Dressage highlights: A spooky Spanish gelding shines and more from across the country *H&H Plus*

  • A spooky Spanish gelding exceeds expectations, while a young rider shows off new stars

    Bury Farm, Bucks

    A 70% score was “the cherry on top” for Samantha Wuidart and Lince FS, who achieved a personal best to head Saturday’s advanced medium 85.

    Samantha was barely a teenager when she travelled to Spain to view the PRE gelding as a four-year-old. “He wasn’t the horse for me, but I still said ‘yes’,” she recalls. “He was spooky and had so many problems; I couldn’t even get him around my home arena, let alone at a competition. He knew all the party tricks, including rearing and bolting, but we kept going and now I wouldn’t change him for the world. He’s my best friend.”

    Lince, now 11, also finished second in his first advanced test. “He finds it easier to concentrate at the higher levels and has already taught himself one-times,” added Samantha, a pet portrait artist and a student of glassblowing at De Montfort University Leicester. “He only recently moved up to advanced medium, so I’m in shock that we scored the magic 70%.”

    After a mounting mishap in the car park, which nearly left her sitting on the floor, Charlotte Tuckwell claimed Sunday’s prix st georges (PSG) qualifier with DHI Alligator. Charlotte is head groom for Nathalie Kayal and was competing at novice when she was given the ride on the Special D gelding three years ago.

    “He has taught me everything,” she said of 15-year-old Alligator. “I’m so lucky to have this horse in my life, achieving dreams I never would have thought possible.”

    Nicola North and Damons Gold claimed both PSG bronze sections, on their debut at the level. “Our scores were beyond my expectations,” said Nicola, who achieved a consistent 67% across the two days with her nine-year-old Damon Hill gelding.

    “We train with Jackie Beaven and our partnership continues to grow.”

    Burrows Court Farm, Glos

    A more even scoresheet was Maddy Frewin’s aim for her first post-lockdown show with Tottola. The six-year-old Totilas son duly obliged, heading both elementaries and impressing Maddy with his growing maturity.

    “Training him at home and pushing up the levels has really helped, as he is more confident in his work and can now relax,” she said of Mark Philpott’s 17hh gelding. “He gets his amazing hindleg from his dad, for sure.”

    Maddy also rode Sandy Phillips’ home-bred youngster Rocket at his first show, finishing second in both prelims. The six-year-old is out of the Rhinelander mare Lara 106, Sandy’s 2006 World Equestrian Games partner and British Dressage national champion of the same year.

    “Rocket is so trainable, with an amazing canter,” said Maddy, who recently took over the ride. “He’s also the cuddly one of the group.”

    Maisie Hodge headed both prelims with Insist TC, a seven-year-old Apache gelding who smashed his affiliated debut with two plus-75% scores.

    “He stayed rideable throughout, considering there was lots for him to take in,” said Maisie, who has been training “Terry” for Sue and Rob Fearis since the start of the year and jumped at the chance to buy him last month. “I’m proud of how he behaved.”

    Arena UK, Lincs

    Steph Crowther’s plans for a productive lockdown may have been dashed when her eight-year-old gelding Huevo was kicked by another horse in the field and then developed a cough. However, the pair bounced back with an advanced medium win at Arena UK.

    “I thought that we’d do all these amazing things and show our trainer, Becky Moody, how we’d progressed, but he spent most of the time off,” said Steph, who runs the Yorkshire Equine and Pet Crematorium.

    “Although Huevo was bred from showjumping lines [Favorit Ask x Lupicor], he’s really trainable and we’re starting pirouettes, piaffe and passage. Although it has been a gradual progression, Becky has high hopes for him.”

    Field House EC, Staffs

    Lauren Geraghty was determined to improve her medium scores at Field House EC returning to the same venue four days later to win both classes outright – with increases of more than 3%.

    Riding her 14.1hh part-bred Welsh section B pony WS Jackson, 14-year-old Lauren topped the medium 75 qualifier with 70%.

    “She had to dig deep and practise, making sure that all her lines were right,” said her mother, Julie, who runs dressage freestyle music business Equivisions.

    “Lauren has only had ‘Joey’ since last October, but he’s an absolute dream. They’ve been training hard with Patsy Bartram.”

    Warren Farm EC, Merseyside

    Sahara Hit, Hannah Heaton’s 15.3hh “pocket rocket”, achieved a best-ever elementary score of 77.03% to win her class at Warren Farm EC.

    “We’ve been training with Hayley Colwell at Astrid Bolton’s yard, working at medium and concentrating on test riding,” said Hannah. “I love the way that Hayley trains – we’ve just clicked.”

    Hannah still struggles with arthritis of the joints, which developed when a horsefly bite triggered an overreaction of her immune system, and also underwent surgery on an eardrum in March. Despite the setbacks, she has high hopes for the season ahead.

    “Sahara feels fired up and positive,” she added. “We have really upped our game.”

    Keysoe, Beds

    Bayford Hall Incognito kicked off his competition career at Keysoe with a 70% advanced medium win. Daniel Sherriff has been producing the seven-year-old Glock’s Voice gelding at home, building his confidence.

    “‘Inca’ was tricky as a youngster, so we bought him at an affordable price,” said Daniel. “He’s bright and forward-thinking, so I have every faith in him for the grand prix work. He showed early talent for collection, but I’m glad I waited until he was ready to compete.”

    Anvil Park Stud, Norfolk

    Former eventer Watermill Rocks scored a poignant double novice win under Nikki Goldup at Anvil Park Stud. Known as Swatch, the nine-year-old seven-eighths thoroughbred gelding was showing exciting potential with Iona Sclater until the 15-year-old rider sadly lost her life in a riding accident last year. Nikki, whose mother Janet Willis owns Swatch, has taken the ride.

    “I’ve been bringing him on alongside my mare Wayward Wanderer, a 15hh part-bred cob,” said Nikki. “I’ve enjoyed finding Swatch’s buttons and building on his strengths for dressage. It’s a bit like retraining a racehorse, as he develops from an athletically fit eventer to carrying himself in a different way, but he feels great. I’m thrilled with his performance.”

    Ref Horse & Hound; 23 July 2020