Northern Region riders swept the floor at the Petplan Area Festival hosted by Sheepgate Equestrian on 6-9 July, writes Sian Lovatt.
Combinations from all over the county and beyond flocked to Sheepgate for one of the few remaining PetPlan Area Festival first rounds. This is the first year that the new Area Festival system has been put into place by British Dressage, following the restructure of rules and grading.
A new under-18 class at all levels has also been introduced, giving BYRDS riders a fairer chance to qualify for the finals, without putting them in the same category as senior riders.
Lincolnshire based Molly Rose and Nicole Nelson’s, Radway harlequin wowed the judges to score over 67% in the under 18 Novice class, securing their qualification to the Area Festival finals later in the year.
The 12-year-old St Hugh’s School pupil has qualified for both the prelim and novice classes, after winning the prelim class earlier in the year at Arena UK. The pair have also been selected to represent the Northern Region at the BYRDS Home International.
“I’m so excited, I can’t believe it! We’ve had an amazing year and I cannot thank Harley’s owner, Nicole Nelson enough for the opportunity to ride and compete him!”
Second place on the podium went to Lauren Geraghty and her own Holyoake River Phoenix who also won the under 18 Prelim class the day before at Sheepgate, also giving them two tickets to the finals.
Another rider picking up two tickets to the finals in both Prelim silver and Novice bronze was Emma Lee- Smith and Barnys Diamond Smuggler, who won both classes with two plus 70% scores, and 3% in front of second place, in both classes.
Jake Poynter and Dunlop finished second behind Emma in the Novice bronze class on 67%, also securing their qualification to the finals. The pair also finished on 65% in the Elementary bronze class, giving them two qualifications.
Not far behind Emma in the Prelim bronze was Lincolnshire based rider Sian Lovatt and her own Barrontop Ziggy who finished on over 68% to secure their ticket to the finals at Ziggy’s first attempt at an Area Festival.
Over in the Prelim Bronze, also based in Lincolnshire, Louise Pepperdine and her own, Larry, won the class with over 68%, securing their place on the podium and a place at the finals.
Two seemed to be the magic number over the weekend as another Lincolnshire rider, Alice Elliot and her own Chatsworth Chieftain were another pair to collect two class tickets to the finals, securing their places on the podium by winning both the bronze Medium and Advanced Medium classes.
A regular Area Festival and previous PSG contender, the Inter 1 silver winner, Oxfordshire based Nicky Jennings and her own Bodelicious have slowly worked through the levels together and won their class by a whole 3% – giving them a definite place at the finals.
Described as not the easiest horse to ride, Bodie was originally purchased by Nicky after she decided she wanted to have a go at dressage following a long career in racing.
“I could barely ride a circle and he’d never competed before, but slowly we’ve gotten here together and he just keeps on getting better!”
Combinations now have the opportunity to pick from 8 venues hosting the Petplan Area Festival finals, which will determine which winners go through to the finals held at Hartpury in the spring.