Pachesham, Surrey, 20 May
Featuring riders Dannie Morgan, Michael Bates, Kathryn Menzies, Sarah Millis, Beth Bainbridge, Kerry Mackin, Eileen O'Connor, Penny Brooks, Myles West and Ben Smith

WELL-RIDDEN beautifully trained horses topped the Pachesham Shearwater age classes. With lovely young horses’ welfare, and riders’ and owners’ personal preferences and ambitions at stake, these classes generate huge emotion. Out and About Dressage took the opportunity to learn about the horses and to sound out riders' views on these classes.

Judges Marion Terry and Amy Stovold found themselves hesitating about which of the two qualifying five-year-olds to place top of the class. Both were British-bred, a chestnut mare Headmore Bella Ruby and a coloured stallion St Nazaire C, ridden respectively by Dannie Morgan and Michael Bates. The first round found Bella narrowly in the lead on 79.4% ahead of Naz’s 79%.

Marion Terry explained: “The coloured horse showed us a lovely walk and was very secure in the connection, working correctly through the back, through the neck, through the poll to the contact. The chestnut horse is a very, very quality horse but not quite secure in the connection at this stage. When it is more secure, it will be absolutely stunning.”

Headmore Bella Ruby, currently 16.2hh, was bred by Sarah Oppenheimer and is by Belissimo M and out of her Rubinstein-sired super mum, Rubinsteena, who seems infallibly to produce winners

Not all went according to plan on Ruby’s first-ever trip away from home due to motorway congestion. Sarah said: “We rushed her off the lorry, shovelled Dannie [Morgan] on board and pointed them at the warm-up with just 20 minutes to go. She was amazing.

"We plan to do the Hickstead five-year-old with her and some novices with either Dannie, or Alice [Oppenheimer] when she can leave off wearing the cast on her hand. We think a lot of Ruby because she is so naturally supple and when she goes sideways she has amazing reach. She also has a wonderful work ethic and tries her heart out.” For more about Dannie and Bella Rosa, see recent feature

Michael Bates’ AES-licensed stallion St Nazaire C was also bred in the UK — at the Camrose Stud in Somerset. He is by Samaii (Sambertino) x Arpeggio.

Michael said: I thought Naz’s behaviour was excellent considering that he hasn’t done many shows since last year and the number of horses around him in the warm-up arena.

"My wife Nicki and I bought him from his breeder Dinah Webb-Bowen as a three-year-old to be our bit of fun. We've always had a soft spot for coloureds and we fell in love with him. His first outing was at the Oldencraig four-year-old qualifier last year but at the semi-finals at Hartpury he was too tense so his work wasn’t good enough and we just came middle of the field.

"Initially we intended to geld him because we don’t have stallion fencing at home and we do have two small children but Dinah said we would be mad. Now we think, 'where could we get another like him?' Many horses are easily replaced but not a good coloured stallion. I think he is incredibly handsome and could excel in showing or dressage.

“We have had quite a lot of interest from overseas in using him as a stallion but basically the time and costs involved mean that breeding remains something we might consider in the future."

Judges always say they don’t want to see young horses over-produced or over asked in young horse classes, but do they mean it?

The judges top-scoring four-year-old, on 77%, was Impressive. Judge Marion Terry commented: "Impressive is a lovely young horse with three fluent good, true paces and is correctly trained. She added, "[you] expect horses of this age to be weak and it will be even better when it's stronger".

Impressive (Charmeur x Krack C) is owned by Sarah Millis. He was ridden by 22-year-old Kathryn Menzies who joined the Millstones establishment as assistant rider/groom last October. (See images, left and top.)

Kathryn said: “I never expected to be competing so soon and on such a nice little horse. Sarah and David are very supportive. Pachesham was only our second outing. ‘Ed’ has shot up recently but is only about 16hh. He’s a soft, forward ride and tuned in to you the whole time. Occasionally he will look at something because he’s inquisitive, but he doesn’t spook.”

Sarah commented: “We found Ed at the Equine Elite Auction in Holland. He’s a lovely character and shows a lot of the right reactions to be a future competition horse. His hind leg is always under, even when he’s tired, and he naturally pushes himself in an uphill direction."

Sarah herself rode Dude III, the sole contender in the six-year-old class, but the day’s highest scorer on 80.2%. Dude (Dancier x Rubinstein) was seventh in the five-year-olds at the Nationals in September. He is being produced by Sarah as potential junior ride for 15-year-old Lilah Gibbs.
“We found Dude for Lilah's parents when he was a three-year-old in Germany. He’s done a handful of elementaries this year and he has a basic idea of a change and half-steps.”

Beth Bainbridge, who rides for Anna Ross at Altogether Equestrian, like Sarah, came into the arena for the first time in one of the day's downpours. She rode the runner-up, and also qualifying four-year-old, Indirona

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