Petplan Equine Area Festival Championship day four: formerly ‘bonkers’ pony leads junior line-up

  • “We haven’t had the best preparation,” admitted 13-year-old Emelia Nelson who rode Sarah Steggell’s British-bred palomino gelding WFS Top Red to win the Petplan Equine Elementary Under-18 Area Festival final on day four of the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage championships.

    “He was a really good boy,” said Berkshire-based Amelia, who achieved a score of 69.12%. “I have been in France for a term and only had two weeks to prepare for the final. There really wasn’t a lot of preparation so the aim was to just get a clear round. He can sometimes drop behind the leg in competitions so the fact he went all the way round in front of my leg and listening was amazing.”

    The nine-year-old, who Amelia has been riding for a year, was entire when she met him and was only cut last spring.

    “He was bonkers as a stallion and it took it him ages to get over the process of being gelded,” she added. “So he has only been in proper work for around five months — the win hasn’t actually sunk in yet.”

    Amelia is on the pony progress squad so will be contending the Premier League circuit before setting her sights on international classes.

    Following the golden pair with 69.02% was 10-year-old Myles Graham and Heavenly High Jinks.

    Best of the Petplan Equine Prelim Under-18 Area Festival final was Annabel Coller with Haybell’s Cinderella, who were experiencing their first championship win with a score of 71.25%.

    “Her trot work was nice and even,” said 12-year-old Annabel of the nine-year-old mare, whom she has had for three years. “I’ve really enjoyed the experience.”

    The all-rounder, who hacks and also does the odd bit of jumping, will be heading to a new home soon as Annabel moves onto a larger pony.

    “We have had her sold since September,” added Annabel’s mother, “but kept her for this final, which has turned out to be a good decision.”

    Second was Olivia Walker and Qeg Lux, who achieved a score of 70.76%.

    Ann Staines and the snaffle-mouthed Royal Standard led the Petplan Equine Intermediate II Silver Area Festival final on 64.74%.

    “He goes better in a snaffle,” said Ann, who was actually eliminated in same final last season.

    “I’ve had him for eight years and he certainly hasn’t been the easiest horse. He was so naughty, I could barely ride him and we had to go out hacking on a lead-rein.”

    Ann, who works full-time in A&E, trains with Conrad Schumacher and is in her first season at inter II with the former bad boy, who has started to compete at grand prix.

    When asked about her winning test she said: “We made a couple of mistakes, but I am generally pleased with our performance.”

    Just behind with 64.47% was Naomi Phillips and Hey Arnold.

    Amy Daye and Prince William MBS won the Petplan Equine Preliminary Silver Area Festival with 72.85%, and in second was Jocelyn Hill and Foxglove UCS who scored 72.57%.

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