A buckskin and a show pony steal the show at winter dressage championships

  • Ponies ruled in Sunday’s under-21 novice classes at the 2024 Petplan Winter Area Festival Championships at Addington Equestrian, topping the podiums in both the silver and bronze.

    A versatile buckskin pony delivered the goods in the bronze section. Caramelle, ridden by Lydia Jones, produced a beautifully consistent test to score 71.59%, and shade Joris Couture (Alexandra Cordingley) into second on 71.18%. Another pony, the palomino Twyford Salamander (Jemima Byam-Cook), was third.

    “I was quite nervous because I’ve not done much dressage this year, but Caramelle is so good, she knows her job,” said Lydia, 15. “She’s really consistent and her walk is great.”

    Caramelle stands just 13.3hh, and Lydia has had the 11-year-old mare for six years. And while she’s a winning dressage machine, she’s no one-trick pony.

    “We started showjumping her this year and she’s so good, so bold,” said the year 10 student. “She can do anything. We’re competing at 90 and hoping to move up to 100. She’s really loveable, she just wants to try her hardest.”

    “In the zone” at the 2024 Petplan Winter Area Festival Championships

    In the later silver section, the show pony Treworgan Dancing Diva squeaked ahead of Welsh cob Seiont Glesyn (Oliver Lawery) by 0.2%, taking the title on 67.98% for Keira Jasinski. The winner is no stranger to a bit of atmosphere, having previously competed as a show pony at Royal International.

    “I think that helps her cope, as I didn’t have to do the arena familiarisation this morning,” said Keira, who trains with Kate Rowland. “She is full of sass, but she gets in the zone when we go in the ring and loves her job. She’s sassy but chilled.

    “Last year we came second in the prelim under-21s and now we’ve won this,” added Kate, 17, who is hoping to train as an equine physio. “She was really consistent throughout her test, easy and enjoyable to ride. She’s just a joy to have.”

    Saturday’s silver prelim winners Lilly Newcombe and Lagos finished third on this tight podium on 67.15%.

    In the 32-strong Petplan Preliminary Silver Championships, Rachel Gallop scored an impressive 73.12% on Sazzaro Bellante for their rhythmic and consistent test. Four riders in this class exceeded 70%, with Mia Kirby and WFD Wild Thyme the runners-up. Lauren Green and her eye-catching Connie Dalgan Chester were third on 70.76%.

    Rachel and her sister Sara have had the rising six-year-old Sazzaro Bellante since he was two and she is thrilled with how he’s “taken everything in his stride”. He has only been competing in British Dressage since November, having been given time to grow into his 17hh frame.

    “We’re both quite new to it as I’m really a showjumper,” said Rachel, who says he is training at medium at home. “I also jump little stuff on him, and my sister’s other dressage horses, for fun. They love it and they’re quite brave, which surprised me.”

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