Marlborough riders were out in force at the Bates National Dressage Championships in Christchurch at the weekend and they returned home with plenty of silverware.
Blenheim 19-year-old Nicola French was crowned national level six champion and champion C6-C7 rider. Riding her impressive gelding Don Freese, or Harold to those who know him well, French put in two outstanding performances to win both championship tests.
Even more remarkable is that it was only the pair's second competition at the top hat and tails level, and their first against the adults.
"I am so excited. It has been a great weekend and I know I still have lots of improvements to make." French said.
"We have learnt everything together so we have a pretty special relationship; we spend nearly 20 hours a week together".
Two major competitions in the North Island remain for French, the North Island Championships and the prestigious Horse of the Year Show at Hastings.
Last year the duo moved to Palmerston North where French studies psychology at Massey University.
"We went to Massey because of the amazing horse facilities and so I can train with instructor Penny Castle regularly . . . after horse of the year, Harold will be travelling to Germany and I will leave after the first semester is finished."
Europe is the mecca for dressage and the opportunity to train and compete was the best choice for French.
Another national championship returned to Marlborough with teenager Sarah Wadworth, who rode Faemoss BW to victory at level three.
Two winning performances from two tests capped off a brilliant 10 days in Christchurch. The previous weekend the combination took out an impressive five titles at the New Zealand National Showcase Championship Show.
Wadworth has been at boarding school for the past five years, but the summer break gave horse and rider a chance to gel as a combination.
"We have only really got it together in the last three weeks. I haven't been as patient as I should [have been], but with the stress of school over it has given us a chance to build as a partnership."
Mum, Jo, who was third in the level four title on World Ovation, bred Faemoss BW and rides and trains her while Sarah is at school. "Mum is probably my biggest inspiration. I am very lucky with my family support."
Sarah is heading to Otago University to study law and science.
Mother of two, Anna Gale was Marlborough's third national title winner, capturing the level two championship on the Sue McCallum-owned Jive Thyme.
"I am thrilled and it is a fabulous result for his owner. Sue is very happy and excited," said Gale, who was the busiest rider competing over the weekend riding four horses across four different grades. Gale, who lives at North Bank, is a professional rider and regularly has about six horses in work.
Seddon's Patrick Redwood also shone in level two, winning three out of four tests he entered, including the Canterbury Dressage CN-C7 Rider Championship. It was the first time Redwood has competed in dressage outside of Marlborough and Nelson.
Other Marlborough riders to impress were Janelle Sangster-Ward and Janna Greene.
Sangster Ward, of SW Equestrian, was relieved to have her top mare Astek Ghisella back in form after health issues had interrupted their season. The showy mare won the Elite Equine Six-Year-Old Championship and was third overall in the level three title. Greene also enjoyed a successful show with five-year-old Grandiosie, being awarded reserve champion in level one and their age group final.
Last Friday Patrick Redwood (level two) and Tracey Johnson (level 6/7) were victorious at the Challenge Finals.
Johnson and Janna Green were also the overall winners of their respective levels for the South Island Challenge Accumulator series.
Day one, Saturday February 2:
Level one championship, round one: Janna Greene, Grandiosie 70.4%, 2. Level two championship, round one: Patrick Redwood, Kitset 72.11%, 1; Anna Gale, Jive Thyme 71.53%, 2; Rose Prendeville, SE Grissini 71.53%, 3. Level three championship, round one: Sarah Wadworth, Faemoss B.W 69.32%, 1; Janelle Sangster-Ward, Astek Ghisella 66.75%, 4. Level four championship, round one: Jo Wadworth, World Ovation 67.03%, 3. Level six championship, round one: Nicola French, Don Freese 66.64%, 1. Level seven championship, round one: Tracey Johnson, Apollo 4 67.60%, 1.
Day two, Sunday February 3:
Level one championship, round two: Franzie van Bruggen, Fortunato 70.75%, 1; Janna Green, Grandosiso 68.25%, 4. Level two championship, round two: Anna Gale, Jive Thyme 71.53%, 4; Sue Lucas, RV Georgie Girl 70.19%, 6; Rose Prendeville, SE Grissini 70.19%, 7; Patrick Redwood, Kitset 69.61%, 8. Level three championship, round three: Sarah Wadworth, Faemoss 67.59%, 1; Janelle Sangster-Ward, Astek Ghisella 65.46%, 3; Sharon Inwood, Akkron 61.94%, 7. Level four championship, round two: Jo Wadworth, World Ovation 62.66%, 3. Level six championship, round two freestyle: Nicola French, Don Freese 70%, 1; Tracey Johnson, Apollo 64.66%, 6. Pony test 1.6: Charlotte Wadsworth, MF Zanbuck 59.50%, 5. Young dressage horse five-year old: Janna Green, Grandiose 2. Young dressage horse six year-old: Janelle Sangster-Ward, Astek Ghisella 1. Masters CN-C4: Sue Lucas, RV Georgie Girl 1. Young rider: Nicola French, reserve champion.
National level six: Champion - Nicola French and Don Freese.
National level three: Champion - Sarah Wadworth and Faemoss.
National level two: Champion - Anna Gale and Jive Thyme.
National level one: Reserve champion - Janna Green and Grandiose.
Friday, February 1
Vetpro level one challenge: Janna Green, Grandiosie 70.21%, 3. Matthews Hanoverians level two challenge: Patrick Redwood, Kitset 72.40%, 1; Anna Gale, Jive Thyme 69.25%, 4. Denis Reichanbach level three challenge: Sarah Wadworth, Faemoss B.W. 66.02%, 3. Hatton Horse Floats level five challenge: Anna Gale, GB Donner Benelli 65.63%, 2. Hobson Horsecoaches advanced challenge: Tracey Johnson, Apollo 4 65.47%, 1; Nicola French, Don Freese 64.31%, 3. Cn-C2 novice championship test 2.3: Patrick Redwood 72.29%, 1; Sarah French 69.37%, 2.
South Island Challenge Accumulator leaderboard
Vetpro challenge, level one: Janna Green, Grandiose 1. Matthews Hanoverian Challenge, level two: Patrick Redwood, Kitset 3. Denis Reichenbach Challenge, level three: Sharon Inwood, Akkron 2. NRM Challenge, level four: Jo Wadworth, World Ovation 3. Hatton Horse Floats Challenge, level five: Anna Gale, First Jupp 4. Hobsons Horsecoaches Challenge, level 6/7: Tracey Johnson, Apollo IV 1.
- The Marlborough Express
Who will win the Press Cup on Saturday, 2.30pm, Lansdowne Park, Blenheim?