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."

'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

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