NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships – Day five

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A full day of action from prelim to prix st georges brought the curtain down on the 2013 NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships.

Albion Medium Open Championship

The final competition of this year’s amazing NAF Five Star Winter Championships produced one of the most exciting results.  It was a case of David versus Goliath, little versus large or experience against raw talent when 13 year old Phoebe Peters riding mum Tracy’s pony SL Lucci blew the competition away to win the Albion Medium Open Championship.  Eilberg siblings Michael and Maria did their best to overtake the pint-sized powerhouse but the expertly ridden pony had the advantage with a score of 74.50%.  Michael was second with Alison Reddy’s Fuerst Sinclair on 72.43% with Maria just behind on 71.89% on Jon and Julie Deverill’s Half Moon Frizzante.

The prize giving was a fun affair; SL Lucci stands at 14.2hh while Fuerst Sinclair tops 18hh!  Plus, all the championship rugs are ordered for horses so the smart red Albion rug will be off to the seamstress for amending to Lucci size.

Phoebe and SL Lucci came together last February when her trainer Peter Storr spotted him having been a member of the Danish Pony team.  In just a few short months their potential was spotted and they were selected for the British Pony Team in 2012.

A happy Phoebe said; “I’m really pleased with how he dealt with the arena; he was so soft, relaxed and supple.  We couldn’t come early for the arena walk so just hoped for the best.  His canter is his strongest pace and he was great today, especially the simple changes.   I was also so happy with his trot half passes.”

Mum Tracy also added; “To win a medium open is amazing.  Phoebe has to ride him very differently for national classes than abroad in the international pony classes.  Here is much rounder where abroad they have to be more ‘up’.  She’s coped so well, I’m really proud of her, and Lucci of course!”

Phoebe combines school with her riding and admits it’s not easy but is set that horses will be her career.

The combination will be doing their best to secure selection for this year’s European Championships and are off to France for the CDIP soon.

Make sure you take note of the name Phoebe Peters…Carl Hester has already said she’s a future British Team member and today’s performance has put her well on the road to that goal.

Nupafeed Advanced Medium Music Freestyle

Emotions ran high in the Hartpury Arena when 17 year old Charlotte Fry stormed the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Music Freestyle with Mr L Connor’ Remming as part of an all-female top three.  

“It was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!  His medium canter was the best – he just flew.  This is just totally incredible,” said a delighted Charlotte. 

The horse was second here last year in the Friday gala Magic prix st georges when partnered by her mum Laura. Soon after their appearance, her health deteriorated and she sadly passed away last September.  Charlotte had been riding the horse at home since June last year.  “It took me a while to get to grips with him but since around February, we haven’t looked back.  He (Remming) basically felt I couldn’t ride but eventually he realised that I actually could!  Now I feel we’re a really good partnership,” she said.

West Lothian rider Jo Hamilton set the early pace with her and Lady Hope’s stunning black gelding Vivaldi V with a fantastic score of 74.28% and then had the long, agonizing wait to see if they could claim the victory. 

With just over a  handful to go, in came Charlotte and she rode an inspired test to music put together by Tom Hunt – the same score her mum had used 12 months before.  “It was for her PSG routine but I’ve adapted it to this level,” explained Charlotte.

Maria Griffin did her best to spoil Charlotte’s party with Adrian Baker’s D J but 72.33% left them some 4% shy of the youngster’s great score – a personal best for the combination.  By Flemmingh, Remming was spotted by Laura as four year old and he’s been with the Fry’s for 11 years so he and Charlotte have grown up together.  Laura did have grand prix hopes for the horse but Charlotte will campaign him for selection on to the British Junior Team this year and hopes he will take her on to grand prix in the future under the guidance of trainer Carl Hester. 

Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Areal Festival Championship

Being the trailblazer in the Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Areal Festival Championship didn’t put Leicestershire’s Ann Staines off as she led from start to finish with her own Herr Hickory.  However, it was by the slimmest of margins – just 0.2%.

A delighted Anne commented; “I had already made up my mind to just go in and ride my own test and not let what I thought the judge would want influence me.  I just rode to his strengths – the fact that he’s a little round bouncing ball!

Herr Hickory, by British Warmblood stallion Catherston Humbug,  has been in the Staines family for eight years and always focused on dressage.  “He’s just a sweetheart – the nicest horse on the yard.  Nothing phases him and we use him at home to babysit all the naughty youngsters,” said Anne who works full time as a nurse.

Anne now faces a difficult decision.  “I felt it was time to sell him but he’s been going so well and now with today’s win I’m just not sure I can!  It’s been an ambition to do an Inter I and II and possibly even grand prix as he can do all the work.  I’m just not sure now!”

Serena Gordon with Aronique were the close runners up on 66.18%

Equitop Myoplast Elementary Restricted

Talented amateur Allison Mercer from Beverley rode her seven-year-old German-bred gelding, Remix, to land the Equitop Myoplast Elementary Restricted Championship with 69.17%. “I’m so happy but very surprised – I couldn’t believe it when I heard we’d won!” said a delighted Allison after her lap of honour round the Hartpury Arena. “If he’s fired up, he’s on the edge, so I thought I’d play safe and keep it sweet. I didn’t think it would be enough – I thought there was more to give.”

Allison bought Remix (Royal Blend x Wolkenstein II) from Caroline Saynor about 18 months ago: “I couldn’t ride one side of him when I tried him, but I loved him and didn’t want to get off!” she confessed. “The attractive chestnut is stabled at Frys Dressage in East Yorkshire where Allison used to train with the late, much-missed Laura Fry. “I really struggled with his trot as it was so big and rangy, so for months and months all we did was walking and cantering. I could feel and sit the canter better so that’s what we did until he was strong enough to work in self-carriage. Now though, his trot is really good.”

Allison show jumped before taking up dressage four years ago. “At the time, Laura said to me “what are your aims?” and I said to enjoy the training and learn all the movements. I told her I didn’t want to compete. Laura’s response was “we’ll soon change that!”” 

Allison’s good friend Kim McKechnie was on hand to help her at Hartpury, “We’ve had a fantastic day,” she said.

Petplan Equine Preliminary Area Festival Championship

Young Lancashire dressage rider Hannah Grummett, aged 17, from Clitheroe rode Quivantos, her six-year-old Quidam-sired gelding to score a massive 78.18% in the morning’s first round qualifier to well and truly secure her place in this afternoon’s 30-horse ride-off. In their final round performance, the talented duo once again pulled out all the stops and posted 74.32% for victory by more than 3%.

“He was brilliant,” said Hannah, beaming. “It was windy and the arena boards were flying but he was absolutely fine. As he’s a young horse, I was mostly pleased with the way he behaved. He was a little tired in the second test but he did also do two novices yesterday so it’s to be expected.” 

Hannah bought the tall, attractive bay from her trainer Gilly Hinnigan who had imported him from Germany and backed him. Hannah has owned him a mere 12 months and in that short time they’ve gelled into a solid partnership. “He’s been amazing, the best horse to train. He’s always willing plus he’s great travelling and staying away.”

Hannah keeps her horses at home in Lancashire and works as a waitress in a local hotel. “It allows me flexible working hours which works well with doing the horses.”  

Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Open Area Festival Championship

Cheshire dressage rider Darcas Lever, from Warrington, riding Valentijn WG, an 11-year-old Dutch gelding she co-owns with Ian Holt, Darcas scored 67.21% topped the leaderboard in the Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Open Championship.

“I’m very happy,” said a delighted Darcas who completed her winning performance in blustery conditions. “He hates the wind so I was dreading it, but he kept so calm. He tensed a little then got through. I’m so pleased that he’s growing up. Two years ago at this show we came last in the Elementary Open with 58%!” remembered Darcas, “so he’s on the right track.”

Three and half years ago the athletic chestnut by Cabouchon came to Darcas for selling. She spotted his talent and, despite his quirky nature, decided to take a risk and buy him. “He’s exceptionally sharp, almost afraid of the leg which plays against him sometimes. Now though, he’s starting to gain in confidence, to calm it down.”

The sensitive Valentijn can overreact spectacularly but as Darcas explains: “He’s a lovely horse in the stable and none of his behaviour is malicious – it’s all in fear. He creates a lot of power and then frightens himself. I know him inside out though and by not reacting to him, by remaining calm, he’s becoming more secure.”

Darcas is based at Cockshot Dressage in Croft, Cheshire where she rents part of the yard and has competition liveries plus horses from other disciplines for schooling. She trains with Patsy Bartram and also does a lot of teaching herself.

Talking about her plans with Valentijn, Darcas said: “We aim to compete at Premier Leagues and prix st georges level this year. Long term I’d love to train him to grand prix. If we do we do, if we don’t we don’t – either way I’ll enjoy every step along the way.”

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