The hotly contested Championships acted as the pinnacle of the Dengie Winter League for Pony Club competitors who have taken part in qualifiers during the winter months.
Saturday’s Show Jumping competition kicked off with the Winter League warm up class ahead of the Championships. It was a win for Tori Surgeoner (aged 13) who rode Rocket Lady to victory; making the long trip from the Mid Antrim Branch worthwhile by going clear in a time of 46.60.
Hannah Dawson (15) clinched the top spot in the Winter League Championships for the Cleveland Hunt Branch. Hannah and Ellies Miss Chief, who at just 13.2hh was one of the smallest ponies in the class, went clear in the first round and rode a speedy, clear jump-off to finish in 28.72; just 0.05 seconds ahead of Garth Hunt’s Maddison Peries (11) who was runner up riding Humbug.
At Open level, Newcastle & North Durham Branch’s Natasha Askew (21) took the win in the Warm Up class riding Mr Irish Bailey clear in a time of 50.64. Natalie was over 2 seconds faster than runner up Stephanie Sherborne (20) who clinched 2nd place riding Kimba Rock (stable name Rocky) for the Wilton Hunt Branch.
Paul Thompson’s testing Open Grand Prix course asked all the right questions, and after two rounds just four riders went through to jump-off. Victory went to an ecstatic Stephanie Sherborne and Kimba Rock; the only combination to accrue no faults throughout. Last year’s winner Hollie Pearce rode clear in both rounds but had one unlucky pole down in the jump-off to finish in 2nd place. Stephanie Sherborne said:
“I am over the moon to have won; it’s a dream come true! Rocky has all the talent and is exceptionally quick if he can keep himself calm and focused. If he was a child he would never be able to sit still!”
Stephanie went on to say that although Rocky jumped well from the outset, she knew anything could happen.
“It’s a frustrating sport at times.”
Stephanie continued to thank her mum, who gives up all her spare time and travels up and down the country to take her competing, despite having very little love for horses.
Day two of the Dengie Winter Championships welcomed sunshine and almost 100 riders taking part in the Novice, Intermediate and Open level Dressage.
Emilia Nelson (11) from the South Berkshire Branch took the top spot in the Novice Dressage riding Radway Harlequin to a score of 79.30%. Meynell Hunt Branch’s Holly Clarke (11) and Newoak Truffel finished in second position with a score of 76.80%.
The newly introduced Intermediate level was deemed a huge success with 37 riders qualifying at Area events up and down the UK. The Ridgeway Branch’s Danielle McCormack (17) rode Heavenly High Jinks to victory with a score of 74.11%, narrowly beating runner-up Millie Toulson-Clarke (14) who scored 73.87% riding Tom; a horse belonging to Hannah Francis.
The Open Championships were equally competitive, seeing a win for the Deeside Branch’s Matilda Haley (14) and Watch Me! (also known as Gari) who finished on a score of 72.57%. Maddie O’Carroll (19) and The Silver Brumby took the runner-up spot for a second consecutive time with a score of 69.26%. The journey from Scotland was made even more worthwhile for Matilda who also won the Open Individual Freestyle Dressage to Music class with an impressive score of 83.93%. Chantelle Symonds (22) rode Stadmorslow Coffee n Cream to 2nd place for the Wylye Valley Branch, finishing on 77.32%.
Matilda Haley commented:
“This was my first attempt at Open level and to be amongst the top Pony Club Open riders was brilliant! Addington Manor was amazing, and the indoor arena was really inspiring. Gari gave me everything I asked for; it felt like our minds were tuned in – he’s such an amazing partner.”
Matilda went on to thank her mum and dad who drove for over 12 hours to get to the Winter Championships, and Pony Club and Dengie for an ‘amazing’ weekend.
Just half a mark separated 1st and 2nd place in the nail-biting Intermediate Individual Freestyle Dressage to Music competition. It was a win for a surprised and delighted Hilary Secker (22) from the Cheshire Hunt North Branch. Hilary, who scored 71.67% riding Pinecroft Blaze, narrowly pipped Nicola Taylor (21) from the Littleport & District Branch who finished 2nd on 71.39% with Jananda Fringe Chic.