‘She really held her own today’: New Zealand rider tops final championship of the show on mare she found by chance

  • The final competition of the Lemieux National Dressage Championships, the Equitop Elementary Gold Championship, enabled Sarah Wilkinson and six-year-old Koko II (Desperado x Johnson) to advance on their bridesmaid position achieved in the TopSpec advanced medium gold the day before.

    Their score of 74.813% put them into poll position, piping advanced medium gold winners, Becky Moody and Jack Diamond, into second.

    New Zealand rider Sarah moved to the UK in March 2020 after working for Germany’s Ellen Schulten-Baumer for four years.

    Sarah found Koko at Kirsten Becker’s yard in Germany two years ago:

    “I had been to see another horse but it turned out to be too little for me when I got there,” explained Sarah. “They said they had another mare and pulled Koko out of the box. I saw her ridden and despite only being in work for a few weeks, she really wowed me. I had a ride and her attitude was the best.”

    At the winter dressage championships, Koko and Sarah took home the elementary silver winter title:

    “She’s improved so much since then, but she’s still got to get stronger,” said Sarah. “Today, my trainer Gareth Hughes helped me before my test and she was super. She’s only young, so she still struggles to keep the cadence at times and can get a bit quick, but today she really held her own.”

    “At home, she has one mate and she’s the only other horse she likes. She’s the happiest horse, but likes her alone time.”

    Moving forward, Sarah has her sights set on Paris:

    “When I first got her I hadn’t made any plans, but over the last year and a half I’ve come to realise how amazing she is. Behind my Chestnut mare, Hello D’Ottie, I do hope Koko could be a Paris hopeful.

    “This was my first Lemieux National Dressage Championships. Everyone always says how amazing the nationals is but the venue is even more phenomenal and beautiful in person, and everyone is very friendly here.”

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