British-bred mares prove their worth while another small tour winner flourishes in a new role at the ICE Horseboxes All England Dressage Festival Premier League, Hickstead, West Sussex
FIVE years after her last high profile grand prix victory, Anna Ross triumphed here with the exciting prospect Newton Domino. Anna and the British-bred De Niro x Rubinstein mare “Dotty” produced an attractive, mistake-free test to score a grand prix personal best of 70.54%, pipping Fiona Bigwood and Fame XX to the top spot by 0.14%.
The grand prix work has helped the chestnut mare morph into a real powerhouse and she impressed with solid piaffe-passage work and tidy pirouettes.
“Dotty has only done five tests at this level, and has been my winter project,” said Anna of the mare bred by Lorna Wilson at Newton Stud. “She’s a real pleasure to ride and very talented. There’s loads more in the tank; we have been working on that elusive clear round, and now we have achieved that there is a lot more to come.”
Anna’s business venture in launching Elite Dressage in Devon has meant her riding has taken a backseat in recent years, but she now has three horses coming through at high level in Dotty, Delgado and Habouche (Holly), who was well-placed here at small tour under Beth Bainbridge.
Both Dotty and Holly combine competing with breeding via embryo transfer, with Dotty giving a San Amour embryo just a few days before Hickstead.
“It’s been really good fun getting back into competing again,” said Anna. “Dotty and I have a mutual respect for each other – she is the sort of mare that you can’t tell what to do. She likes to be shown something the first time, then I have to let her think she’s the boss.”
Another exciting British-bred mare with several youngsters on the ground claimed victory in Saturday’s hotly contested inter I. Alice Oppenheimer’s nine-year-old Belissimo daughter Headmore Bella Ruby put the previous day’s slightly tense prix st georges (PSG) in strong winds behind her to score 73.09% at the higher level, with her trot work much improved on the day before and a super canter section.
“She‘s a very hot mare and has struggled with the lockdowns as she really needs consistent outings,” explained Alice. “She has such talent for the changes and pirouettes in particular.”
Bella has already had a fast and fruitful journey up the levels, having been crowned winter elementary champion just two years ago and taking two national titles at advanced medium since then. But Alice plans to use this year to consolidate her at small tour before moving up to inter II.
“She is so talented for the collected work but she needs a season to get confident at this level,” she said.
Second to Alice on Saturday to follow up their PSG victory on Friday was Nathalie Kayal and her established small tour campaigner DHI Cleverboy, who performed a dual role over the weekend.
“He won the PSG with me on Friday, then on Saturday morning he scored 79.92% to win the children-on-horses team test with Demi Howard-Cartwright, 13. Two hours later he was back to doing inter I with me,” explained Nathalie. “How many horses of his calibre could do that – it really is testament to his character.”
Nathalie also finished fifth in the grand prix and second at inter II with DHI Homerun, with Tom Goode taking Friday’s inter II honours aboard Saint Julian, while Demi also triumphed in pony ranks with Fin C WE.
“We had a game plan”
ANDREW GOULD and Matt Frost each banked a PSG win, with Andrew revealing that his winning test on Sunday with Genie I was the best the 10-year-old Zhivago stallion has done at the level so far.
“We had a game plan, we discussed last night how best to warm him up, and he felt confident in the ring,” said Andrew. “He’s such a gentle horse, with a perfect attitude.”
Andrew also triumphed in the seven-year-old young horse qualifier aboard the Sezuan stallion Active Solaris, on just the horse’s second outing.
“It’s not that we have hidden him away but we have wanted to give him enough time to mature,” said Andrew. “He really stepped up here and wasn’t fazed by anything.”
Completing an excellent weekend for the Goulds was Andrew’s 17-year-old son Oliver, who won the junior individual test on Feiner Stern II.
“Oli has only been riding properly since the first lockdown and he has been working really hard to get up to this standard. We’re so proud,” said Andrew.
Matt Frost enjoyed several good placings with the nine-year-old KWPN mare Helga, including victory in Saturday’s PSG with the only plus-70% score of the class.
“She was super-cool – I haven’t done that test since last year but we had a nice clear round. She is much more secure in her small tour work now she’s competing at inter II as well,” said Matt, who was third in Sunday’s inter II, won by Lucy Amy and Rudy.
“Helga is always enthusiastic about her work and she is training at grand prix now at home, with a cracking piaffe and passage. She’s a real athlete – I’m not used to having a horse who is so nimble and agile.”
Matt was also thrilled with his pupil, Singaporean rider Caroline Chew’s, win in the grand prix special, riding the 17-year-old Tribiani (Joey).
“Joey was on his toes in the grand prix – he is almost too clever for his own good. We threw Caroline in at the deep end as she has only done the special twice before, and she has been back in Singapore during lockdown, but they did really well,” he said.
Daniel Timson was also a winner at PSG, taking Sunday’s class on 70.35% with the impressive Friesian gelding Tjade Fan Lutke Peinjum.
Saturday’s advanced medium direct qualifier went to Ruth Hole and Fidalgo Classic, a striking 10-year-old grey gelding who also events at BE100.
“He did a super test, with just one mistake in a change where he got a bit too eager,” said Ruth. “He’s a funny character, but such a dude. We are aiming for grand prix with him but will continue eventing him on the side as it is so good for his mental wellbeing – he needs a busy diary.”
Steph Taylor (WGS Inanda) and Ulrik Moelgaard (Ostergardens Twilight) also came away with advanced medium wins.
Riders universally praised this new-look show, now being run as the All England Dressage Festival on the main Hickstead site.
“Thanks to the organisers for their extreme efforts and consideration, and what an amazing show it was. I think this could become one of the most prolific Premier League shows in the calendar next year,” said Nathalie Kayal.
Youngsters on form
SARAH MILLIS had a busy weekend filled with exciting youngsters from her Sussex yard, with three Equine Elite auction purchases winning age classes.
The Lord Leatherdale x Santano stallion Kissingdale (pictured), owned by Sarah and Lilah Gibbs, topped the national six-year-old qualifier with over 85% under Sarah, while another Lord Leatherdale offspring, Kodora, part-owned by Kate Moisson, claimed the international equivalent.
“The two of them are very similar, although Kissingdale is quite a cool dude and Kodora is a bit hotter. When learning something new she can be excitable but when she’s got it, she’s got it,” said Sarah.
Yard rider Emma Jamieson was responsible for the highest scores, though, riding the five-year-old Galaxie son Lawrence M to 87% wins in both his respective classes.
“He is part-owned by Katja Kuistila, and Emma is doing a great job riding him. He is a bigger built horse than the others, but has a super walk and active hindleg, and creates a very nice overall frame,” said Sarah.
You can also read this report in the 27 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine.
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