A chestnut mare, a sparkling new partnership and two event riders take the spoils at under-21 dressage champs

  • It was tight at the top of the elementary silver under-21 class at the Petplan Winter Area Festival Championships, with winner Alice Lamburn just squeaking ahead of second-placed Brooklyn Daw by 0.29%. Alice scored 70.539% on Linde WS, with her marks getting better and better as the test progressed. She started with 5.5 for the first working trot, and ended with eights.

    “She’s a chestnut mare, and she can be quite tense and spooky, but she coped really well,” said Alice, 20, of the eight-year-old. “It’s my first time doing a prize-giving and she kept it all contained.

    “She was very green and weak when I bought her as a five-year-old, but I loved her immediately and have brought up her the ranks myself.”

    Alice is studying human biology and anatomy at the University of Liverpool, and is planning to take Linde to uni with her next year.

    “This year she’s been kept ticking over by Jade Deter, and I come home for the holidays and try to do the best I can,” added Alice, who cannot foresee a “life without horses”. “I worked at Catherston Stud in my gap year, and loved doing that.”

    Brooklyn Daw, 17, was a narrow second, riding 18-year-old Roulette MKM. This was a tonic after a torrid year in which she lost her Connemara pony suddenly to cancer.

    “He’s really helped me since losing my pony, which I’d had since I was nine,” she said. “Rou is very different to my pony – going from a 14.2hh to a 17hh warmblood, and it’s taken time to get used to the gears as he has so many!

    “It’s the best test we’ve done so far. He has a good brain on him and he’s taught me a lot. I am hoping we can go up to medium this year.”

    It was another close finish in the bronze elementary, with Gabriella Kozersky (Hollywood Semilly), by Diamant De Semilly, taking the winner’s sash over Annabelle Wesley and her 14.1hh Armada Dyffryncothi Bridget. Gabriella, who scored 67.8%, competes in BE100 eventing as well as affiliated dressage and says the two are mutually helpful.

    Gabriella Kozersky and Hollywood Semilly win the under 21 bronze elementary at the Petplan Area Festival Championships 2024

    Gabriella Kozersky and Hollywood Semilly win the under-21 elementary bronze

    “Dressage helps me be so accurate and improve my eventing, and I love the courage that you need to go cross-country. I feel like they’re both equally important and I enjoy both of them the same,” said Gabriella, who is her final year of A levels. “I’ve always wanted to be able to balance the horses and academics because I wanted to be an all-round person. I think the sport helps you mentally organise yourself, be disciplined, and get that competitive mindset. I feel like it really helps you develop and progress as an individual both academically and other aspects.”

    “I never anticipated him winning today, we are just aspiring to be just a fraction as good as his sibling Toledo [De Kerser]!”

    Under-21 prelims Petplan Area Festival Championships 2024

    Another event rider came to the fore in the prelim bronze, when Sophie Bellamy clocked a super score of 72.36% to win on her eventer Drumnaconnell Goody Bag, by Ricardo Z. The pair won a BE90 at the end of last season and are bidding to move up to 100. Sophie has only recently started competing in dressage.

    “I realised that if you want to have a chance of being competitive in eventing, your dressage has to be so good, and the more I’ve trained the more I’ve loved it,” she said. “I couldn’t fault him today, he was mega.”

    There were three combinations over 70% in this section, with Lilly Cox second on BE Barbara with 70.35%, and Pippa Stephens and her Appaloosa Old Spot Brite Eyes third on 70%.

    Lilly Newcombe was another under-21 winner with a plus-70% score, riding Lagos (Rupert), by De Niro x Vivaldi. Lilly scored a personal best of 72.01% in the prelim silver, but was ruing a mistake where she made a transition at the wrong marker which docked marks. The partnership is only five months old, but they formed a quick bond.

    “I’ve never done anything like this, and he’s only rising seven,” said the 18-year-old rider. “He was fresh in the warm-up. but as soon as he sees the white boards and goes down the centre line we are like the dream team.

    “I’m new to this level as I had a bad accident with a previous horse that was really sharp and lost loads of confidence. But Rupert has just picked me up.”

    The runner-up was 11-year-old Theo Charnley and the 13hh RSPCA George, who scored a personal best of 70.63%.

    “We got the right canter which was really good as we have been struggling with it,” said Theo, who backed the pony himself having rehomed him as a two-year-old. The skewbald was born in an RSPCA centre after his pregnant dam was rescued from the side of the road.

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