Gemma Somers rode wild card qualifier Hallucination (pictured above) to win the Petplan Equine Novice Silver Area Festival championship on day three of the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships.

Owned by Wesley Shufflebottom, who bought the mare’s in-foal dam from Holland, the now six-year-old performed a relaxed, balanced test to score an impressive 73.06%, which is the highest winning percentage of the Area Festival championships so far.

“I was very pleased with her today,” said Gemma, who has the Vivaldi daughter’s younger brother coming through the ranks. “I was particularly pleased with her medium trot.

“She can be very tense and can get too hot, which can let her down, but she was great to work in and remained settled throughout the test to give a great ride. As she qualified with two fourths, it’s even more satisfying to come up and win the final.”

Of his superstar mare, Wesley said: “I’m a very proud owner; they did a great job today.”

Reserve to Gemma was Abi Jacobs and WS Jackson, who came away with 70.42%.

Best of the Petplan Equine Novice Bronze Area Festival championship was Deanne Courtnadge and The Ace Of Spades, a 14-year-old bay gelding who topped the section with 69.65%.

“This is my first time here,” said Deanne, who used to compete and breed show ponies under the Sandydean prefix.

“I started dressage about two years ago and bought “Ace” from my trainer just after — he has taught me everything I know.”

Behind them with 68.89% was Felicia IV and Joanne Blood.

Kirsty Imm and Barnebie were the leading combination in the Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Silver Area Festival championship.

Scoring a tidy 70%, the pair, who are two years into their partnership, are trained by Henry Boswell.

“I wasn’t expecting this after his warm up — he came out very tense,” said Kirsty. “I think the atmosphere got to him a bit, but he’s a big, supple horse who can be easy to ride through any tension. We pulled it together in the end.

Kirsty’s 10-year-old 16.2hh Hanoverian was bought from Germany, and is currently training grand prix at home.

Sixth in the elementary the previous day, Kirsty was pleased with the gelding’s changes and half passes during her winning test, but admits that despite him often looking light and relaxed on the surface, sometimes he gives a different feel and she is picky about their performances.

“If it’s good enough for my mum, then it’s usually good enough for me as she is also very picky,” she laughed.

Second on 67.78% was Jane Morris and Quinet De Buisson Z.

For a full report from the British Dressage Winter Championships and Area Festival final – as well as news, views and expert comment – don’t miss Thursday’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (19 April 2018)