Hickstead, West Sussex, 2 September
Featuring riders Sarah Millis, Tor Fenwick, Dane Rawlins, Edward Creamer, Joe Bright, Nicky Greenhill, Annie Rawlins, Kirsty Mepham, Kerry Mackin and Sissel Hansen 

HAVING THE right horse at the right time is key to continuing success in dressage. At the moment Katja Kuistila’s Hofrat 12-year-old Hofjuwel is the one providing Sarah Millis with her international GP profile. At Hickstead the pair were performing at their fighting weight, producing a 69.5% score in Sally Merrison and Mary-Anne Horn’s grand prix class. Higher marks can be hoped for when the pair compete at the CDI3* at Waregem, Belgium, this month as Sarah listed a number of improvements she will look for.

Sarah said: “We started with a good balanced straight entry into a lovely halt which went into a clear move off but I started Hof’s first piaffe a bit early and let it creep a bit forward. While it cost some marks it was a good exercise to ensure that he is forward in the movement. The second was better and more in place.

“The second of our pirouettes was smaller and more sitting and he would have got a better mark if his rider had him straighter coming in and going out! I also made some silly mistakes: I hurried him in the walk and didn’t prepare with a good squared-up halt for the reinback. But I was pleased with the throughness in Hof’s way of going. That is what I was focusing on and it was a lot better most of the time.”

Tor Fenwick: “It’s fantastic that Olly Barrs has given me the opportunity to learn my grand prix craft on something like Urlando. He loves competing and doing what he does best.
“Olly said to me, ‘if you want to learn how to ride grand prix, he’s your tool. How lucky am I to have a horse like him and no pressure!
“At the moment ‘Tucker’s’ getting better and better and the plan is to aim him at the big tour at the Keysoe High Profile show in December. It will be fantastic experience for me and Olly’s really up for it”

‘Silver’ oldie revelling in the show atmosphere, Olly Barrs’ Urlando III, was showing the ropes to grand prix newbie Tor Fenwick. Their 65% third place is due big respect. Tor said: “He’s my ‘maiden voyage’ at the level. I did my first three years ago before he ‘broke’ and retired. This is only my third grand prix affiliated, so I was absolutely thrilled. There were a lot of errors: the passage transitions weren’t all clean, the second piaffe was too travelling and he wasn’t stationary in his halt: that all costs.” Tor pulled her marks back up by scoring well in movements with double marks: “His canter work was pretty solid and Mary-Anne gave me 7.5 for his one time changes and I got my zig-zag correct for the first time.”

Impressive is the only word for Dane Rawlins’ 18.2hh Ehrenmann x Krack C-sired Espoire — who is Dane’s shining hope for the future. Dane and ‘Nosher’ have done fewer than a dozen tests and for a big horse to be producing a 68.88% inter II at eight years old is amazing.

Dane is old enough to have learnt that discretion is the better part of valour and treats Nosher (named after famous stuntman Nosher Powell) with utmost respect: “On a Monday morning, if the wind blows, you could be in for a rodeo. I’ve always been able, just, to keep the lid on it. I don’t want to push him, but he pushes his rider and gets bored if you don’t give him something to do.

“It’s very early days and there’s a long way to go. I hacked him round the inter II and didn’t even bother to do an extended trot until the last one, which both of the judges mentioned, but it’s important not to stress him. Hopefully I’ve learned enough not to let my ambitions operate faster than my brain.

“He’s a giving horse if I give him time to give it to me, rather than say, ‘now’. His one tempis started a little short but then he let me push and by the last four or five the strides were growing. If I asked for too much he would bottle up on me.”

Charlotte Nash’s lightly competed 19-year-old Vagant Van De Smeets gave rider/trainer Ed Creamer some advanced dressage exposure in the Inter I. The class was won by Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Wimoweh at their consistent top of the 60%s level. Ed produced a 65.53% test despite soft pedalling some movements in deference to his age.
Ed said: “Frankly I only attempt a proper pirouette when we compete, as it would be too much strain to practise them at home. We’re also keeping to small tour, which is a pity, as ‘Quinn’ can piaffe for a 10. His flying changes are brilliant and he does them for fun”

Joe Bright stood in need of a small tour horse after the sad loss of Hazelhope Really Bling, just as he had produced him to that level. Joe

Joe Bright is now based at Fiddlers Green Stud, with the benefit of indoor barn stabling and indoor school, and is training with Sharon Edwards
Joe commented: “Sharon has been wonderful and is the main person behind Wodan’s success”

has happily found a new small tour partner in Karen Wright’s 14-year-old Rousseau x Kaiserstern-sired JBD Wodan with which he won the gold section PSG qualifier on 67.17%. Joe first met Wodan when he borrowed him to ride in the Hickstead Quadrille at the Regionals last year. Joe and Wodan led the troupe out again at the 2017 international, see top. Joe explained: “Wodan was in for training with Annie Rawlins. When I rode him for the quadrille in 2016 I found I had connection with him. A few months later we were able to buy him, so we did. Despite his age he’s quite low mileage but I think his size, 18hh, has possibly been a factor.

“The quadrille was a fantastic opportunity to take Wodan into a big atmosphere arena with lots of spectators, flags and marquees. I have been working on combining suppleness behind the saddle with engagement. We’ve been getting some good marks through the season but each time we go out I try to add something to the performance and this time I asked for more power and we didn’t get below 7 for the whole canter tour from Sally Merrison and we got sevens from both her and Mary-Anne for his fours and 7.5 from Sally for his threes.”

Younger horses step up to the mark
The Elementary 57 qualifier produced the two highest marks of the show, 73.57% and 73.39% with only 0.5 of a mark separating para podium squad rider Nicky Greenhill on King Edward I and Annie Rawlins on Clockwork’s Firenze. Judge Fiona Wilson commented: “Both horses were quality and I gave eights for paces and riding. The highlight with Nicky’s test was that she really rode her transitions showing a clear difference between the mediums and the more collected pace and there was lovely harmony between horse and rider.”

Nicky now trains with Melissa Smith: “Melissa understands my difficulties as a blind rider and is brilliant with it and I visit Charlotte Dujardin once a month and she pushes me for more marks”

Nicky’s former top ride Gregorian Chant is looking for a future as a schoolmaster, but her showjump-bred nine-year-old by Calido, who has been taking his time filling out his 17.3hh frame, is now ready to be top horse. Nicky said: “Ed’s finally coming into his own. He felt as confident in the arena as he was in the warm-up. He’s such a trier but sometimes when he’s nervous he backs off a bit. This time he felt amazing and I was hoping for a good mark.”

Annie was riding Ehrendorf x Florestan six-year-old Clockwork’s Firenze and Elementary 57 allowed the mare to show off her talent for lateral work. Annie said: “She can also collect on a sixpence and I think she will shine as she goes up he levels. I’m training her to sell for her owner and it will be exciting to see how far she goes. Annie also rode her client Caroline Edgeley’s Belissimo M x Rousseau six-year old Galway Girl. They were placed third in the gold Medium 61 with 69.83%.” The winner of the class on 73.1% was Daniel Timson who revealed his secret competition weapon, Dirty Harry II, just launched into his career. See Horse & Hound, 14 September, South-East highlights.

Stallion Rhonderful Dorrels, the spit of his handsome dad Keystone Rhondeo (deceased), is not taking his Novice competition career as seriously he should. He took his bridle off leaving the arena and, once re-dressed, was led away by rider Rachael Hawkins. Kirsty said: “Rodney can either be lazy or cheeky, and sometimes — when his mind is on other things — the lights are on but there’s no one home. He’s owned by an old friend Jane Philo who lives in France and she was thinking of standing him at stud, but at the moment his manhood is hanging in the balance!”

It’s always a pleasure to watch Mandy Crouch’s comedian, six-year-old 15.3hh Florenzo and to see the pleasure that Kirsty Mepham has in riding him. Kirsty and naughty ‘Ted’ took second place with 70% in the Medium 61 class gold section and won medium 75 qualifier overall on 67.57%, despite picnic tables… Kirsty said: “Luckily most of the trot work was away from the tables but they caused three booboos including the counter-canter going towards them which messed up the simple change.

“I love him to bits. He’s fab and I think he was a bit put out because he had to wait on the lorry for Rodney [Rhonderful Dorrels] to do his bit. Ted has quite an ego but I get on so well with him. He’s so clever that he’s doing all his changes now — and he learned them so quickly — and I was surprised he maintained his counter-canter as well as he did. At home he wants to show his changes off all the time. He’s the same as my Sydney Olympics horse Dikkiloo was at the same age: moments of brilliance and moments of not so. He’s my little Dikki.”

Angela and David Jones’ balanced Belissimo M-sired four-year-old stallion Basimo was the day’s Novice star scoring 71.85% in the 37A qualifier under rider Kerry Mackin. Their mark included a 8.5 for the give and retake across the diagonal. Kerry said: “I’ve ridden him since he was ridden away after backing and today I got the same feeling in the arena as I do at home. He lacks confidence going from he warm-up into the arena, but once he’s there he knows his job.”

The Novice 22 and the Prelim 19 were both won overall by Sissel Hansen, who rides for Sune and Emily Ward-Hansen’s Spring Hill Dressage. In the Prelim 19 Sissel rode American rider Kim Hirschman’s Woodlander Dancing in the Dark by Del Amitri. Kim has recently moved to East Sussex and ‘Dante’ is to be her future competition partner.

Ippolito the 72.59% winner of the Novice 22, a four-year-old out of Isobel Werth’s grand prix mare Anne Beth is by Sorrento x Oscar. Emily said: “We went out and bought a lot of young horses last year. He is one of five or six we are producing and hopefully one of them will go all the way. When you develop that special relationship you know. That’s the one we’ll hang onto. Ippolito is bred for the job and has a great attitude.”

© Celia Cadwallader, 10 September 2017

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