Winter Dressage Championships: ‘I felt myself smiling in the test’ – double delight for riders at Hartpury *H&H Plus*

  • Sara-Jane Lanning’s joy in winning the PDS Saddles elementary freestyle gold winter championship at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships at Hartpury on Hawtins Lirica was doubled by the fact that she also owns the second-placed horse, Breit Fantastic – ridden for her by Dannie Morgan.

    Dannie and the seven-year-old by Fantastic were in the lead with 73.78% when Sara-Jane entered the ring on Nicola Seal’s British-bred mare, also seven.

    “I’m very competitive and wanted to beat him,” said Sarah, who scored 74.94%. “I feel really honoured to have the ride on her. Dannie got the ride on my horse a couple of years ago, and he’s doing such an amazing job that I want to keep them together, and I’m enjoying being an owner.”

    She continued: “Hawtins Lirica was a bit scared in there, but she listened to me and I was thrilled with her. I felt myself smiling as I was going round the test. I had a lovely ride. She’s very hot – I’m used to riding big, lazy bay geldings and she’s a hot redhead, and tiny, but has so much energy. It looks good for her for the future going up the levels, because she just doesn’t tire.”

    Sara-Jane is very excited about the chestnut mare’s future – if a little daunted by the reputation for success that she brings with her.
    She said: “She’s incredibly bright. She won the international seven-year-old class at Wellington Premier League, having only just started doing flying changes – it’s in effect a baby prix st georges, and she picked up the pirouettes and the four-time changes so quickly; she had to do it in the ring having only really done them about three times, and she just gets it. She’s so exciting – but it’s a real challenge, because I want to do her justice, and I’m always very conscious that she did very well as a four- and five-year-old. I have to live up to that.”

    ‘I’m probably going to cry now’

    Paramedic Nicky Heale topped an exceptional week by taking the Petplan Equine Inter 1 silver area festival final on her Welsh Section D, Retenach Request. The Aberdeenshire pair scored 68.86% to squeak past Emma Bond and Limewalk’s 68.82%.

    Nicky said: “He was awesome. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from him. He was on-side the whole time and just went and did his job. And then he went and did his trot transition from the canter to C, and he almost went, ‘Oh, thank goodness this is over’, because he was so tired, and I went, no, you’ve got an extended trot to go. He gave me his all. He still managed to spook on the way in, though!

    “I’m very proud of him – this is just the dream, for a Welsh Cob to do so well. I’m probably going to cry now!

    Double delight

    Rachel Platt and Gracia Du Rhona pulled off their second win in two days in the Petplan Equine elementary silver area festival championships. Having won the Petplan Equine medium bronze area festival class yesterday with a mark of 68.24%, they posted 70.83% today to head a competitive section.

    Read more reports from Hartpury…