Winter Regional Championships: Little Mill Equestrian
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Winning Welsh ponies and raiders from over the border made for an exciting first Winter Regional Championship at Little Mill Equestrian in Carmarthenshire (24-26 February 2023).
The Winter Regional Championships held in Wales itself for the first time was celebrated with a rousing live acapella rendition of the Welsh National Anthem by famous Welsh opera singer and Little Mill livery, Shan Cothi. What a great way to start the day!
Laura Frost and ASA Mayadeux (pictured above) were the highest scorers of the show, winning the HorseHage Preliminary Gold with 74.02%. ‘Maya’ was bred by her owner Abby Smythe and is a six-year-old by Feydeaux. Laura has been riding her since she was four but she has been slowly produced as she was so big and Laura herself had time off to have a baby.
“She was as green as grass when she came to me last August,” recalled Laura who trains with Jackie Beavan. “She’s quite hot and super forward going but has an amazing competition temperament. She was sweet and super soft in her test. She hasn’t competed loads so it’s lovely to get to the Winters.”
Sophie Lawson and Welsh Section D Llanarth Magestic were the HorseHage Prelimary Silver Regional Champions with a 70+% score. The 13-year-old by Llanarth Prince of Wales is owned by Hannah Brock. “He was destined for the show ring but liked to throw in some extra moves!” explained Sophie who works full-time as a cardiac physiologist in Bristol. Eighteen months ago she had ankle surgery so the pair only started serious competition at the end of last year.
“I’m overwhelmed by what we’ve let ourselves in for! It’s going to be a great experience. He was really good in his test and tried his best. I can’t be upset coming away with over 70%. We’ve had a busy February as he also won the Beacons Equestrian Area Festival in the Novice Bronze category. At home he’s enjoying having a go at the Medium movements.”
Lisa Evan’s Welsh 12-year-old homebred mare Syfydrin Solitude (by Horeb Luke McCoy) took the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver in great style. ‘Soli’ is Lisa’s first homebred and she has been successful in showing as well as dressage. Lisa has produced her herself, while also having time out of the saddle to have her two children.
“She loves her dressage work and we’re trying to progress up the levels,” said Lisa who will be going to her first Winter Championships. “I feel she loves the music – it seems to light her up.” Lisa chose tunes from ‘The Greatest Showman’ which was put together for her by Equidance. Her floor plan was created with the help of Steph Croxford.
“It’s a dream come true to qualify a homebred for the Winters.”
Sara Squires scooped up three titles and four qualifications with her two horses. Six-year-old Van Kaunitz (Caspar) - pictured below - won the Prestige Italia Novice Gold, while Northcliff Delilah won both straight and freestyle Elementary Gold classes.
Caspar was bought from the Elite Auction as a four-year-old and in 2022 were the Howden Way 5yo Eventing Champions. He qualified last year for the Nationals in the Prelim Gold class.
“He’s very special,” commented Sara. “He could do either discipline. He’s very athletic with an uphill canter and very good balance for a young horse. We got lovely comments from the judges. I hope to go 2* eventing this year and move him up to Elementary dressage.”
Sara’s second horse, Delilah is owned by her friend, Karen Hart. “She’s very consistent but was a bit cheeky in her Medium test. For her Elementary Freestyle I used music from ‘The Holiday’ which suits her floaty movement.”
Sara also won at Chard Winter Regional with her Advanced Medium horse so has a total of five qualifying tickets for the NAF Five Star Winter Championships.
Maddy Frewin was in a class of her own in the Superflex Inter I Gold – literally. Although she was the only one of two competitors, her score of 69.17% was very competitive and will stand her in good stead for the Winters.
Maddy took on the ride on Mark Philpot and Nigel Sibley’s Blue Hors Dexter 18 months ago and with Jackie Beavan’s help has been having a lot of success with him. “He’s used to the PSG test so finds the Inter I rather exciting,” explained Maddy. “It gives him a lot to think about and it’s good to ride different lines. He’s very forward in the arena now and I’ve got more power which is important for the more demanding movements.”
Maddy is based in Malvern but felt the trip to Wales was worthwhile. “I loved Little Mill. It’s a great venue run by great people. I’d definitely go back there.”
As sole entrants in the Superflex Inter I Silver, Katy Applin and her 19-year-old Welsh part-bred Penstrumbly Abergwaun were out to have a fun time. “I thought let’s have a bit of a play,” commented Katy. “We had a big blip in the pirouettes which was expensive with three judges. I was pleased with his changes as sometimes he can take over and count for himself. I was very happy with him – he’s so cool.”
Isobel Goodwin has owned her Magic Prix St Georges (PSG) Silver regional champion, stallion Gameboys Welcome (pictured below), since he was three and has brought him up the levels herself.
“It was our first competition of the year so he was rather chucked in at the deep end,” explained Isobel who was claiming her first regional title. “He’s very unstallion-like. I got him when I was 14 and he’s so easy to handle. He gave me a nice harmonious ride.” Isobel trains with Nina Venables and Calum Whitworth and hopes to do an Under-25 Grand Prix this year with the Gameboy 14-year-old.
Isobel runs her own yard in Ilminster, Somerset and holds the BDCC level 3 coaching certificate.
Jacob Denham has brought Woodcroft Don Diego (by Don Crusador) all the way from Prelim to Prix St Georges Gold Regional Champions. The pair are now also competing at Inter I and won the Mount Ballan Summer Regional Championship last year at that level.
Amy Foster-Smith clinched the Medium Freestyle Silver regional title and was reserve in the Medium regional championship with her partner of two years, Kimberley SHR, an eight-year-old mare by Desperado.
“I’ve been training her up the levels and having a lot of fun along the way,” said Amy, who is a senior business analyst and trains with Serena Pincus. “She was a little bit fresher than normal so the trot work wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be!”
Mark Forrest and Flavio B’s (Fürst Romancier x Matcho Aa) training at home paid off with a good win in the Equitex Advanced Medium Gold. Mark bought the 12-year-old 18 months ago from Germany.
“I didn’t have a lot of expectations but he did everything and was light and forward,” commented Mark who is based at Court Farm Stud and trains with Serena Pincus and Carl Hester. “Everything came off and there were only a few moments of tension. The frame and energy were nice and his balance was good.”
Brendan Tegg followed up a recent second placing at Advanced Medium Silver at Beacons Winter Area Festival with a win in the HorseLight Medium Silver. Foxcourt Solar Eclipse is an eight-year-old gelding by Sunset Boulevard and the pair went to Winter Championships and National Championships in both 2021 and 2022.
Vikki Pengilly’s HorseLight Medium Gold regional champion, Hot Couture III (by Hotline) has been with her since she was three and Vikki has produced her up the levels. This was her first regional title. “It was nice to do it at the first regional in Wales,” said Vikki who has a training yard near Cardiff. “She’s quite a sensitive mare but she tried hard and gave me everything. She definitely has talent for the higher levels.”
Steffie Bryant and Margaret Cuff’s Leaping Lord are in their first season together and got off to a great start with a win in the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver. “We are still figuring each other out and our straight Elementary was a disaster!” commented Steffie. “Ollie used to event up to 4* so is now learning life as a dressage horse. He can warm up brilliantly and then turn into a demon as soon as gets between the white boards. I was pleased he stayed with me for the majority of the test. He’s a real gentleman – just not always between the white boards!”
Steffie chose music from the film ‘Shrek’ for Ollie to dance to. She and Ollie train with Gareth Hughes and David Trott.
Congratulations to everyone who took part and to the organisers, judges and volunteers who made Little Mill’s first Regionals such a success.
Results: top three
HorseHage Preliminary Silver
1. Sophie Lawson and Llanarth Magestic, 70.40%
2. Sophie Mansell and Bravo Freckles, 70.29%
3. Helen Thompson and Lyndell Misitify Max, 66.49%
HorseHage Preliminary Gold
1. Laura Frost and ASA Mayadeaux, 74.02%
2. Brendan Tegg and Clynebank Lilly, 71.32%
3. Victoria Powell and W W Wilbur Mac, 70.46%
Prestige Italia Novice Silver
1. Lucie Stokoe and Led Zeppelin, 70.43%
2. Alys Matravers and Vorvashill Vertigo, 68.77%
3. Kizzie Lucas and Candita, 67.65%
Prestige Italia Novice Gold
1. Sara Squires and Van Kaunitz, 71.48%
2. Bryony Goodwin and Caederwen Lady Elinor, 71.36%
3. Lucy Straker and Zocalo, 67.72%,
Equi-Trek Elementary Silver
1. Lucie Stokoe and Led Zeppelin, 68.80%
2. Silvia Lunnon and Heathersedge HRH, 66.51%
3. Cethin Ravenhill and Project Vilmar, 65.99%
Equi-Trek Elementary Gold
1. Sara Squires and Northcliff Delilah, 69.9%
HorseLight Medium Silver
1. Brendan Tegg and Foxcourt Solar Eclipse, 70.27%
2. Amy Foster-Smith and Kimberley SHR, 66.89%
3. Amanda Leaker and Fanon Lilybet, 66.76%
HorseLight Medium Gold
1. Vikki Pengilly and Hot Couture, 69.28%
2. Lucy Straker and Didjeridu, 19.19%
3. Darren Hicks and Kinnear, 67.16%
PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver
1. Steffie Bryant and Leaping Lord, 70.45%
2. Jo Freeman and Chalk II, 68,14%
3. Lucie Stokoe and Led Zeppelin, 67.82%
Equitex Advanced Medium Silver
1. Lucie Stokoe and Dolores II, 64.04%
Equitex Advanced Medium Gold
1. Mark Forrest and Flavio B, 71.23%
2. Levi Hunt and Fandango V, 69.61%
3. Mark Forrest and Fidel Von Singing, 69.43%
Magic Prix St Georges Silver
1. Isobel Goodwin and Gameboys Welcome, 66.81%
Magic Prix St Georges Gold
1. Jacob Denham and Woodcroft Don Diego, 67.79%
2. Levi Hunt and Fandango V, 66.03%
3. Mark Forrest and Fidel Von Singing, 65.78%
Superflex Intermediate I Silver
1. Katy Applin and Penstrumbly Abergwaun, 63.63%
Superflex Intermediate I Gold
1. Maddy Frewin and Blue Hors Dexter, 69.17%
2. Stef Eardley and ASA Sirenka, 62.94%
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver
1. Lisa Evans and Syfydrin Solitude, 70.28%
2. Lucie Stokoe and Led Zeppelin, 69.07%
3. Alys Matravers and Vorvashill Vertigo, 68.98%
PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold
1. Sara Squires and Northcliffe Delilah, 71.73%
2. Bryony Goodwin and Hawtins Firenze, 70.51%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Amy Foster-Smith and Kimberley SHR, 68.72%
2. Lucie Stokoe and Dolores II, 67.67%
3. Chantelle Oliver-Symonds and Stadmorslow Coffee N Cream, 67.00%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Lucie Stokoe and Dolores II, 63.06%
Photos © Powell Photography