A Yorkshire team takes their first Quest title after three attempts, while a 20-year-old pony bows out on a high at Saracen Horse Feeds Quest Championships at Bury Farm, Bucks (28–31 October)
OPEN Team Quest winners Could B Rounder won after three previous attempts, fielding four riders and three horses to triumph over runners-up Jenkinsons Gems and DDRC Divas at the Quest dressage championships at Bury Farm, Buckinghamshire.
For the winners, Abigail Collier’s 11-year-old Irish/warmblood Cador doubled up, producing two consistent tests for Abigail and also becoming the team competition’s top scorer with 74.93% on day two for his other rider, Adele Barlow.
Hunt groom Abigail, who has owned Cador for four years, used to event but now focuses on dressage. Meanwhile, Adele professes to be mainly a showjumper, but may have to reconsider after her success at her first Team Quest competition.
“In the indoor, he just lit up and thoroughly enjoyed himself,” said Adele, an estate agent. Adele benefited from advice from grand prix rider Louise Bell at the previous evening’s gala to “really go for it” and ride more forward.
Steph Thomson loaned handsome grey Irish draught Growhowdy Realtin Diamant from Caroline Penny-Smith and had consistent plus-67% scores on the former hunt master’s horse.
The fourth rider on the winning team, Hannah Jolliffe, has owned 11-year-old Irish sport horse Keelnacally Puiss Clover for five years. The mare had a year off with injury, coming back into work in time to qualify. Clover was another consistent performer with plus-66% scores, even though Hannah admits dressage isn’t Clover’s favourite thing.
The team is managed by Abigail’s sister, Mandy Snowden, and the ladies all met through horses. They had hoped to have a bit of fun, but achieved so much more.
Young blood impresses the judges
SOME of the under-21 Team Quest winners, WKD Rascals, were riding horses older than they were. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca Aston’s “pony of a lifetime”, Celton Ajax, will be retiring after the competition aged 20, although his spirited lap of honour demonstrated he’s still full of life.
At 18, Jamaj is four years older than his rider, Lennon Healey, who was part of the team who also won the regionals last year. Meanwhile, 13-year-old Lucinda Jenkins-Price’s New Forest pony, Birchlands Peter, has turned his hoof to many disciplines – mounted games, tetrathlon, jumping and eventing, in addition to dressage.
Also banking solid scores for the WKD Rascals team were Jemima Brown, 14, and Lacy Milan, who scored over 72% on the final day. The pair had a cracking Quest competition, as they also won the under-21 prelim My Quest title. The chestnut Welsh section A is a rhythmic, forward-going little chap, who was much admired by the ringside spectators.
“Charlotte Dujardin is my hero,” said Jemima, who has set her sights on becoming an equine vet and also gaining a place on the Olympic dressage team in the future.
It was a closely fought competition and the Rascals came in first, just ahead of WMDG Bluebird Chicks. The Chicks, all aged between seven and nine, are to be commended for seeing off many much older rivals.
Individual glory at Quest dressage championships
UNDER-21 novice champion Emily Devlin, 16, was the My Quest highest scorer with 72.82% on her nine-year-old Mexican Storm. Although the Billy Mexico gelding was bought primarily for jumping, Emily – who has trained with grand prix dressage rider Sara-Jane Lanning for some years – affiliated with British Dressage in June. Now she combines both disciplines and this was her first time at the Quest championships.
“I’ve got the taste for dressage now,” said Emily, “Storm is cheeky but lovable and rewarding. I thought he would be spooky but he was relaxed.”
The open novice title was won by India Latter-Sears with her attractive palomino Welsh section C, Glebedale Desert Storm.
“His breeder sent him to me to prepare for the sales, but he stayed and then my mum Christine bought him for me earlier this year,” said India. “In the test, he grew another hand and really showed off. He’s so powerful, he’s a little machine.”
Open prelim champion at the Quest dressage championships was Jodie Aston’s coloured mare Milli, who has had a successful showing career. Since turning to dressage, has also notched up a win at prelim in the Coloured Horse and Pony Society (CHAPS) Associated Championships earlier this year.
“Her test here was perfect,” enthused Jodie, who shares the mare with her mother, Angie. “She’s a nice, easy mare.”
Open intro champion Joanne State bought her Connemara/traditional cob Roxley Kahlua Star as a yearling, and Quest has proved a good introduction to dressage for the five-year-old.
“He’s grown up a lot in the last six months and went in like a pro,” said Joanne, who also won the intro title at the CHAPS Associated Championships.
Lola Rega’s under-21 intro champion, Amy 13, almost missed this year’s competition after a bad overreach before the regionals.
“She didn’t put a foot wrong here. We’ve worked hard on our centre lines, and giving and retaking the rein,” said Lola.
Inspiration from the top
THE gala evening is always a splendid affair at the Quest championships and this year was no exception. Louise Bell brought her exciting new prospect Zinkwazi for a mini masterclass. The big atmosphere was a great experience for the six-year-old and instructive for the audience on coping with a sensitive youngster.
The invitational freestyle competition brought forward a mix of challengers, riding tests from prix st georges to grand prix. Scarlett John was riding her first inter I on seasoned campaigner Highcliffe Apollo, while Samantha-Thurman Pickett and Jayne Turney both demonstrated that ponies (Careleu Celtic Choice and Cruz III respectively) can be very competitive at the higher levels.
The class winner was Jessica McConkey (Lady Gaga, pictured), fresh from a placement at the Van Olsts in the Netherlands.
“She’s still quite green and has only done two young rider tests before,” said Jessica, whose Lady Gaga programme was compiled by Tom Hunt. “I was surprised with how well she went.”
Runners-up were Into The Blue, ridden by Louise Bell, and Nathalie Kayal and DHI Homerun, both riding grand prix freestyles.
- This report is also available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 11 November
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