It’s been a long held aim for many to develop the increasingly popular freestyle competitions into a bi-annual championship affair and last weekend (24 – 26 August), that became reality as the inaugural Summer Music Festival took place at Bury Farm in Buckinghamshire. It was also the first occasion to host a Freestyle Championship at Preliminary level. Six levels with three sections proved a busy show but there were some great performances.

Preliminary

Michelle Parish (52) from Towcester in Northamptonshire won the Preliminary Music Freestyle Bronze Championship with her daughter Emily’s Clohessys Sinbin, scoring 69.815% from judges Sue Rowlands (E), Richard Baldwin (C) and Zoe Freeney (M). Clohessy’s Sinbin is a nine-year-old, 15.2hh, black tobiano gelding of Irish origin. Wittily named after the Irish rugby player Peter Clohessy who has a nightclub in Limerick called the Sin Bin, he’s a true family all-rounder who’ll turn his hoof to anything, including side-saddle, eventing and hunting.

Second and third were neck-and-neck on a score of 67.31%, but it was 61-year-old Bella Craven with her Irish 15-year-old Coletto Boy who had the edge on collectives to take the runners-up position. Third spot on the podium was claimed by Angela Marsh (60) from Shrewsbury with her British-bred pony, Kirtle Amber.

Yorkshire rider Lizzie Trask (28) claimed the Preliminary Music Freestyle Silver with her 18-year-old Irish Draught gelding Lisreagh Paddy. Familiar faces on the Quest circuit, Lizzie and the handsome bright chestnut who’ve been enjoying good results at Prelim level, relished this opportunity to show off their moves to music. Their score of 66.48% won them the class ahead of Ceri Phipps-Hewlett and Hurstpark Tikkaboo (66.02%) and Sally Pidsley and Tranwheal Tineth Moon (63.71%).

Runaway winner of the Preliminary Music Freestyle Gold was former figure skater Sarah Clarke (29) and her talented six-year-old Negro son, Hiwatha La Perle. The pair achieved a super result of 75.19% ahead of Fiona Thurnell and Humbug X (66.02%). “Third best score of the Championships out of over 350 entries…I’ll take that!” says Sarah.

Novice

In the Novice division on Saturday it was Derbyshire’s Helen Randell who scooped the Bronze title with her own Ffion d’Or. Riding to music compiled by Fay Butlin, the duo posted 68.43% for the win. Helen’s British bred chestnut, by Lion d’Or, has had a great season dancing and in qualifying for Bury Farm even managed a spectacular 80% score. They’ve been competing together for two years and mixed Quest and straight competition in their first year, successfully qualifying for a Petplan Equine Area Festival and the Quest Championships.

It was also a British bred chestnut mare who took second in the form of Gran Diamond with rider Isabel Forman with 67.78% while Yvonne Eaves (69) was third with the delightful skewbald Clogheen Bella II on 67.69%.

The Silver champion’s sash went to BD Trainee Judge Stephane Gaunt from Staffordshire riding her own seven year old Horatio IV by Heinrich Heine. The duo have been competing together for three seasons and have reached the dizzy heights of Petplan Equine Area Festival Final level in 2017 and Winter Regionals this spring.

Their 71.57% average over the three judges Carolyn Alston, Judy Firmston-Williams and Heather Ashley gave them the win by just over 1%. Sarah Ayres and Sarah Beveridge’s skewbald Sir Archibold finished as runners up and Stacey Jones riding her own River Rio filled third spot with 70%.

Elder Klatzko 
was delighted with her win in the Gold section with Dior VII, horse she rescued as a skinny, frightened yearling who she’s spent time gaining the trust of. The black gelding is now six and had formed quite a bond with Elder; the duo finished eighth in the Hickstead British Young Horse Championships last month and are Stoneleigh bound in the Childeric Saddles Elementary Gold Championships next month. “I’m so proud of my boy Dior!” Elder exclaimed on Facebook.

A score of 72.41% was enough to edge ahead of second placed combination Maria Griffin with Cerruti II whom she jointly owns with Adrian Baker who scored 71.85%. Para international rider Amanda Shirtcliffe was just behind in third riding Jon Mcfarland’s New Princess on 71.76%

Elementary

Successful duo Lucie Stokoe and Dutch bred mare Dolores added to their impressiveElementary Bronze record with victory on 69.23 but Patricia Smith and Helios, who’d won the Bronze Championship the previous day, pushed them hard, just 0.26 behind. Emma Grant made her 11 hour journey from Aberdeen a worthy one when she piloted Mini Echo to third on 68.14.

In the Silver section, Sally Green romped home with a comfortable victory with her British bred six year old, Keystone Rhia, by Keystone Rhondeo. All three judges, Carole Thornton, Kim Ratcliffe and Pat Watts were unanimous in having the pair to win and their 74.55% gave them a 4.55% margin over second placed Anna Bates with Jolianna on 70% while Fiona Newall was third with Fendy VCG in 69.87%.

It was another 4% margin of victory in the Gold section when crowd favourite Jos K, the eye-catching Friesian stallion impressed under rider Katharine Lewis as the pair cruised to a cracking score of 76.67% with their Gaynor Colbourn music. They’ve been on fire this season but the winner’s sash, their second of the championship, clearly meant a lot and was fitting proof of their hard work. It was the bridesmaid position for Maria Griffin and Cerruti II with 72.5% for a second championship class and Sarah Williams with San Remo Hitt filled third spot with 71.6%.

Medium

Eventing hopeful Lucy Robinson took a brief break from the sport to partner Jane Boothroyd’s impeccably bred Johnson Jaz to take the Medium Bronze accolade. Lucy has been riding the Johnson-sired mare solidly this year after sharing with owner Jane previously. Their solid score of 66.56% just gave them the advantage over Catherine Tristram and Lynwood Formula on 66%. Third went to Jane Chapman and Bankers Draft on 65.39%.

Lucy, who works with Olympic eventer Jeanette Brakewell, enjoys her dressage but eventing is still her discipline of choice!

In the Silver, it was a first win for Hampshire rider Katharine Lewis and gorgeous black Friesian Jos K (they went on to win the Elementary Gold as previously described). At seven, he’s still establishing himself at Medium but even with some green moments, the judges aggregate was 74.22%, over 2% ahead of second placed Lucinda Bellis and Windhover II. Pony rider

Lavinia Johnson finished third with 68.78%. “He was really on my side in there,” said Katharine. “He loves the music and I can feel him rise to the occasion and the beat. He really tries so hard!”

The Gold was won by prolific duo Charlie Sawyer and Chico Too – names we’re very familiar seeing on the winner’s rostrum. 72.89% was the score for the 14 year old Contendro gelding, owned by mum Sarah. Chico has had is fair share of health issues but careful management keeps him fit and well with Charlie in tune with him to sense when he’s not at his best. On winning his seventh title, Charlie was clearly happy with his partner; “I’m really pleased with him. He continues to improve and it’s nice to be able to compete at the level below where we’re training as it consolidates the training. With him, we work with what we’ve got and I’ve been lucky that the good days have fallen when we need them to be. He’s so reliable now and I’m so pleased with his performance today.”

Northamptonshire’s Craig Millard was runner up with Shirley Rixon’s KWPN eight year old Flores L with 70.44% and third spot belonged to Laura Wollen and Woodcroft Francisco on 70.28%.

Advanced Medium

Cheshire pony rider Lavinia Johnson capped a great show, and summer, on the final day by taking victory in the Bronze division with 70.06% with her ‘mini horse’ Dublin – the only combination in the class break the magic number. They’ve had an amazing summer together with success at shows like Hickstead CDI, Bolesworth and Sheepgate earlier that week.

A beaming Lavinia said; “A few mistakes today but he keeps getting better and better. We’ve had an amazing summer and this has made it even better! I have to thank my trainers Jackie Bevan and Isobel Wessels plus everyone who’s helped me get this far. And to BD for putting these new championships on!”

The second place rosette went to Caroline Evans riding her own Zidane IV on 68.78% and Fay Butlin completed the top three with Freckleton Melody with 67.06%.

In the Silver section Essex rider Annabel Jenks celebrated ten years with her equine partner Wachtmeester with a championship title. Now 15, Wachtmeester has been a star for Annabel over their decade together with numerous Area Festival, Regional and Championship appearances but to win is very special. They ended on 71.94% just ahead of Holly Colgate-Hardaway and her huge Dalvanges Lorenzo on 71.28%. Medium Gold Champions Charlie Sawyer and Chico Too completed the podium with a score of 68.39%.

We caught Annabel as she was rushing to make her journey east; “He went in and instantly felt absolutely super. He was forward and supple but he really does love competiting to music! Thanks to my trainer Jill Day for all her support and guidance.”

The final section on Bank Holiday Monday to end a fabulous three days wast the Gold and it went to the competitor who probably had the longest journey, Eilidh Grant with her mum Lorraine’s Dutch bred mare, Eranda Retto. The judging panel of Anita Darken, Claire Ballantyne and Joyce Head all placed the duo top of the six starters with an average score of 76.17%. Eilidh also took the rosette for the best under 25 rider…bittersweet as it’s her final year she qualifies for the age group.

Eilidh took the mare on four years ago as a project ‘problem’ horse but after a first tricky few months, she built up a great relationship with the 16hh mare and they’ve not looked back. It was to be their final Advanced Medium Freestyle together as the mare is now working toward Small Tour, with an international debut planned for 2019.

Eilidh commented; “It’s been well worth the 11 hour journey! I was pleased with third in the PSG on Saturday as she’s still a bit green at that level so it’s great to win today in what’s her final Advanced Medium music test. She’s not been easy but once we get her two times and pirouettes nailed, we have high hopes for her.”

The duo make the long journey south again next month for their final straight Advanced Medium test in the Equine Construction Championship at the LeMieux National Championships.

The final rider up the centreline Olivia Towers was second with Mercian Edjena on 72.5% and Sara-Jane Lanning topped a great show with a further frilly in third with 71.06 aboard Mi Amigo.

Prix St Georges 

Surrey rider Nina Rahmatallah brought a taste of Iberia to Bury Farm in the Bronze with her Flamenco-themed freestyle programme aboard her attractive grey Lusitano gelding, Acaso. Nina (37) and 13-year-old Acaso, who haven’t been out of the top three all season, were awarded a score average of 66.54% from judges Pam Bushell (E), Jane McGarel-Groves (C) and Joyce Head (M).

Acaso was bred by one of the UK’s leading promoters and suppliers of Lusitano horses, Sussex Lusitanos. They took to Facebook to say; “Congratulations to Nina Rahmatallah and her purebred Lusitano gelding Acaso – PSG winners at the BD Music Festival Finals at Bury Farm. Acaso is one of our UK homebred horses – breeder: Sussex Lusitanos (Roger Barnett) sire: Numerario (Embaixador x Baliarina, bred by Coudelaria Romao Tavares) dam: Obreira (Hostil x Vapra, bred by Guilherme Borba) Both sire and dam are UK Champions – time now for one of their offspring! Well done Nina and Acaso!”

On the same score as the Champion, but forced to settle for second on collectives was Rachel Patrick (50) who’d made the trip from Cornwall with her Dutch-bred gelding, Nymo. Third went to another West Country rider Shayne Mathieson (36) with her 15hh gelding Cue Tip. Shayne ‘stumbled across’ the diminutive horse as an unkempt, unbacked four-year-old when she and her husband were based in Cyprus and subsequently took him on as a project. On their return to the UK, the couple couldn’t bear to leave ‘Rio’ behind and so home he came. The little bay has since gone from strength to strength, attending the Winter Championships and qualifying for Regionals at every level up to PSG.

Merseyside rider Cazzy Derby was crowned Prix St Georges Music Freestyle SilverChampion with the winning score of 67.25%. Cazzy (54) was partnered by her 10-year-old De Noir daughter, Frenderups De Nice. Taking the runner-up spot was Ireland’s Josephine Delahoyde and Lets Go 110 (66.17%), with Angela Denning (71) and her 18-year-old Westphalian gelding Di-Conti, third (65.71%).

List 1 Judge and Grand Prix rider Sara-Jane Lanning (48) won the Music Freestyle Prix St Georges Gold with her 16-year-old Small Tour ride Mi Amigo (by Zardin Firfod). Sara-Jane and the Danish-bred 16-year-old who she co-owns with partner Andrew Griffin scored 72.75%. Second belonged to Daisy Coakley and Aramis T (70.25%) with third place going to Eilidh Grant and Eranda Retto.

Three days, 18 classes – a huge first time championship which the team at Bury Farm ran with great efficiency and skill, huge congratulations to them for making it happen. Also to all the officials, judges, stewards, writers and volunteers who made it happen. Lastly to all the riders and their connections who embraced the new summer opportunity to ‘dance’ – congratulations all.

Remember, if you have any comments, ideas, and suggestions on the Championships and how they’re run, please email them to feedback@britishdressage.co.uk.

Class results – click here

Championship results – click here

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