The long-awaited Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships 2020 at Hartpury were a huge success – let’s hear it for this year’s winners...
Advanced medium silver champions: Josie Kent and Serious Black
The final winner of the week-long championships went to local rider Josie Kent and her 15-year-old son of Hercorose, who produced a “safe, consistent test” for a winning mark of 68.5%.
“I was pleased with his extended canter and coming back for that change, as that’s a movement we often struggle with,” she said, adding he enjoys a mixed schedule of hacking, polework and schooling to keep him supple and happy.
“He is quite a cheeky character, quite opinionated, but he is lovely. You have to make friends with him and he doesn’t like people he doesn’t know, but once you get to know him underneath it all he is actually really soppy.”
Novice bronze champions: Catrin John and Llancayo Danny Boy
Catrin and her 15-year-old Welsh section D were here on a wildcard for a second year running, winning the title on a score of 69.86%
“He is a little superstar and I’ve had him since he was about three and I’ve done absolutely everything with him, but he likes dressage the best so that’s what we’ve been doing the most,” said Catrin, who hails from South Wales and trains with Tom Buckland.
Elementary silver champions: Rhiannon Hinton and Quaikin Horatio
The lockdown atmosphere suited the seven-year-old Oldenberg gelding (Hotline x Dimaggio) down to the ground, with a confidence building run rewarded with a winning score of 70.93%.
“He came here last year and on day two it freaked him out — on day one he was innocent as it was his first exposure to a big show atmosphere, but by day two it really worried him,” she explained.
“So to come here today has suited us really well as he has gone in that ring and blossomed. I’m really proud of him.”
Inter I silver champions: Rebecca Baybutt and Hey Mambo
Rebecca thanked her “amazing trainers” Amy and Tracey Woodhead for help with her veteran star, who scored a class-topping 68.64% to win the inter I silver title.
“I was really pleased, he tried to be a bit spooky before he went in, but he’s actually quite fresh considering he is 18 now, so knows his job,” she smiled, adding.
“I was really pleased with my changes and our pirouettes, even though he’s older those can still be a green area for him.”
Medium silver champions: Danielle Rhodes and Tiger Tim
Working on the judges’ comments from Thursday’s medium music test helped give Danielle and the popular traditional gypsy cob stallion the winning edge in Sunday’s class, bagging victory on a score of 68.24%
“We were only talking the other day about whether we would stop doing straight classes — he loves his music — but we half thought about backing off completely last year as we thought he was starting to fall out of love with it,” she said, adding they are very much letting the 15-year-old guide them as to what he wants to do.
“We’ve recently covered a few mares with him and that seems to have perked him up a bit! He just enjoyed that today. We started our changes, so we are going advanced medium with him and we will see where that takes us.”
Advanced medium bronze champion: Samantha Dawn Turpitt and Bali Dancer
Samantha and her home-produced chestnut mare, whom she has had from a two year old, were among the final combinations to go in the 27-strong section.
The victory was all the sweeter for the journey the nine-year-old mare has been on with Samantha and the pair posted a winning score of 69.96%.
Novice under-21 champion: Louise Gallavan and Sandros Fire
Louise and the six-year-old son of Sarotti Mokka Sahne took top honours in the young rider novice on a score of 70.56%.
“He can be quite opinionated sometimes, but he is talented, which makes it all worthwhile,” said Louise. “He has a lovely character, is a joy to train and always tries, so it was a great ride and he offered a great test today.”
Prelim bronze champion: Sharon Scarlett and Louis VIII
Sharon and the 11-year-old coloured cob scored their biggest win to date with their prelim bronze title following an emotional four-year journey.
The pair, who train with Abbie Hipgrave, were the only combination to break the 70% barrier, with the judges rewarding their obedient test with a mark of 70.97%.
“Without Abbie’s help I wouldn’t be here. She just pushes me to keep bettering myself,” said Sharon.
Elementary under-21 champion: Rose Foley and Cordici K
Rose made the seven-hour journey from Dumfries and Galloway worth the trip with a win in the elementary and a runner-up spot in the young riders’ medium section aboard Shona Leckie’s pint-sized superstar.
The combination spent a full week at Hartpury, which they capped with their elementary win on a score of 71.42%.
“He’s very cheeky and has a big character, he’s very lovable and is a lovely pony to have on the yard,” said Rose, of the 14hh chestnut gelding.
“At the start of the week he was taking over in a test and he was quite fresh, but over the week he has calmed down and he was really with me and listening to me.”
Bronze inter I champion: Caitlin Burgess and Chocotof
Caitlin and the cheeky Lord Leatherdale gelding were the run-away inter I winners, heading the 13-strong class with a close to 7% margin.
The pair, who are based with Henriette Andersen and Ulrik Molgaard in Oxfordshire, put a few mistakes behind them to wow the judges and win on a score of 73.29%.
“He is the naughtiest and cheekiest horse you’ve ever met, but he is always so happy,” laughed the 19-year-old. “I’ve never seen him sad — he loves his life, loves his job and loves competing.”
Medium under-21 champion: Charlotte Neal and Walter’s Fable
Charlotte and “Jeff” made a winning debut at the championships, securing victory on a score of 68.48%.
“He’s quite a character, he’s really friendly and loves attention,” said Charlotte, who was celebrating double success after receiving her GCSE results the previous day.
“He does little things like when he’s in the stable he’ll reach round and touch where he wants you to scratch him.
“I was quite shocked as I wasn’t expecting to win. I don’t think I’ve ever competed in weather quite this windy before, but he was very good, so thank you, Jeff!”
Medium bronze champion: Susan Chant and Pascal McCoy
Susan and her “horse of a lifetime” took the title on a score of 70.39%. She bought the 15-year-old gelding, who was intended to be a para horse, from Assouline Dressage five years ago.
“To start with, I was terrified of going in the arena but he’s given me the confidence and we’ve come this far,” she said.
Prelim under-21 champion: Imogen Thompson-Bland and Furstin Firefly
Imogen and the nine-year-old mare claimed the first youth Area Festival final of the week with a winning score of 71.6%.
“She’s very chilled and hardworking, she loves her work and she’s a huge character,” said Imogen, who has been riding the Fürstenball x Quendel de Bornival mare for five years.
Elementary bronze: Sam Whyley and Tremadoc
Sam and the nine-year-old British-bred gelding (Miners Lamp x Welton Crackerjack VII), owned by Joanna Wilkins, took the elementary bronze title on a score of 71.52%.
The hotly contested class proved extremely close at the top, with first to third all finishing on +71% scores.
“That’s the sport now, there are so many strong combinations at every level,” said Sam.
“We had a bit of a nervous test yesterday [Thursday] in the novice and he was much more rideable today. I could really let the handbrake off and didn’t really make any mistakes at all.
“It was really nice to feel him really confident and this was his first ever big finals, so it was really nice to get that feeling straight off the bat.”
Inter II silver champion: Nicky Jennings and Bodelicious
Nicky Jennings rode the 18-year-old Rousseau gelding Bodelicious to claim the highest level title of the championships with a 3% lead.
“I’ve worked my backside off and it has all come together. I could not be more proud of him,” said Nicky.
PSG silver champion: Shelley Reeve-Smith and Sinderella
Shelley Reeve-Smith rode her mother’s home-bred Sir Oldenburg mare Sinderella to glory in the PSG silver.
“I got a bit emotional as she’s a home-bred mare by a stallion that my sister and I used to ride,” said Shelley.
Novice silver champion: Samantha Jimmison and Daria-I-Noor
Samantha Jimmison and the six-year-old Diamond Hit gelding Daria-I-Noor clinched novice silver victory by less than 0.2%.
“It was really, really close, and this was one I really wanted to win – I have been second so many times, and I just adore this little horse.”
Prelim silver champion: Hugh Train and Jesmond Jasmine
Event rider Hugh Train became the prelim silver champion with the seven-year-old Grafenstolz mare Jesmond Jasmine.
“This has been a really nice thing to be able to aim for – I’ve struggled a bit with motivation this year, because of how disrupted everything has been,” he said.
PSG bronze champion: Lauren Noble and Heartbreak
Lauren Noble and the 12-year-old mare Heartbreak, by Herzensdieb, top Wednesday’s bronze PSG on a score of 68.95%.
Lauren credited a pre-Hartpury training session with Sonia Baines for helping her to nail the canter half-pirouettes with the mare she has produced from a four-year-old.
“She’s definitely been on a journey,” said Lauren. “I remember the first time she came her as a five-year-old and we were doing the novice Petplan Area Festival finals and she just stopped mid-test and got a minus-two for one of her movements. To say that she’s come from there to where she is now is just amazing.”
All photos by Kevin Sparrow.
See next Thursday’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (27 August) for reports from the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships and the NAF Five Star Winter Championships at Hartpury
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