National Dressage Championships day one round-up: Annabella Pidgley and Gio score highest mark of their partnership

  • The 2022 LeMieux British Dressage national championships, held at Somerford Park in Cheshire, commenced today, with para riders taking the majority of the spotlight and some leading faces starting their show as they mean to go on. We round up the need to know news from the the National Dressage Championships, day one:

    Annabella Pidgely and Gio wowed the spectators whilst winning the Stubben inter II. Their winning score of 79.12% put them 4% ahead of the chasing group with judge at C, Peter Storr having the duo on 80% and judge at B Sandy Phillips awarding them a 10 for the passage on the final centre line.

    “It’s easy to forget Annabella is only 17,” said Peter. “She rides with such maturity, she did a super job and I was really impressed.”

    For Annabella it was the highest mark she’s scored with the 11-year-old gelding and their first competitive outing since May.

    “We’ve been working on the small details at home; well, I’ve been learning with him and he’s been teaching me,” she said. “I feel like it’s all coming together and I was thrilled with the last passage. It felt like there was more there and when I asked he gave it.”

    Plans are fluid but a grand prix (they have done an under-25 version), is very much in the offing: “Obviously I’ve never ridden one, but it’s an amazing position to be in to have a horse like him. I mean how many get to learn on an Olympic bronze medallist! That said it’s only the half of him. In the stable he’s such a cutie and he makes us smile every day. He loves hacking and then you ask a bit more and you’re riding this absolute powerhouse.”

    Charlotte, winner of the Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold with Sarah Pidgley’s Hilus MHB, was on hand to watch Annabella.

    “She’s only 17 and she’s only had him a year; it’s phenomenal what she’s done,” she said.

    In The Centre Line prelim silver championship a strong field of 48 entrants was led by the promising and uber-expressive Fidertanz five-year-old Fire Kracka.

    Ridden by 27-year-old Virginie De Senneville, the Hanoverian stallion is owned by Claire Wyatt and Henry Boswell.

    Fire Kracka had form to uphold; he lifted two titles, including the prelim silver crown, at the summer regional championships at Keysoe in August.

    Here, they scored an impressive 74.94%, to pip Lauren Thorpe and her own For Alondra into second on 73.506.

    Virginie began riding Fire Kracka at the end of February this year.

    “I train with Henry and my partnership with Fire Kracka began with me helping with his half-steps,” explained Virginie, for whom this was her first national dressage championships victory. “We just clicked and kept going.

    “He’s super good to ride and he finds everything easy. It’s like sitting on a very comfortable couch. Today he felt a little bit shy leaving the other horses — he can be flashier. The warm-up was mega, but to be fair to him, he gave me a consistent rhythm the whole way through and he was super focused. I could have had him a little more forward, but I took what he gave me and didn’t overdo it.

    “I came here last year with my four-year-old and we were second, so it’s very nice to win.”

    Alex Ingoe-Topham rode Louise Heatherington’s Warmblood mare Seagry Donna Diva to the Andrews Bowen advanced medium silver championship. Find out how a brief career change made the aptly named grey mare into the horse she is today.

    Para riders also did battle at the national dressage championships and lifting the Equissage Pulse Grade I para gold championship was Jo Alderton’s 22-year-old The Scout with Di Green in the saddle.

    Nicola Naylor won the Equissage Pulse Grade IV riding Del Piero, while in the Equissage Pulse Grade II, Georgia Wilson and Midnight II took the crown on 74.706, the highest of the four para classes.

    Sophie Wells won the Equissage Pulse Grade V with her Tokyo team gold medallist Don Cara M. Read more about the para winners and their horses.

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