‘I stole the ride off my husband’: a break from the dressage ring proves perfect tonic for advanced medium silver national champion

  • Alex Ingoe-Topham achieved a career first at the 2022 LeMieux national dressage championships aboard Louise Heatherington’s athletic grey mare Seagry Donna Diva, who netted the Andrews Bowen advanced medium silver title on day one of the show.

    The eight-year-old warmblood, who is by Don Fredric out of My Delight, scored a neat 70.816, giving Alex a first ever national dressage championships victory.

    “She’s known as Diva at home, and she is a complete diva,” said Alex, who was joined at the show by her new husband, Nathan Connolly, who she married in August.

    Alex was first acquainted with Diva when she joined the pair’s base in Rossendale, Lancashire, two years ago for Nathan to event.

    “She’d turned a little bit sour in the dressage arena, so Nathan evented her for a season or two before Covid hit,” Alex continued. “Nathan doesn’t see the point in riding when there’s no competition to focus on, so I was keeping the horses going, and I got a bit of a rapport with Diva and stole the ride off him.”

    Since then, Alex has carefully trained Diva up the levels.

    “Diva isn’t the easiest in the stable,” Alex said. “On the ground she can be a bit of a witch; she’ll give you a nibble or a swish of the tail. She really loves her work and likes to be onside with me when I’m riding her. She likes to do things her own way; she’s a typical mare and I have to work with her, not against her.

    “Today, she was really with me. She was easy throughout and it was the most fluent test I’ve ridden on her at advanced medium.

    “I would like to step her up to PSG now, working on the level over winter. To win the national dressage championships advanced medium silver title feels so prestigious.”

    Second place went to Debbie Halstead’s Iladorijke on 69.947, while third spot went to Laetitius C, ridden by his owner Sara Squires, on 69.763.

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