Winter Regional Championships: Wellington Riding
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Active Delamotte delivered three golden national tickets for Jess Ralton at a high-scoring Winter Regional Championships. There was a lot of talent on display at Wellington Riding in Hampshire (25-28 February 2023) with six combinations scoring over 74% to win their titles.
Jess Ralton was thrilled with the performance of her ‘special mare’, ‘Della’ (Dimaggio x Fidermark) - pictured above, a six-year-old bred by Nicola McGivern. For Jess, who is a rider for Anna Ross’s Elite Dressage, it was extra-special to do the treble on her own horse.
“She didn’t have much success at Prelim or Novice,” commented Jess who took the Elementary Silver, Elementary Freestyle Silver and Medium Silver Freestyle Winter Regional Championships. “Really she’s a little advanced horse who is better with the more difficult movements – just doing circles not so much! She’s quite feisty and you have to be on top of her. She’s really come together in the last six months.
“I was quite emotional after the tests – we have a close relationship. I’ve done everything with her and she gave me three lovely rides. I had lovely music from Equidance – I have Ellie Goulding in the Elementary programme which really suits her athleticism. In the Medium the music is more powerful to suit the extensions and half passes.
“I’m very grateful to Anna Ross for all our training.”
The show’s top-scorer was Jody Haswell with a stonking 80.75% in the HorseHage Preliminary Gold with his stunning five-year-old Valentinio (Feinrich x Vivaldi). ‘Brian’ was bought from Holland after Jody saw an eight-second video and loved the way he moved. His record is already very strong – seven out of eight wins and seven scores over 75%.
“I backed him but he’s been brought on slowly as he’s massive – 17.2hh and all legs. He was too weak to do the four-year-old classes. This year we’ll do the Nexgen series and aim for the World Breeding Championships,” explained Jody who is based in Sussex and trains with Sarah Millis.
The youngster took the Championship atmosphere in his stride. “He was just the same as he is at home. He’s relaxed about life but still has enough pzazz to get 80%. He won’t do anything serious until he’s six or seven.”
Tong back on top
There were a number of double winners. Posting scores of 70.88% (HorseLight Medium Gold) and 75.28% (Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold) were Roland Tong and CHS Fonteyn. The eight-year-old mare was bred by Caroline Watson and Roland bought her a year ago.
“I’ve taken my time with her and just done enough shows to qualify,” commented Roland who has represented Ireland at international Grand Prix but has had a break from competing after selling his GP horse and building up his yard. “She can do everything at home but lacks exposure in the ring. I went to the Regionals thinking ‘Have I still got it?’ but my competitive edge is still there!
“In the first [freestyle] test she had lots of energy and was off the floor. She was a bit tired in the second test but when I looked at the video it was soft and harmonious.”
Both Advanced Medium Silver tests were won by Gareth Bulley and Hannah Lebon’s 13-year-old Lorentin I mare, Lorentina (Loti). The pair were first to go in a huge class so Gareth had a long wait before realising he had won the title. A strong performance in the freestyle put him back on the podium for a second time.
Dannie Morgan has a justified reputation for success with young horses and took both Novice Gold regional titles with Fever Tree (Foundation x Dayona). The five-year-old was bred in Hampshire by the Bowlake Stud where Dannie is based.
“I’ve known him since he was a foal and bought him after I backed him as a three-year-old,” explained Dannie. “It’s nice to own a horse that’s so special for the future. He’s an amazing character with three good paces. To be honest, Gordon’s perfect! He’s never been to Wellington before and was good in the arena.” The pair have benefited by being guinea pigs at demonstrations taken by Charlotte Dujardin and Daniel Bachman Andersen where the young horse was exposed to a big atmosphere.
Dannie also picked up qualifying tickets in the Elementary Gold classes with Vive La Reine VH.
The Prestige Italia Novice classes were very competitive in both sections. Dannie Morgan won the Gold with Fever Tree on 74.63% and Silver winners Charlotte Monk and First Class V (Fürst Heinrich x De Niro) were not far behind on 73.54%.
It was love at first sight for Charlotte who bought the six-year-old four years ago when she had just arrived from Germany. “I intended to buy a project but she isn’t going anywhere,” said Charlotte, who is a part-time dentist based in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. “I wanted to buy her even before I sat on her. Serena Pincus has been a great help with her.
“She’s a treasure and I couldn’t wish for a more fabulous horse. On the day I thought maybe I hadn’t done enough [to win] and put her back on the lorry. I didn’t know I’d won until I went to get my sheet!”
The Magic Prix St Georges saw a double for father and son duo, Andrew and Oliver Gould. Andrew aced the Gold title with Active Solaris and Oliver the Silver with Jane Howard’s Feiner Stern II.
Active Solaris (Sezuan x Fidermark) is another of Nicola McGivern’s British-bred stars. He is owned by Jo and Terry Barnett-Knott who bought him as a two-year-old and he has been produced by Andrew. The pair were fifth at last year’s National Championships in the PSG Freestyle Gold. “He’s relatively new to small tour. Last year was about him getting competition exposure,” said Andrew. “He’s started the season really well and this was one of his best tests. It was a big strong class. Solaris was very focussed and enjoyed his time in the arena. He’s still quite immature and playful like a young horse.
“Once Oliver had won his class I knew I had to pull something out of the bag.”
Oliver Gould is demonstrating that he has inherited his father’s talent and ambition for competing. He has been given the ride on ‘Fonzo’ to campaign at Young Rider level. “I’ve known Jane since I was 11 and she bought Fonzo for me to ride,” explained Andrew. “He’s a very genuine horse though not the easiest and a perfect schoolmaster for Oliver.
Calum Whitworth and Damaris S (pictured above) scored a personal best in the Superflex Intermediate I Gold of 72.5%. This was the nine-year-old Don Frederic gelding’s second regional title.
The Silver Inter I title was won by Shelley Reeve-Smith and her mother Sue’s homebred, Sinderella. The 18-year-old Sir Oldenburg mare has recovered well from a suspensory injury which kept her out of competition for a year.
“We did wonder if we’d get her back [competing],” said Shelley who was won a number of national titles with her. “She’s such a good mare – and loves a party! She’s such a trier and works with you rather than against you. She was so with me in the test. We could’ve had a little bit more of this or that but there’s always something to improve. She was super-consistent, listening and gave me a lovely ride.”
Para dressage star
Natasha Baker’s Keystone Dawn Chorus is no stranger to winning sashes, having been a key member of Britain’s successful Para dressage team for a number of years. At the moment Natasha is rather busy preparing for her first baby, so trainer Lisa Hopkins has taken over the reins and won the Equi-Trek Elementary Gold.
“We did four shows running up to the Regionals and all her scores were over 70%,” commented Lisa. “I’ll carry on keeping Lottie up and running until the summer. It benefits her to do able-bodied competition as she tends to know the [Grade 3] para tests too well and the able-bodied tests are varied and include canter.
“We’re hoping Natasha doesn’t go into labour early as her due time is close to the Winter Championships!”
The Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver title was won by Kent riding school proprietor Chelsea Donovan and her Irish piebald cob, Palatine Elsa. Chelsea brought her over from Ireland as a four-year-old and she is now owned by Jane Dyer. “Jane is one of my liveries and when my horse went lame she offered me Darcy,” explained Chelsea. “I planned to do the Area Festival but missed it so decided to have a go at Regionals as we had the qualifying points. I thought if I came in the top 10 I’d be happy!
“She’s a cracking horse and turns her hooves to anything. She loves her Lion King music. It was worth the 3.45am start!”
Lucy Amy and Millenium Falcon I won the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold and were third in the Prestige Italia Novice Gold. Last year they were Wellington Regional Champions at Novice Freestyle Gold and were fourth in the Novice Gold at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships.
Rob Barker took the HorseLight Medium Gold regional title with Damon’s Destiny, Vicky Archer’s 10-year-old Damon Hill gelding. “He’s very nervous and spooky but so talented,” commented Rob. “I’ve had him for two-and-a-half years and it’s taken me until now to get to know him. He’s got the most amazing mechanics so he’s worth pursuing. He hasn’t done many shows and the more he’s doing, the more relaxed he’s getting. The more he sits and engages, the more he breathes and relaxes. Every time he goes out he gets better. I’m very grateful that his owner is so patient with us.”
The Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold was won by Jezz Palmer and Carol Hurst and Melanie Morris’s British-bred Romanno Weltino. ‘Princess’ was third in the Elementary Freestyle Gold at the Winter Championships last year.
“She loves to work – she has to be first horse ridden,” said Jezz who said the seven-year-old Dante Weltino mare is the boss of the yard. “She’s a dream to train. She never says no. She’s a quick learner and we’ve had to hold her back so she doesn’t do too much too quick. She’s high maintenance in the stable but as good as gold once you get on. My wife Lucy was riding her up to the day before she gave birth!”
Another British-bred, Bermuda WD headed the HorseLight Medium Silver regional championship, ridden by Jack Boarder. Jill Graham bought ‘Billy’ (by Bordeaux) from his breeder Lindsey Roberts two years ago for Jack to ride.
“He very quickly became King of the yard!” said Jack. “He’s a huge character and a real people person. He thrives on being the centre of attention. He’s got an incredible work ethic and endless enthusiasm. He loves to please which makes my job easier. He can be a bit of a class clown and he struggles sometimes to keep a lid on it. This was the first time I came out of a test confident that everything went well.”
The pair has a wild card for the Equitex Advanced Medium Silver at Hartpury. “We’ve got high hopes for him. By the end of the season he should be competing at PSG.”
Eliza Bradford and Shannondale Gold Rush (Shannondale Sarco St Ghyvan x French Buffet) only started competing BD eight months ago, but their personal best of 73.85% was enough to win them the HorseHage Preliminary Silver regional title.
Results: top three
HorseHage Preliminary Gold
1. Jody Haswell and Valentinio, 80.75%
2. Robbie McNeill and Reventador78.97%
3. Richard Black and Nacho van’t Zuyderbosch, 75.63%
HorseHage Preliminary Silver
1. Eliza Bradford and Shannondale Gold Rush, 73.85%
2. Julian Agnello De Vaz Carreiro and Abildgaards Sensation, 73.16%
3. Maisie Morgan and Bright Rinco, 72.41%
Prestige Italia Novice Gold
1. Dannie Morgan and Fever Tree, 74.63%
2. Rose Hugh-Smith and Quintana 1, 72.90%
3. Lucy Amy and Millenium Falcon 1, 72.10%
Prestige Italia Novice Silver
1. Charlotte Monk and First Class V, 73.64%
2. Darcey Blaze Marcus and Tackmann’s Dark Deluxe, 72.22%
3. Caroline Passmore and Star Gazer, 71.91%
Equi-Trek Elementary Gold
1. Lisa Hopkins and Keystone Dawn Chorus, 74.11%
2. Dannie Morgan and Vive la Reinne VH, 73.65%
3. Katie Richards and Dixie Rose, 72.97%
Equi-Trek Elementary Silver
1. Jessica Ralton and Active Delamotte, 71.82%
2. Lucy Bridgwater and Monaco II, 71.30%
3. Emily Entwistle and Elarieta, 71.09%
HorseLight Medium Gold
1. Robert Barker and Damon’s Destiny, 68.56%
2. Robert Trobridge and Amazing Romance, 68.38%
3. Elizabeth Diegutis and Total Ecstasy, 67.84%
HorseLight Medium Silver
1. Jack Boarder and Bermuda WD, 69.95%
2. Maeve Morris and Headmore Footloose, 69.64%
3. Michael Bates and Huphill, 69.41%
Equitex Advanced Medium Gold
1. Roland Tong and CHS Fonteyn, 70.88%
2. David Harvey and Diamond Blue, 70.44%
3. Kate Cowell and Final Reign 106, 69.17%
Equitex Advanced Medium Silver
1. Gareth Bulley and Lorentina, 71.80%
2. Chris Hammond and Exclusive Gem, 69.74%
3. Evelina Shrieve and Insist TC, 68.95%
Magic Prix St Georges Gold
1. Andrew Gould and Active Solaris, 71.81%
2. Sadie Smith and Swanmore Dantina, 71.67%
3. Andrew Gould and Amicella, 70.49%
Magic Prix St Georges Silver
1. Oliver Gould and Feiner Stern II, 67.65%
2. Megan Assouline and Stald Lykke’s Black Magic, 66.32%
3. Celina Singh and Zadelisk, 65.83%
Superflex Intermediate I Gold
1. Calum Whitworth and Damaris S, 72.50%
2. Sara-Jane Lanning and Choice I, 69.66%
3. Andrew Gould and Amicella, 68.38%
Superflex Intermediate I Silver
1. Shelley Reeve-Smith and Sinderella, 69.26%
2. Rosamund Collins and Filligran, 69.02%
3. Paula Sherwood and Zepelin, 65.34%
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold
1. Dannie Morgan and Fever Tree, 77.78%
2. Jezz Palmer and Toddington Debut, 74.81%
3. Diane Grinyer and Jack in a Box, 74.44%
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver
1. Chelsea Donovan and Palatine Elsa, 72.69%
2. Melissa Storey and Fernside Dakota, 71.76%
3. Caroline Passmore and Star Gazer, 71.30%
PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold
1. Lucy Amy and Millenium Falcon 1, 73.97%
2. Jezz Palmer and Let’s Dance M, 73.53%
3. Dannie Morgan and Vive la Reinne VH, 73.46%
PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver
1. Jessica Ralton and Active Delamotte, 74.94%
2. Grace Blenkinsopp and Archangel I, 74.87%
3. Emma Hobbs and Fermillion, 72.69%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold
1. Jezz Palmer and Romanno Weltino, 72.44%
2. Dannie Morgan and Lord Optimism, 71.61%
3. Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Flintstone, 71.28%
Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Jessica Ralton and Active Delamotte, 72.89%
2. Maeve Morris and Headmore Footloose, 71.17%
3. Samantha Roberts and Moelview Prince Consort, 70.17%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold
1. Roland Tong and CHS Fonteyn, 75.28%
2. David Harvey and Diamond Blue, 73.94%
3. Kate Cowell and Joolz, 72.28%
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver
1. Gareth Bulley and Lorentina, 72.72%
2. Ruth Almond and Hightrick S, 72.11%
3. Megan Turner and Plains Timeless, 70.83%
Photo © Lottie-Elizabeth Photography