‘My dream is to ride at the Olympics’: teenager steals the show on day two of the Winter Dressage Championships

  • At only 16-year-old Myles Graham is having an outstanding start to 2024 and added another title to his collection at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships.

    He and the seven-year-old mare Macalena N (Glock’s Toto Jr x Scandic) were first-to-go in the much-anticipated Prestige Novice Gold Winter Championship. It was an anxious wait as top combinations – including winners from the previous day like Robyn Walker and St Giles Flamborghini as well as Jezz Palmer and Toddington Debut – came and went but no one could touch their mistake-free 72.34%.

    “She’s always been a calm cookie,” said Myles. “It was our second-ever stay-away show and she really stepped up to the mark in the arena.

    “I can’t thank the owners enough – Julia Lloyd-Parks, Aimee Frankham and my mum – who were up at half past four this morning to support me.”

    Myles is currently second in the FEI dressage world rankings for juniors and looks set for a medal-laden future.

    “My dream as a rider is to go to the Olympics but every horse tells you what their own road is and what they can or cannot do, so I just have to listen to them – but ultimately the dream is to go right the way to the top.”

    2024 Winter Dressage Championships: “It all comes down to your partnership with the horse”

    Sara Squires and Laetitius C claimed the Petplan Intermediate I Bronze Area Festival Championship on 68.62%.

    “I wasn’t my finest test,” said Sara, who has produced the 11-year-old gelding through the levels. “There were some really good bits but we made a few mistakes but riding at this level, it’s hard to get everything right on the day.”

    The combination scored consistent eights for their trot work with the extended trot being a highlight.

    Sara is also an international event rider who won the CIC3* at Braham Horse Trials in 2013 and still competes at two-star level.

    “I’ve always been quite critical of myself, even through eventing, so it was nice to get a result today even though we weren’t perfect,” explained Sara.

    When asked if she gets the same buzz from dressage she added: “I love the training and the discipline in dressage. I’ve had to push myself as a rider because you’ve got to work so hard to get your horse to perform this stuff.

    “It all comes down to your partnership with the horse – they’ve got to trust you in the arena just as much as they would if you were jumping into the water eventing.

    “But I still love the thrill of eventing, I can’t lie – I’m not ready to give it up but I do want to bring this horse up to grand prix.”

    Kate Jones and her 12-year-old gelding Deja Vu won the Petplan Elementary Bronze Area Festival Championship on 70.93%.

    “I wasn’t expecting too much at all – not last was the aim,” said Kate, who works full-time in agricultural finance. “He’s got two sides to him but when he’s on fire he’s great and today he seemed to enjoy it with the sun being out.

    “He’s a jack of all trades, we’ve evented up to intermediate but dressage was always his strongest phase. We were out galloping on the Welsh Hills on Monday to try and get a bit of energy out of him to keep him calm for today – and it worked!”

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