It may have been overcast at today’s LeMieux National Championships, however the para riders shone as five victors lined up to celebrate – with several claiming their first ever Para Gold National title.
Overall winner, with a sterling mark of 72.07%, was Yorkshire’s Izzy Palmer aboard Nicola Wells’ 17-year-old Dutch-bred Jazz gelding Touchdown M. After her win at last year’s Championships with Jacqueline Walker’s Pinocchio, the grade IV rider successfully defended her title with her partner of two years – known as Touch at home.
“He really went in there and tried his heart out, which is all I can ask for really,” announced Izzy. “I’m super happy, I felt like we improved from our last outing at Hartpury – which was my aim – so I’m really happy with today’s test. “For me, I was pleased with my walk work because sometimes I can just sit there and forget to ride it but today I felt that it was an improvement. We’ve had a lot of training in preparation and I think that gives you the confidence in the arena to be able to go in there and show your best. It’s a case of staying confident in there, not backing off and being able to ride each movement positively.”
Twenty-one-year-old Georgia Wilson claimed her first Nationals title with her own German gelding by Chico’s Boy, Chico 3. “I was really pleased with it, he listened to me really well and I got my shapes right – which is always great.” Scoring a championship personal best of 71.57%, the pair – who train with Sophie Wells - earned their grade II title as they also broke the 70% barrier for the first time this year.
Another to claim their first Nationals title was grade I rider Mari Durward-Akhurst. Scoring 71.49% aboard Glesni Owen’s 18-year-old son of Welt Hit II, Sky O’Hara, Mari topped the tables despite not having the best run up to the competition. “It’s almost a miracle that I’m here and able to compete.” Mari explained. “I had further deterioration of my condition and have been suffering a lot of pain so I haven’t been able to ride at all. We were just happy to take whatever we got, so I couldn’t believe we won! I was absolutely thrilled with my test, he went the best he’s ever gone and I absolutely nailed my halt.”
Buckinghamshire’s Amanda Shirtcliffe went the extra mile to ensure that she and Jon McFarland’s ten year old mare, New Princess, were fully prepared for today. “We went to Blenheim Palace for a para dressage demo in preparation for today, she was a little spooky there but it helped as today she found it really easy and didn’t look at all – there were no jumps to be scared of!”
Scoring an impressive 71.47%, Amanda and the Danish mare have celebrated much success in their short time together, adding today’s win to their long list. “My test was really good, for a change. My last halt was particularly good, I always have a problem with halts, they’re usually what I call ‘Hokey Cokey’ halts; there’s always a leg out.” The dynamic duo had two reasons to celebrate, as they also placed sixth in today’s Dodson & Horrell Novice Silver Championship.
Para newbie Gillian Brown has burst onto the scene this year, claiming her first National Grade V title with her own 12-year-old Welsh section D, Meikle Rustler, on a solid score of 66.79%. “He was good today, he had a decent clear round in the arena and did everything I asked for, there’s lots more to come because he has a lot to learn – he can be quite quirky, section D style!
“He loves atmosphere, he likes the occasion – noise, razzamatazz, the more the better as he thinks it’s all for him. I never expected to win, it’s my first year in paras and my first ever Nationals so I never expected to win - he’s done so well for a pony we found in the field having done nothing.”
Article Source:British Dressage News
Image Courtesy Kevin Sparrow Photography
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