Winter Regional Championships: Netherton Equestrian
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Karen Dewar and Jo Barry were on top form at Netherton Equestrian Winter Regional Championships in Perthshire (24-25 February 2023), coming away with four qualification tickets apiece.
Karen described her triumph as “the stuff dreams are made of” as she and her eight-year-old mare Kianca (pictured above) took all the Novice Silver and Elementary Silver titles. She has owned the Dutch-bred Dreamboy mare since she was four and has trained her up the levels with the help of Ian Woodhead.
“She missed a lot of competition experience because of Covid but she’s coming into her own now,” explained Karen who is based in Falkirk and is a freelance coach and list 3 judge. “She’s getting more confident. I had some mistakes in the Elementaries on the first day and she was a little bit hot. On the Sunday she was brilliant, especially in the Novice Freestyle.”
Karen has already qualified Kianca for the Summer Regionals and has just contested her first Medium class.
Jo Barry is no stranger to regional titles and Karisma II (pictured below) added three more plus a qualifying reserve to her tally in the Elementary and Medium Gold classes. She won the Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold on over 74% and all her scores were over 72%.
Karisma is an eight-year-old homebred by San Amour and her mother Donnabel also produced Jo’s successful horses, Vivaldi V and Hidalgo II. She was third in the Elementary Gold class at 2022’s National Championships.
“I was most pleased with her Medium 75 test as it was the first time we’ve ridden through it in its entirety and only the fifth she’s done at the level,” commented Jo. “December and January were pretty much wiped out with the weather and she was hardly worked at all. I was short of time to get a new music programme so I used my other horse Goofy La Perle’s floor plan and music. A year ago it wouldn’t have fitted but now she’s got better self-carriage and paces, she fits the music.”
“I’ve been working on making the basics better as she finds the movements easy and the better the basics, the better the movements. I felt she was really on my side at the show and we did the test together. The judges commented on how harmonious the tests were.”
Jo was pipped to the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold regional title by Eilidh Grant and her successful seven-year-old homebred, Charming Duke (by Caesar 171). “We’ve spent the weekend training and I think he went the best he’s ever gone. I could really ride and ask a lot of him. I like doing the freestyle classes as I can show off how good his lateral range is. I used instrumental pop tunes for the Elementary programme. He’s got a clear rhythm in all three paces and the music emphasises this.”
Eilidh is hoping her 72+% score in the Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold will be enough for a wild card to Hartpury. Duke was very successful as a young pony, winning BD Young Dressage Pony Championships as a five and six-year-old. He is now for sale and will make a wonderful dressage pony for a youngster or adult.
The Superflex Inter I and Magic PSG Gold winner, the very talented Welsh Cob, Retanach Request, is also looking for a new home. Owner Nicky Heale has produced him from a five-year-old to Grand Prix level. Nicky initially bought him 11 years ago as a confidence giver after breaking her leg and his achievements have been beyond her highest expectations.
Although she was the sole competitor in the Inter I Gold and one of two in the PSG Gold, her scores were good and secured her qualifying places. “His PSG test wasn’t his best score, and it was strange to be the only one in the class. I just concentrated on getting a clear round and a qualifying score,” said Nicky. “It was the first time we’ve been to Netherton and he was a very good boy.
“My last bucket list item with him was to ride up the centre line at a Championship after all the big warmbloods. I’ve been doing a lot of hacking up hills to get his ‘dad bod’ into shape for Hartpury.”
This will be Rocco’s ninth visit to the Winter Championships. Nicky is also looking forward to doing some Grand Prix tests with him over the next few weeks.
Jade Whitelaw was a double winner. She won the HorseLight Medium Silver with Late Night and Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver with Dauphin III.
Late Night (Roodi) was the 2022 Winter Champion in the Elementary Freestyle Silver and reserve champion in the Elementary Silver. “I got Roodi (Gunner KS x Rousseau) as a three-year-old from Holland,” said Jade who trains with Jennifer Johnston-Harman. “He’s a sweet horse with a naughty streak! He’s a really smart horse who can do a lovely test if he behaves. He felt a little bit anxious at Netherton and wasn’t on his top form so I was glad to get a ticket. He’s still a bit green and can be less confident in the test. We’ll keep working away and hopefully improve before Hartpury.”
Jade has also qualified Dauphin for the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships at Inter I Bronze and PSG Bronze. Jade is based in Aberdeen and works full-time as a Process Engineer,
When you break your neck, the prognosis is often grim, and Aimee Aspinall has had a tough year fighting back to health. A win at Novice Gold, with 74.94%, with her Everdale mare Lavanya MC is probably one of the best tonics she could have.
Aimee was a successful eventer with a string of clients’ horses. She was Head Groom to Zara Tindall for five years and evented young horses for The Princess Royal. Her recovery included having a disc removed and growing bone within a metal cage to fuse a section of her spine.
She started riding five months after her surgery and admits the rehab process has been “brutal”. “I needed to get really strong so I’m probably the fittest I’ve ever been,” said Aimee. “I took Lavanya out in October and she qualified in one outing. She’s very special to me. She’s definitely got me through and pushed me to get really fit. I’ve got a sharper focus than ever before and for once we’ve had a run-up to the finals uninterrupted by the weather.” Aimee will head to Serena Pincus’ for some serious training before the Championships.
Jennifer Johnston-Harman has won over 30 regional titles in her career and added the Equitex Advanced Medium Gold and Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold to her total with nine-year-old Jazzman MFS (Wynton x Krack C). They were last year’s Morris Winter Regional Champions at Medium Freestyle Gold and in both Elementary Gold Championships.
Jazzman was bought as a foal from the Moray Firth Stud. He only recently returned to competition after injury and Jennifer credited Rachel Murray at Rossdales for her support and carefully planned out rehab plan.
“It’s been a long slow haul with rehab so it’s lovely to be back out competing again,” she said. “He’s a super horse who’s always got plenty of energy and is keen to go. It makes him a pleasure to ride.”
The Equitex Advanced Medium Silver title went to John Hill and Polly’s Wish (Wish Upon A Star x Primitive Rising). The pair are the current Petplan Equine Area Festival Advanced Medium Silver Champions and were reserve champions recently at PSG Silver at Northallerton Winter Area Festival.
Playing It Cooley, HorseHage Prelim Silver regional champion, was bought to event but is showing promise in the dressage arena too. His owner Louise Doherty trains with Karen Dewar who she credits for steering her into dressage. “I wouldn’t be doing BD without her,” she said. ‘Cedric’ (Cardento x Flagmount Diamond) will be fitting in several BE100 shows before Hartpury and she won’t be wrapping him up in cotton wool.
“Cedric is such a special young horse with so much talent in all three disciplines. We have entries in for Oasby, Lincoln and Kirriemuir BE100s before the Winters at Hartpury. Not your standard preparation for a dressage championship but I think the variety for a young horse is fantastic.” Cedric is kept at Sarah and James Oakden’s competition yard in Fife and the pair are an important part of her support network.
Karen Dewar also played a part in the successful HorseHage Prelim Gold bid of Mary Pearson and Spielrencio. Freelance groom and rider Mary has owned the five-year-old Spielberg gelding for two years and produced him with Karen’s help.
“He’s like a big dog, sweet and kind,” commented Mary “and easy to train. I never dreamed we would get to the Winters. “’Fudge’ felt really good in the test and was willing to do everything I asked.”
Chloe Milne had a baby girl last year so Cremmdalla Crem (De Chirico x Lorentin I) was at her first big competition for a while. They nailed the Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver. “She was a very big quirky handful as a young horse but she’s matured a heck of a lot,” said Chloe who bought the 13-year-old when she was four. “She was a bit ring rusty but we’re getting there. I’ll be adding in polework, cross-country and jumping to her routine to get her fit. She enjoys variety and it helps her to settle more.”
Chloe runs a DIY livery yard and cattery, based in Central Scotland.
Sam Turpitt had a disappointing time in the small tour silver classes where she was the only competitor. She achieved a qualifying score in the PSG but admitted that Bali Dancer was not at her best. “It was a frustrating weekend as she’s a phenomenal mare,” said Sam who is already competing her at Inter II and plans to embark on Grand Prix later in the Spring.
Congratulations to all the competitors and to the organisers, judges, stewards and volunteers who contributed to the smooth running of the Winter Regional Championships.
Results: top three
HorseHage Preliminary Silver
1. Louise Doherty and Playing it Cooley, 68.85%
2. Lisa Anderson and Cooley Cormint, 67.99%
3. Stephanie Lynch and Journeys Atlas, 67.87%
HorseHage Preliminary Gold
1. Mary Pearson and Spielrencio, 71.26%
2. Jade Whitelaw and Nancy I, 70.75%
3. Zoe Florence and Sweet Madness, 67.54%
Prestige Italia Novice Silver
1. Karen Dewar and Kianca, 72.96%
2. Emily Sutherland and Genson Blue, 71.29%
3. Emily Sutherland and IOLSH Gold Illusion, 69.81%
Prestige Italia Novice Gold
1. Aimee Aspinall and Lavanya MC, 74.94%
2. Melissa Chapman and Mind Over Matter, 72.16%
3. Nicky Heale and Lamborghini II, 68.27%
Equi-Trek Elementary Silver
1. Karen Dewar and Kianca, 68.80%
2. Katie Smith and Bella Vista, 67.81%
3. Elaine Taylor and Cullenbay Rhodolite, 67.50%
Equi-Trek Elementary Gold
1. Jo Barry and Karisma II, 73.70%
2. Charlie Hutton and Echo IV, 71.15%
3. Jo Barry and Headmore Bella Luce, 70.73%
HorseLight Medium Silver
1. Jade Whitelaw and Late Night, 69.32%
2. Chloe Milnes and Cremmdalla Crem, 67.25%
3. Paul Langford and Juno Regina, 66.94%
HorseLight Medium Gold
1. Jo Barry and Karisma II, 72.57%
2. Eilidh Grant and Charming Duke, 69.81%
3. Melissa Chapman and Handsome DHI, 68.74%
Equitex Advanced Medium Silver
1. John Hill and Polly’s Wish, 67.24%
2. Mhairi Niven and I Love You Too PC, 66.97%
3. Jade Whitelaw and Dauphin III, 66.23%
Equitex Advanced Medium Gold
1. Jennifer Johnston-Harman and Jazzman MFS, 70.31%
2. Melissa Chapman and Handsome DHI, 66.18%
3. Melissa Chapman and TCE Shine A Light, 65.88%
Magic Prix St Georges Silver
1. Samantha Turpitt and Bali Dancer, 66.23%
Magic Prix St Georges Gold
1. Nicky Heale and Retanach Request, 68.63%
2. Melissa Chapman and Inocencio DHI, 64.31%
Superflex Intermediate I Silver
1. Samantha Turpitt and Bali Dancer, 63.77%
Superflex Intermediate I Gold
1. Nicky Heale and Retanach Request, 67.16%
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver
1. Karen Dewar and Kianca, 75.28%
2. Sarah McLean and Achilles FS, 69.54%
3. Catriona Armstrong and Lockinge Celandine, 68.50%
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold
1. Eilidh Grant and Lebora, 74.91%
2. Melissa Chapman and Mind Over Matter, 71.94%
3. Nicky Heale and Lamborghini II, 67.04%
PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver
1. Karen Dewar and Kianca, 70.05%
2. Emma Haigh and Guess What 111, 67.81%
3. Elizabeth Rose and Sallandt’s Station Master, 67.18%
PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold
1. Eilidh Grant and Charming Duke, 75.45%
2. Jo Barry and Karisma II, 75.06%
3. Jade Whitelaw and Late Night, 74.04%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Chloe Milne and Cremdalla Crem, 69.89%
2. Jade Whitelaw and Late Night, 69.56%
3. Joanna McIntosh Sim and The Longhouse Floridonna, 68.94%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold
1. Jo Barry and Karisma II, 74.20%
2. Eilidh Grant and Charming Duke, 72.94%
3. Jennifer Johnston-Harman and Jazzman MFS, 71.00%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Jade Whitelaw and Dauphin III, 69.28%
2. Alice Pullem and High Fashion MFS, 68.11%
3. Mhairi Niven and I Love You Too PC, 67.17%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Gold
1. Jennifer Johnston-Harman and Jazzman MFS, 75.61%
2. Melissa Chapman and TCE Shine A Light, 69.33%
Photos © HKF Photography