Petite partnership take top spot at Solihull EC Area Festival

  • A Welsh pony reroutes to dressage with success, while another rider learns of her Area Festival triumph via text

    DIMINUTIVE dressage pair Violet Hawkins, 12, and Glenlichd Fair Un Square claimed prelim silver honours with 71.5% and finished third in Sunday’s novice bronze at Solihull EC Area Festival in the West Midlands.

    The Hawkins family bought “Squire”, a 12.2hh Welsh Section B gelding, in late 2019, with showing in mind.

    “Violet started having lessons with Jayne Turney during lockdown and developed a passion for dressage,” said Alex, Violet’s mum. “Last year was their first proper affiliated year. Violet already has grand designs for Olympic medals.”

    Allison Croft headed the advanced medium silver with her 11-year-old gelding Tantoni Dallaglio.

    “Rebecca Hughes previously competed him for me, before I moved him closer to home and started training with Jane Critchley,” said Allison, who bought the Danone II son as a four-year-old. “I was very novice and it has taken me a year to reach where he is, so Jane is also competing him at prix st georges to progress him while I catch up.”

    “He knows his job and tries to understand what I’m asking, even if I get it wrong,” she added. “The test we did at home was better, but I’m still really pleased.”

    The versatile Irish-bred gelding Tinkers Boy took the prelim bronze.

    “I knew he had it in him,” said freelance rider Hannah Parr of her 15.2hh event gelding, who has also qualified for the grassroots championships at Badminton for the second time. “He has always achieved pretty decent scores in the eventing dressage and he tries hard, which makes up for what he might lack in athleticism.”

    “Dream” amateur horse takes title

    “HE’S an amateur rider’s dream,” said research scientist Julie Smith of her novice silver winner Sheepcote Fiorucci. “He’s very genuine and straightforward with a solid, if slightly cheeky, temperament. He has been a joy.”

    Julie Smith riding Sheepcote Fiorucci

    Julie bought the Florencio home-bred gelding from her trainers, David and Serena Pincus, at Sheepcote, where their working pupil Elijah Lovell guided him through his early competition career.

    “I rode a cautious test this time as we hadn’t been out for a while,” added Julie. “I only found out we’d won when my friends started to text me on the way home.”

    • Read more dressage highlights from shows around the country in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 10 February

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