Crofton Manor, Fareham, Hants, 21 March
Featuring riders Lizzie Murray, Sara-Jane Lanning, Denise Fryer, Erika Fitches, Zoe Harrison, Kate Welch, Louise Brown, Anna Kendell, Christine Smith, Alison Heywood and Rebecca Brown

CATHERSTON STUD’s Timolin’s charisma and fabulous movement gave him and his rider Lizzie Murray star billing even on a day featuring some notable partnerships. Their 74.07% in the Advanced Medium 98 placed them just ahead of seasoned campaigners Mi Amigo and Sara-Jane Lanning on 73.18% who also won the test 85 class with 71.17% to Lizzie and Timmie's 70.44%.

The Totilas x Sion breeding stallion, only seven, was doing young horse classes last season. Lizzie commented: “He’s started to come into his own now and become got more solid in his work. He has a lot more power and push and got much stronger over this winter. He’s done all the stuff for PSG. It's not yet secure enough to do a test, but that should happen some time this year.

Timolin is shaping up to be a serious international competition prospect for Lizzie and the first one she’s had since Springsteen who last competed in a CDI in 2011. They will be competing in both the Medium and Advanced Medium musics at next month’s Winter Championships. Lizzie added: “I also have a talented mare, Ulyssa, going to Hartpury. It’s lovely to have two seven-year-olds I’ve ridden all the way from Novice and nice now they’re starting to do more interesting things."

Commenting on Mi Amigo’s Crofton performances, Sara-Jane Lanning said: “I was very pleased with him because he hadn’t been sat on since the Friday before. Our second test was the better of the two as we’d ‘got back into it’ by then. It was our first outing towards summer qualification and he almost wrapped it up in one go."

Sara will be taking her Zardin Firfod x Lauries Crusador 16-year-old to Hartpury for the fourth year running to compete in the Advanced Medium, Advanced Medium freestyle and PSG. She said: “I always love Hartpury and I prefer the Winters to the summer championships. There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere going through the tunnel into the indoor arena! ‘Zoa’ doesn’t get spooky, but a little tension can creep in and as I’ve been working on getting him more in front of my leg that might make him explosive — who knows?”

Another impressive combination were 67.94% and 67.5% Advanced Medium bronze section winners Denise Fryer and Keystone Starstruck. Denise has combined bringing on the Serano Gold x Don Frederico mare with her job working shifts as an intensive care nurse at Southampton Hospital. They will also be making a return visit to Hartpury. Last year they were placed seventh in the Novice silver championship and Denise, who trains with Kate Smith, was highest placed amateur rider.

She said: “Sparkie’s seven this year and very clever. She went to the Wellington winter regionals two weeks ago and we were shocked when she won the silver section medium.” She admitted: “It’s a bit risky doing tests with flying changes before the Medium Championship at Hartpury but you have to progress and Medium isn’t the end goal. If she gives me a change, I’ll just take it and carry on. It’s almost frustrating to have to step down in our training.

“I was really pleased with her canter serpentine in the 98 because it’s a very hard movement for a seven-year-old and she has quite big changes to balance going across the school. She went in and tried so hard and the movement and changes scored 7s and 7.5s."

Another amateur silver rider, Erika Fitches, was winner of the Medium 75 overall with 67.7% on a "feeling a bit tired" Farhillsfarm Starstruck. Erika said: “I’ve had her since she was a just-sat-on four-and-a-half year- old. She’s definitely ‘my horse' and has been very good. She’s now nine and I’ve done all the training to get where we are now. She’s by Showmaker out of a Laurentainer mare and quite tiny, 16.1hh, but you think she’s a lot bigger when you see her move. She has got quite big paces and I could have taken her up the levels quite quickly but I preferred to wait until she was more mature.

“I have a more than full-time job as a NHS manager, but ride her five times a week, fitting it around my work schedule. If you don’t put the work in how can you expect to progress or get anywhere? We’ve started changes but I have to be careful that in the counter-canter she doesn’t go, ‘oh good, can I do a flying change?’ I train with Damian Hallam and we’ve taught her them over the winter. We are also working on collected work for more engagement for when she goes Advanced Medium. I want to go to the summer regionals at Medium and, in the next month or two, see how she is in an Advanced Medium test and decide whether to carry on or stay at home and do more training.”

Zoe Harrison from Home Farm Equestrian, near Liphook, competed two exciting horses. She won the Medium 69 overall with 70.45% riding Virtue. The Vitalis x Krack C six-year-old, bred by Hickstead director Dane Rawlins, is around 17.1hh now and counting. He's built uphill and has very expressive foreleg and activity behind. Zoe, quite petite, must need a strong core? "Yes, probably!" Zoe continued" "But he's not uncomfortable and because he's so uphill when he's in front of the leg he just takes you and you go with him. He gives you an amazing feeling.

"But because of the uphill conformation we have spent a lot of time getting him to stretch. We have lots of stretching breaks when we encourage him to stay out to the contact: if you just let go of the rein he will naturally curl under himself. We also do a lot of going forward and back within the pace and once he's forward and pushed out and through you have to help him stay there. It's a question of developing the strength."

Zoe also works on her own fitness: "I’m going to a Pilates instructor once a week who uses a Reformer machine and that’s really good for core work. And I also see a physio who can treat me if I get a bit sore. I don’t want to get on horses and make them crooked.”

Louise Brown’s 64.54% and 65.13% scores on Gran V won the Medium gold classes. He is by a horse Louise used to ride called B Grandeur out of a Voltaire

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