Keysoe, Bedfordshire, 9 December
Featuring riders Lara Edwards, Suzanne Lavandera, Fenella Ross, Joe Bright, Sarah Williams, Georgina Howard, Sharon Edwards, Sara-Jane Lanning, Catrina Leckie, Debbie Poynter, Charlotte Dicker …and Sam Turner
ACTIVE hind legs propelled riders Lara Edwards and Suzanne Lavandera to the top of the Prix St Georges class. Lara’s hot Jazz son, Jazzed Up, took first place with 68.5% just ahead of the stallion Keystone Daganay with his famous Dimaggio engine on 68.24%. Both were praised for their test riding skills by C judge Kim Ratcliffe.
Lara commented: "Test riding is something that has been drilled into me by Rhett Bird. He’ll have me doing 15 to 20 centrelines until they’re spot on and you don't move on until they’re spot on"
She explained: “When ‘Felix’ is nervous or somewhere spooky his hind leg bends even more. The qualifier for the small tour championship was the first PSG he had done. He’s only eight and an impressive horse but not really strong enough for PSG — his tempis aren’t yet as expressive as his single changes and I do only working pirouettes. I would have started small tour next year but because I’m expecting a baby in the Spring, I wanted to get a qualifying score to be able to compete in June and July internationals.
Sussex-based Suzanne’s ride Daganay, nine, and known to owner Janet Gee and friends as ‘Merlin’, has lost some big show experiences due to minor injuries.
Suzanne commented: “It felt like a really uphill, active test but there a bits of the PSG where he’s still a bit green, like the pirouettes and we made a mistake in our four times. The trot work is getting great marks but mistakes in the canter and the changes are big marks to lose. He also needs more mileage: things like the arena decorations and the cold don’t worry him but he was a bit distracted going towards the other horses in the warm-up."
The Small Tour Championship, an inspired initiative by List 1 judge Carole Thornton, is designed to be decided on averaged marks from competitors' test and freestyles performances. But although Keysoe’s indoor school was all dressed up for a Christmas gala occasion sadly the organisers cancelled the freestyles in the expectation of heavy snow — a good call!
There were many Southern riders in top 10 places. Joe Bright, 23, in fourth place on a fraction under 67%, was riding Karen Wright’s “late bloomer” 14-year-old JBD Wodan. His "good safe PSG test" put him just behind one of two highly placed U25 Scottish Small Tour competitors (click on blue bar below). He commented: “We were up against some of the names that have inspired me for a long time — it was exciting to be in that company. However, I was hoping to show off our strengths and bring our marks up with our freestyle as it had in the qualifier. Wodan is inexperienced in competition, so it’s lovely to be able to design a test that gives your horse confidence.
“I was pleased that the test showed the improvement in his balance — I got an eight from Kim Ratcliffe for my first centreline. I’m able to maintain straightness while keeping him a lot more on the hind leg now. The horse also has a real talent for pirouettes, which scored sevens from all three judges, despite the fact that I ride them slightly big at the moment to keep the suppleness over the back. Most of all I am pleased that he has become a happy athlete. He has a big heart but when he doesn’t
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