Natural energy, fitness and good work ethic proved their value in the soaring temperatures and produced some exceptional marks
THE NOVICE 28 at Merrist Wood, Surrey (6 May) was led by silver riders. In first place was 47-year-old businesswoman Amanda Radford competing Headmore Dionysus while 14-year-old Daisy Douglass, second, was riding her first horse Ferrara II.
Amanda’s 76.66% winning ride was on 15.3hh Dimaggio x Rubinstein Headmore Dionysus, see image top. She explained: “Dillon has had several months off because he had a pull when he was being a hooligan in the field in January. We’ve brought him back into work very gradually so we missed the winter regionals. Today was intended to be just a nice experience and to get his confidence back. He was incredibly attentive in the warm-up and well-behaved around the other horses — and went into his tests and was lovely, forward and responsive. He felt great. Now we’re going to be in a bit of a scramble to get the rest of the points he needs for summer qualification.Then I will move him up to Elementary.”
Amanda, who began riding as an adult, now fits her two horses, Dillon and The Maxfactor, around her heavy-duty career. Currently she is corporate controller for a global medical technology company. She said: “It’s difficult balancing my job with riding the horses and keeping fit myself. I’m based at Headmore Stud and Alice and Sarah Oppenheimer are incredibly supportive.”
Both Amanda and Daisy, also Headmore based, benefited from warm-up help on the day from Alice, their trainer. Daisy scored 75.33% riding her light-footed 17hh Fidertanz x Negretto six-year-old Ferrara. Daisy only moved on from competing pony Saco W at the end of last summer and stands 5ft 4in but luckily has long "dressage" legs!
The heat was a factor for riders, too, and Daisy is a Type 1 diabetic. She said: “It can be quite difficult to manage my diabetes when I’m competing and using a lot of energy, but riding helps me by keeping me fit and keeps me from thinking about it too much.”
Alice Oppenheimer had a horse to ride herself, big full sister to Dillon, Headmore Bella Ruby, and the pair earned 77.38% from novice 34 qualifier judge Clare Kershaw, then 80% in the Elementary 49 from Debbie Wardle. Ruby recently qualified at Pachesham for the Shearwater semi-finals, despite not performing at her best after her post-Winter Championships break.
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