Skill and smartness were both much in evidence at Duchy College’s Affiliated and Unaffiliated Dressage event on Saturday. Athwenna Irons reports.
A young rider with Olympic connections was on top form at Duchy College's affiliated and unaffiliated dressage event, which took place last Saturday at the Stoke Climsland campus in Cornwall.
Nine-year-old Holly Kerslake dominated the Prelim classes with a double victory on her own Millcroft Osiris. Holly, from Lifton in West Devon, is the only under-16 currently in training with double Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Dujardin.
The petite Welsh Section B gelding, by Ardenhall Missoni, refused to let the warmbloods dance him out of the arena, scoring an impressive 71.7% to take the Prelim 13 Qualifier.
After a quick break, the combination then returned to win the Prelim 19 Qualifier with a score of 65.9%, under the watchful eye of judge Claire Deithrick.
It has already been a bumper year for Holly and "Ozzy", after taking the Prelim championship title at the South West BYRDS Festival of Dressage and achieving personal best scores of 75% and 78%.
Naomi Binns was also a double winner, leading the open section of both Novice tests with Anita Pidgeon's thoroughbred stallion Midnight Runner II.
Naomi has only recently returned from competing for the South West team at the Senior Home Internationals in Ayrshire, a round trip of approximately 600 miles from her home in Ashwater near Holsworthy.
After covering his first crop of mares in the morning, the son of Contract Law went on to display impeccable manners and focus wholeheartedly on the tests in hand.
The change of duty did not faze the 10-year-old as he achieved winning scores of 66.9% in Novice 24 and 66.2% in the Novice 35 Qualifier.
The combination, who have only been together for three months, were on their third outing of the season, following a score of 71.5% at Colraine Equestrian Centre last time out.
"He was relaxed and going forwards so I was very pleased with him," said Naomi.
"His trainability and ride-ability are definitely his main plus points".
In the restricted section, Rowan Van Houben and her ex-racehorse King's Silver were in poll position, as judge Claire Deithrick awarded them 65% to take the Novice 35 Qualifier. The partnership also finished second in Elementary 42, with another score of 65%.
Neil Smith's Rock Steady Red was on his best behaviour to win the restricted section of Novice 24 with 70.8%. The pair also finished second in the Novice 35 Qualifier with 64.6%, despite being a little spooky in the outdoor arena.
The 11-year-oldWelsh x Thoroughbred produced a pleasing test for Jo Batty-Smith, who judged the Novice 24.
"He can be on the edge, so he can get quite tense and then you're in a battle", said Neil, who is from Chilsworthy and works as a teacher at Callington Community College."Today he was really soft and listening to me which was great".
"We only started doing dressage a couple of years ago. We previously had a trainer who said I should do some dressage as he moves nicely and it's just snowballed from there, it's like an addiction!" added Neil, who now trains with Pammy Hutton.
Rebecca Ezra, from Hatt near Saltash, and her ride For Debate headed the Elementary 42 on their score of 65.3%.
Despite only being on a training ride in this class, Sandie Newton from Callington was pleasantly surprised as her retired point to pointer, Austin Approved, added another string to his bow by scoring 66.6% in his first ever elementary test, which was the highest elementary score of the day.
In the final classes, judged by Nicky du Plessis, Kay Palmer and Mack the Knife took the Elementary 57 Qualifier with 65.7%, and carried on to win the Medium 61 with a score of 65.5%.
The morning's unaffiliated classes were also well supported.
Audrey Cole and Sambucca were double winners, clinching the twelve strong Prelim 19 class with 69.1%, and the Novice 24 with 71.1%.
With 21 starters, the Prelim 13 was the largest class of the day. After just under three hours of judging, Val Walkden awarded Catherine Ferrington and her ride Lodi a score of 70.8% to take the top honours.