Dressage makes its bow on Hickstead's main showground
Riders hailed the inaugural I.C.E Horseboxes All England Dressage Festival at Hickstead (21-23 May) a great success after three days of thrilling competition.
A strong line-up of 25 riders came forward for Saturday’s LeMieux Premier League FEI Grand Prix 2014 Direct Qualifier, with Anna Ross and Newton Domino scoring 70.540% to take a narrow victory ahead of Olympic rider Fiona Bigwood and Fame XX (70.400%).
The 11-year-old rising star Newton Domino proved herself one to watch for the future, gaining her highest Grand Prix score to date.
“She was super, I was so pleased for her but to be honest I was really surprised to win!” said Anna, who was in the middle of teaching one of her pupils when she realised she had to go to the prize giving. “We have only done four Grand Prix tests together but she really stepped up and the things we’ve been working on paid off, so I’m thrilled with her.”
‘Dotty’, as she is known at home, is an 11-year-old mare (De Niro x Rubinstein) bred in Devon at Lorna Wilson’s Newton Stud, which is next door to Anna's base Elite Dressage. The pair scored highly in the piaffe, passage and canter pirouettes to push them over that 70% barrier, with one judge scoring them as high as 73%.
It made the long trip to West Sussex more than worthwhile for Anna. "I absolutely loved the show. It was so well run and a real asset to the calendar. It felt like an international with all the space around and the iconic showjumping arena just next door, so horses could experience that 'big show' atmosphere."
Louise Bell, who has won countless showing titles at the All England Jumping Course during her career, finished third with the former working hunter champion turned dressage star, Into The Blue (69.540%), while Olympian Emile Faurie and Shilo took fourth place on 68.260%.
In Sunday's I.C.E Horseboxes FEI Grand Prix Special, Caroline Chew and Tribiani claimed a definitive win, scoring 69.941% to go more than two percent clear of Ireland’s Dane Rawlins and Espoire in second.
Caroline represents Singapore in international competition, though she is based in Britain where she works full time as a lawyer. The 27-year-old is the first Singaporean rider to compete at Grand Prix level, and she has represented her country at the Asian Games, the Youth Olympics and the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon.
“It was so nice to be out again!” said Caroline. “Like many riders I’ve been impacted by Covid, and I’ve had almost a year off competing so it’s great that he’s come out feeling so well.”
Caroline has owned Tribiani – a 17-year-old gelding known to his friends as Joey – for six years. “We were looking for a horse who could take me to regional games, and I don’t think we ever imagined that we would compete internationally and even try for World Championships,” she says. “It’s been completely unexpected and a great journey.”
She trains with Matt Frost, who won the Fairfax Saddles Premier League FEI Prix St Georges with Helga.
The Gould family had double reason to celebrate on the final day of the show, with Andrew Gould claiming the honours in the Saracen Horse Feeds Premier League FEI Intermediate I qualifier with Genie I, while his 17-year-old son Ollie won the Junior Individual test with Feiner Stern II.
West Sussex-based rider Sarah Millis scored a double of wins in the young horse classes with the talented six-year-olds Kissingdale and Kodora.
It was the first British Dressage show to take place at the main Hickstead showground, and though the unseasonable weather made things a little challenging for some, riders were full of praise for the venue. Locally-based rider Amy Stovold commented: “It’s absolutely fantastic and I’m so pleased we have something like this in the area. The organisers have done a fantastic job and I think it’s going to be something so good for the future.”