Merrist Wood, Surrey, 21 October
Featuring riders Tor Fenwick, Melissa Beer, Melissa Smith, Charlotte Stansfield, Jamie Broom, Pip Blain, Ellie Dempsey, Megan Ingham, Christine Cockerton, Willow Kemp, Molly Key, Alice Oppenheimer and Julia Hodgkinson.

TOR FENWICK tested her partnership with Russki at prix st georges and their 68.68% result placed them top of the class. Tor has spent the past six months developing Russki's trust in a new rider. Last year Shaun and Eva Measures’ homebred, by their Rubinstein stallion Rimskij Korsakov, was 2016 Small Tour champion under Leah Beckett. Tor said: “It has taken time to get him to be on my side and understand what I want of him. You have to gain his trust in every movement and almost I have to believe in him more than he does himself. Then he’s fab. I have also been working on getting him a lot fitter and slimmer by hacking him twice a week — which means 45 minutes of trot and canter work, not bimbling around!

“We scored eights for changes and for the counter-change of hand, but I was most pleased that his frame was much more up throughout the test. It is something that Charlotte [Dujardin] picked up on in a lesson a couple of weeks ago. I think that’s what gained us the good marks. He was much more connected and more powerful, but in a controlled way."

Melissa Beer, who competed Celestial King in international young rider and small tour classes is a busy Sussex-based trainer but has lacked a high profile competition horse. Naomi Vance Webb’s PRE stallion Guardadamas looks set to change that.

The gallant and much-treasured 18-year-old stallion was once considered a potential Olympic ride for Jose Antonio Garcia Mena. His career was abruptly ended by colic and he bears a long scar from post-surgery complications and loss of crest muscle during lengthy hospitalisation. Melissa and her enthusiastic PRE partner scored 66.84%, finishing second in the gold section.

A similarly circumstanced trainer is Melissa Smith. She competed her own eye-catching, long-white-stockinged Othello up to international grand prix a few years ago. She rode a 66.18% PSG, placing her third in the class, riding Marilena Pevreall’s Caletto-sired Danish warmblood Califstar. Melissa commented: “I’m very excited to be competing Calif. I have trained Marilena for many years but, as she’s very busy with her teaching job, Calif moved to my yard in September. I’m on a crash course to qualify him for regionals at PSG and Inter I before the end of November.

Melissa who is based in Elstead, Surrey, has made a slow recovery from the serious and frequently misdiagnosed Lyme Disease, the result of a bite from a tick transferred from her dog.

Melissa continued: “Calif isn’t the biggest moving horse but he’s very trainable. A lot of the horses we professionals end up with are very complicated. It’s nice to have one that’s so straight-forward. He hasn’t competed a lot and is a bit over-excited at shows at the moment, so we get some tension that we don’t have at home. He already has passage and once we’ve qualified for the small tour classes we’ll push on with training one-tempis and piaffe.

A quiet, relaxed competition experience was what Charlotte Stansfield aimed for with Riverndell Royal Jazz. She said: “This is only 'Jazze's' fifth or sixth PSG and his lower scores at the level have been at Premier Leagues. I am taking him to quieter shows so that he learns to relax and I don't try for the bigger marks that he’s capable of. He’s sensitive and can be quite challenging so giving him a nice ride pays off better.”

Charlotte has found that being based at Kilbees Farm among many competitive combinations has inspired her to work harder with her dressage and she is now training with an old acquaintance from Denmark, Sune Hansen.

Moving up to a new level often initially causes blips in performances at a previously established level, as Pip Blain has found this summer with Jan Palmer’s Donatella IV.

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