Jennifer Martell and MSJ Formula One, 70.54%
3. Louise Gallavan and Fabergé TF, 69.82%

Class 2: HorseLight Medium Silver
1. Laura Hill and Kensington I, 69.59%
2. Sophie Chatwin and Katharina-Trix US, 69.37%
3. Hilary Janion and Active Zeitgeist, 68.06%

Class 3: Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold
1. Anne-Marie Cowan and Lumière L, 72.94%
2. Martin Schleicher and Marvelous Taonga, 69.50%
3. Alice Peternell and Lucia-A, 69.39%

Class 4: Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Sophie Chatwin and Katharina-Trix US, 70.89%
2. Hilary Janion and Active Zeitgeist, 70.67%
3. Tabitha Leicester and Eires Rock, 69.11%

Thursday 18 January
Class 5: Equitex Advanced Medium Gold
1. Darren Hicks and Jack XXVI, 69.43%
2. Louise Gallavan and Fabergé TF, 69.17%
3. Jessica Knowles and Durable, 68.03%

Class 6: Equitex Advanced Medium Silver
1. Ella Garfoot and Impulz de B, 66.97%
2. Emily Coller and Ashley, 66.67%
3. Alison Timmins and Johnny Fletch, 65.83%

Class 7: Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold
1. Anne-Marie Cowan and Lumière L, 72.50%
2. Antonia Brown and Incredible, 70.00%
3. Alice Peternell and Lucia-A, 68.83%

Class 8: Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Ellie Roberts and Zante, 69.56%
2. Alison Timmins and Johnny Fletch, 69.50%

Class 9: Superflex Intermediate I Silver
1. India Durman-Mills and Escade, 71.86%
2. Antonia Brown and SJL Duuk, 66.96%
3. Jane Green and Hacendado XVI, 65.30%

Class 10: Superflex Intermediate I Gold
1. Mia Mordecai-Smith and Innocent, 68.97%
2. Tahley Reeeve-Smith and Woodcroft Valentino, 68.33%
3. Katie Bailey and Elinda, 67.79%

Friday 19 January
Class 11: Magic Prix St Georges Silver
1. Claire Ballantyne and Dvorak, 66.91%
2. Judy Hanock and Just Dance BH, 66.67%
3. Sofia Jankiewicz and Boularouz, 61.42%

Class 12: Magic Prix St Georges Gold
1. Judy Harvey and SP Bento, 69.71%
2. Tahley Reeve-Smith and Woodcroft Valentino, 68.77%
3. Alice Peternell and Cynheidrefawr Crème de la Crème, 67.35%

Class 13: Equi-Trek Elementary Silver
1. Hannah MacMillan and Brookeborough Lad, 71.04%
2. Laura Cooper and Woodlander Roxanne, 70.47%
3. Victoria Gilbey and Felissima, 68.18%

Class 14: PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold
1. Eleanor Darling and Vikander, 73.85%
2. Martin Schleicher and Marvelous Taonga, 68.14%
3. Kirsten Mayne and Habano GR, 66.28%

Class 15: PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver
1. Hannah MacMillan and Brookeborough Lad, 73.33%
2. Laura Cooper and Woodlander Roxanne, 70.32%
3. Cat Dalton and Derrentigue Bruce, 70.19%

Saturday 20 January
Class 16: Equi-Trek Elementary Gold
1. Alice Peternell and Vespasiano, 70.26%
2. Danielle Hardwick and Love Actually Wins MFS, 70.00%
3. Martin Schleicher and Marvelous Taonga, 68.44%

Class 17: Prestige Novice Silver
1. Jennifer Blunt and Dondolini, 70.80%
2. Philippa King and Madermus PP, 68.15%
3. Jordan Kavanagh and Flashdance GH, 67.47%

Class 18: Baileys Novice Freestyle Silver
1. Nicola Thornton and Fabergé I, 69.91%
2. Lauren Lanik and Sew N Sew, 69.72%
3. Hazel Theobald and Rubi Royal 2, 69.44%

Class 19: Baileys Novice Freestyle Gold
1. Eleanor Darling and Vikander, 73.24%
2. Bethany Edginton and Nelson HD, 73.06%
3. Robert Gilsenan and Fairytale Romance RL, 71.48%

Sunday 21 January
Class 20: Prestige Novice Gold
1. Bethany Edginton and Nelson HD, 73.58%
2. Jennifer Martell and DBM Secre-C, 69.01%
3. Tina Atkins and Fürst of Wales, 67.72%

Class 21: HorseHage Preliminary Gold
1. Jennifer Martell and DBM Secre-C, 76.72%
2. Bethany Edginton and Nelson HD, 74.71%
3. Samantha Jimmison and Lilling Hall Moment in Time, 73.39%

Class 22: HorseHage Preliminary Silver
1. Freya Percival and Happy Vemma, 74.37%
2. Oliver Gould and Miami Alana, 71.55%
3. Ishta Taylor and Koda (Troy), 70.86%


Photos © ATG Photography