Emile Faurie Takes National Champions Title After 27 Years
As we move swiftly from the summer into autumn, sport horse competition continues unabated. The postponed CHIO from Aachen in Germany over the weekend has its own headlines in another post on our site. In the UK the British Dressage National Championships at their new venue in Cheshire took place as well as the Blenheim Horse Trials, which has over the past years become a renowned fixture worldwide
The British Dressage National Championships
Following the Olympics and Paralympics, where Great Britain did so well, the British National Championships merit more interest than was the case in years gone by – similar to the importance of the German National Championships for the world sport of dressage. There were some 650 horses competing at Somerford Park, in Cheshire, a brand new venue for these expended championships in 2021. The classes ranged from elementary right through to Grand Prix and everything possible in between.
The organisers, British Dressage were certainly hoping that with a new venue and more riding opportunities at different levels, that the rather jaded tired looking championships held at Stoneleigh Park for years, would become a thing of the past. In the top echelons of competition, the championships were denied the very best as they had only just returned from Hagen last week following their success in the Europeans. However, there were some good up and coming riders and horses on display for the spectators to view.
One of the early classes of the week was the Prix St Georges, in which Charlotte Dujardin took part and won with 77.816% riding Imhotep. Becky Moody, a former Young Rider European Gold medallist came second with 74.711% riding Jagerbomb and third was another former medallist from Young Rider days Andrew Gould riding Genie 1 with 74.158%.The second part of the small tour, The Intermediate 1, again Charlotte Dujardin took the championship with 74.026%. The second was Lucinda Elliott riding Hawtins Duchess with 71.316%. This combination improved on their PSG performance where they came fourth. In third place was Sarah Rogers riding Viva Lotta with 70.947%. Sarah did not come forward for the Prix St Georges. Andrew Gould was fourth in this Inter 1. There were 36 combinations in the Prix St Georges and 37 in the Inter 1. The Freestyle for the PSG was again taken by Charlotte Dujardin with Becky Moody in second. Needless to say, Charlotte made it a clean sweep for the small tour classes by winning the Inter 1 Freestyle, making her tally to four. In this class, Lucinda Elliott was second with Andrew Gould in third.
The Grand Prix was a rather disappointing class in the writer’s opinion. There were only three riders from 20 able to get over the 70% mark and they all seemed to make little mistakes.
Gareth Hughes took the championship with 73.74% riding KK Dominant. Veteran rider Emile Faurie riding Dono Di Maggio was second with 71.32% with Becky Moody in third riding Famke PF with just over 70%. Becky Moody had a great championship show as she featured in the first three in all the classes she entered, and won a couple. Her best horse of the weekend was Jagerbomb, only a seven year old stallion who took the win in that class as well as showing good paces in the small tour classes. There were ten going in the Arika Grand Prix Freestyle championship, the final class to establish the British National Dressage Champion. The top three, and therefore contenders for the British Dressage National Champion was always going to be tight. The winner of the Grand Prix, Gareth Hughes came third with his freestyle with 72.625%. Becky Moody, who had a really successful few days was second with 74.725% and Emile Faurie took the class with 75.95%. This made an interesting calculation as to the overall winner of the title.
Emile Faurie took the honours with Dono Di Maggio, some 27 years after he secured his last National Champion’s title. Becky Moody, riding Famke PF, her own horse, just missed out, but she completed a very entertaining freestyle using the music from Maddona and ‘Girl power’. Gareth Hughes, despite his 2 % lead overnight made some mistakes in the tempis and that unfortunately cost him the championship. Emile Faurie took the ride Dono di Maggio from his injured owner, Theadora Livanos, a nice spare ride as it turned out! After the prize giving Emile told us “Today we got it just right and it was amazing out there. The music I rode today is very special to me, Tom Hunt – who wrote the music got it just right and it suited the horse so well. It’s an amazing win today, and a great honour. Okay, the best were not here today but I still think he delivered a great performance and it was an honour to win on him. The time will come when he will go back to his owner, but that’s fine and I’ll be happy to hand the reins back.”
Although there were plenty of spectators at these championships in its new venue, and the ‘fan zone’ was a great initiative, at times, the atmosphere was a little flat we thought. The jury is still out in our opinion as to whether the move to Somerford Park was the right one. Perhaps though, some little details could be looked at as we noticed that the main arena needed some colour in the flowers in the boxes against the boards, rather than three plastic trees with a couple of plastic white flowers in each. Despite my little criticisms, in any event, British Dressage should be congratulated on their achievement just to put the championships on with the new ideas of the fan zone and extra classes available for competitors as well as getting the spectators back where they belong.
The Blenheim Horse Trials
With all the cancellations and difficulties within the eventing world due to the pandemic, it was great to see some normality return to the eventing fixture list, and with spectators! The Blenheim Horse Trials has become a world class major 4 star event over the years, with the wonderful background of the Duke of Marlborough’s palace – the birth place of Winston Churchill. That’s the history lesson done, now for the sport! There was a strong field of 90 starting for the CSI4 star long event and after the dressage phase, lasting over two days, Yasmin Ingham riding Banzai du Loir was at the top of the leader board with 25.2 penalties. On 25.8 was Piggy March riding Brookfield Quality and Rosalind Canter riding Lordship’s Graffalo was third with 26.7 penalties. The competition was very close with 16 riders on scores of less than 30 penalties, 12 of which were within one showjumping fence of each other.
Over the cross country, 17 riders went clear and stayed on their dressage score including Yasmin Ingham who maintained her place at the top of the leader board. Seven riders were eliminated over the cross country with a further four retiring. Alex Postolowsky withdrew Denver VIII before the cross country and there were three other withdrawals before the showjumping phase. After the cross country, the top of the leader board left Piggy March in second and Rosalind Canter in third – so no change on the dressage scores for the top three. There were others in real contention for the top spot, dependant on their showjumping abilities. After the cross country, Susie Berry riding John The Bull was in fourth on 27.9 and Pippa Funnell riding Maybach, just behind on 28.4. Recent winner of the 5 star Bicton horse trials was Gemma Tattersall riding Jalapeno III on a score of 28.7, also her dressage score.
So the showjumping phase was even closer for the top ten competitors than is usually the case. Pippa Funnell and Piggy March both had a pole down, so with their extra 4 penalties, they moved down to 8th and 5th respectively. Gemma Tattersall went clear and finished in fourth place with Susie Berry, also going clear going into and finishing in third. Of the final top two, Rosalind Canter also went clear but did go over the time allowed and collected 0.4 of a penalty, but this was not enough to deny her the second place finishing on 27.10. The final rider Jasmin Ingham and leader throughout had no room to give, and only a perfect round would suffice. In the event, she went clear with no time faults and thus took the coveted title.
Photos courtesy Goldeneye Photography and horsesportireland and facebook