Thursday 13 April - 23h58 | Winnie Murphy
Charlie On the Double At First Day of Winter Championships
Day one of the NAF Five Star Winter Championship at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire (12 – 16 April 2017) produced seven worthy champion, one 80%+ score and one double winner.
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver
The very first horse and rider down the centre line at Hartpury, led from the off to win the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver title. After a 3.30am alarm call, Jess Bennett (30) and JB Dukaat, her neat, Dutch-bred nine-year-old set the standard with 70.75% and were ultimately the ones to beat.
“I couldn’t be happier with him,” smiled Jess after the prize-giving. “He’s competed here before but ended up last as he couldn’t cope with the arena! I was expecting him to be wild so I kept him quiet working in – I thought ‘I won’t whizz him up’, but I needn’t have worried – he has really grown up.”
Jess bought JB Dukaat (Westernwind x Son of De Niro) as an unbroken four-year-old. “I saw a video of him loose in a field, then when we viewed him I thought ‘he’s very small’. But, there was something in him I saw, there was just something about his movement and presence.”
Bristol-based Jess who has her own yard in her ‘grandparents’ back yard’ works as a freelance rider and trainer, and trains monthly with dressage supremo Carl Hester. Known to his friends as Joey, the athletic bay, who’s described by Jess as being straightforward to train, enjoys trips the gallops and hacking around the Badminton estate as part of his training programme.
Petplan Equine Intermediate I Silver
Hampshire rider Debbie Poynter was the first Petplan Equine Area Festival winner of the Championships. With her good-looking son of Florencio, Keystone for Real, she scored 68.68% to seal victory in the Petplan Equine Intermediate I.
“I’m shocked really, he’s an awesome horse,” said Debbie, clearly overjoyed. “He can get amazing results even with mistakes. It happened today - I was nervous and made a mistake in the three-tempis - but he did everything that was asked of him. I was thrilled with the test.”
Debbie runs a canine hydrotherapy and massage centre. She specialises in the rehab of dogs with orthopaedic injuries which she describes as the ‘most satisfying job’. And Keystone For Real aka Realy is kept at livery. “I’m a true one-horse amateur and I have to say a huge thank you to Petplan for giving non-professionals like me a chance to shine. It’s such a good experience!”
Twelve-year-old Realy was purchased at four from Suzanne Lavandera, Debbie recognising his obvious talent the moment she saw him on the lunge. But their path hasn’t been plain sailing; “He was very sharp and quite neurotic as a baby and even now he can be quite suspicious.”
The talented partnership has a great rapport however and they’re heading towards Inter II with the help of trainer Nicola Buchanan. “His hind legs go for England and it can be quite hard for him to accept the collection as he loves to power forward.”
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Silver Freestyle
Eight tests, eight wins…quite the strike rate. That’s the record for Christian Landolt and his latest equine star, Liss La Belle but this latest win is a special one as it brought them the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Silver Freestyle title with 80.37%, nearly five percent ahead of the chasing pack. Although just six, Christian, himself a 4* FEI eventing judge, has high hopes for the Lissaro x Laurentianer mare. He discovered her on a shopping trip in Germany in the yard of Simon Kilnebrenner where he had an older, more experienced horse on his list, but “it was love at first sight”, said Swiss-born Christian. “She was already sold to someone else but luckily for me, she failed the vet!”
A patron of the Skye Terrier Club, Christian was in two minds as to come and compete in the Championship today. “She’s done so little and is still quite weak so I wasn’t sure she was ready. But, you never know what young horses will do at their first Championship, you have to come and play. She’s just amazing. She’s not fazed by anything; whatever you do, school, hack, on the gallops, you get the same. She was a little introverted in the test but in the end, felt just like she does at home.” Plus, a ‘kick up the bum’ from trainer Carl Hester helped to make up his mind!
Music tests weren’t really in the plan for Christian but he wanted to get his Novice qualification under his belt and local venue Summerhouse were running both straight and freestyle classes so he thought ‘why not’. He contacted Natasha Baker, whom he owns to horses for, but her music all is just walk and trot as a Grade III para rider so it was friend Nicky Hand who came to his rescue with her music which features Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Singing in the Rain. “I give her a box of chocolates each time I use it and they get bigger each time so today’s will have to be huge!” laughed Christian.
So might Christian be tempted to hand Liss La Belle over to Natasha for a new para dressage career? “No way!” exclaimed Christian. “Natasha certainly has an eye on her but she already has two lovely horses of mine, I only have one!”
Second was Alicia Laughton with Armada Donna Bella on 75.46% and third went to Jade Vale and Prinzessin K with 73.89%.
Petplan Equine Elementary Silver Area Festival
Worcestershire rider Sandra Tizzard made every minute of a long day count to win the Petplan Equine Elementary Silver Area Festival. Riding her own Bonifatius x Weltmeyer sired Keystone Bravo, Sandra was second in at just after 8:00 this morning and had ‘a disaster’ to score 65.69%. “I made a few big errors and it did not go to plan! He was a bit star struck and very hot,” explained Sandra. So began the long wait to see if that score was enough to secure the required top 15 place to progress to the second round. Indeed it was but the bad news for Sandra was that she was drawn first.
A change in warm up tactics paid off and Sandra, who has been a Carl Hester pupil for 12 years, went in and threw down the gauntlet with a stunning 73.16%. “I knew it was a good test when I came out; I was thinking 70%+. We kept him quiet in the warm up and the first class took the edge off which meant he was really ridable.” So it was a long wait of 29 further horses but no one could better the score and the title belonged to Sandra.
Sandra, who combines her riding with a career in telecommunications and IT, purchased ‘Teddy’ as a three year old from Susanne Lavandera of UK Hanoverians as a licencsed Oldenberg stallion who was selling him as he wasn’t ‘hot enough’ for her. “We had him cut as he was just too distracted and we knew that we didn’t want to use him for breeding,” explained Sandra. She feels he has the talent to take her on to small tour and is hoping to make her Grand Prix debut in time with him.
Sandra said her success is down to having a fantastic team around her including her vet, farrier, physio, Cath Prima, who helps three days a week and her husband Alan. The duo has a further chance to take another title home to Worcestershire on Friday in the Blue Chip Novice Silver Championship.
Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Silver Area Festival
Welsh raider Vikki Pengilly made a late charge to steal the Petplan Equine Area Festival Advanced Medium Silver Championship with her own Zion E with 69.02%, leaving long time leaders Rebecca Baybutt and Hey Mambo in runners up spot. The 13-year-old gelding is certainly bred for the job with Jazz for a sire and De Niro for a granddad.
“He won his Petplan [Equine Area Festival], then earlier this year won his Regional in the Advanced Medium Freestyle and now he’s won this – we’re very happy to say the least!” exclaimed an ecstatic Vikki. “The test today was actually a little hit-and-miss at times; there were a few not perfect moments but when we watched the video back and looked at the judges’ comments, he was lovely.
“He’s quite sharp – he was very sharp today – and can be quite hot to ride but once he’s on side he’s very giving and will always try his best”
Having found each other just over a year ago through the British Dressage classifieds, Vikki and her partner fell in love straight away. “I’d just retired my Advanced mare and we were in two minds whether to get another horse or not, but then I saw his advert and we’re very glad we did!”
The pair trains with Gareth Hughes and has started work towards Prix St Georges, with the aim to start competing at the level later in the year. But first, there’s Sunday to look forward to as they’re contesting the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold Championship.
Spillers Medium Silver Freestyle
Dorset’s Charlie Sawyer reigned supreme in the Spillers Medium Silver Freestyle aboard Sarah Sawyer’s 13-year-old gelding, Chico Too. With a comprehensive floorplan, created by Sara-Jane Lanning, to the beat of Coldplay, the dynamic duo scored an impressive 72.56% to claim the title.
“He felt very good in the Medium,” announced Charlie, who trains with Carl Hester. “Sometimes, because he’s quite a big horse and so laid back it’s quite easy for him to go a little bit lollopy, so you’ve got to be like ‘okay Chico, come on let’s go a little bit more’ but today it felt like he was doing that all on his own. He felt really nice and up for it, I know a couple of times in the trot work he was threatening to canter, which he does when he’s feeling really well. Some people may be a bit annoyed about something like that but for me it’s quite a nice feeling because I know he’s feeling happy.”
Not content with winning just one title, Charlie and the Contendro-sired gelding claimed a second in the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold. Fourth to go in the 24-strong class, the pair’s confident and expressive performance earned a well-deserved 75% from the three judges and was able to maintain their early lead throughout, despite a fantastic performance from Lara Dyson riding her own and Laura Milner’s seven-year-old son of Jazz, Jazzed Up, who scored 74.68% for second.
A remarkable horse with an even more remarkable story, a few years ago Chico was forced to undergo a lengthy rehabilitation after a diagnosis of kissing spine and arthritis of the facet joints but has come back stronger than ever thanks to careful management from Charlie. The pair has since proved to be an unstoppable force at championships having also bagged the Novice Silver and Elementary Silver titles at the LeMieux National Championships last September.
“We take every day as it comes and when he says no, that’ll be it,” Charlie continued. “While he’s happy doing what he’s doing we’ll keep going, but he has to be happy.
He’s the number one priority, so if he wants to stop or step down a level that’s what we’ll do – or maybe my mum can ride him, she did originally buy him for herself after all!”