-- Text by British Dressage, edited by Eurodressage
With the CDI Hickstead on 12 - 14 May 2023 as the next stop on a busy tour of spring internationals, a host of high-flying British youth riders made the most of a fantastic opportunity to gain selection scores and valuable arena time at a top-drawer event. Only British and Irish riders competed in these divisions as no European mainlanders crossed the Channel.
Each division featured just two international classes with Hickstead not staging any freestyles for the "kids".
Pony Riders: Sofia Games and Abigail Gray Head-to-Head
In the Pony competition, the top spots were split between Sofia Games, who claimed the Team test, and Individual test winner Abigail Gray. 2022 Pony European Championships team member Sofia presented new ride Lauren Geraghty’s WS Jackson at Hickstead; the chestnut gelding also has a team appearance under his belt, having represented Great Britain alongside Sofia at last year’s Strzegom championship fixture. The new combination performed in sync to be rewarded 70.191% by Eduard De Wolff Van Westerrode (NED), Magnus Ringmark (SWE) and Juan Carlos Campos Escribano (ESP).
Aberdeenshire rider Abigail Gray made the long journey to the South Downs more than worthwhile, achieving an international with the striking George Clooney B.S, former ride of fellow Hickstead winner Mette Dahl. The duo scored 72.162% for an assured trip around the Individual test, achieving high marks for lateral work in trot, extended walk and a well-presented final centre line and half from medium trot.
Children: Violet Hawkins
In the Children age group, Violet Hawkins added two more international wins to her name, on board her mother Alex’s 12-year old pony gelding DZL Royal Sunrise (by Domingos Golden Surprise x Brockwell's Prince Charming). The youngster, trained by Jayne Turney, rode to 74.725% in the Team test, before posting 70.218% in Saturday’s Individual competition.
Izabel Worthington was hot on Violet’s heels, riding to a dyad of second placings with Clare Worthington’s 13-year old mare Machno Gabrielle (by Relmo x Tylan Danny), bred in Wales by Meirion Jones.
Junior Riders: Winning CDI Debut for Dahl and Caporal
Mett Dahl completed a Hickstead double on her international debut appearance with new dancing partner Caporal de Massa.
Formerly campaigned by France’s Mathilde Juglaret, the 11-year old purebred Lusitano has excelled in the FEI Junior category, achieving a bronze medal at the 2022 Junior European Championships; now in the hands of Mette, his impressive record looks set to continue as the Surrey-based teen did a stellar job in producing the gelding to 71.818% (Team test) and 70.049% (Individual test).
Young Riders: Ruby Hughes in Charge
Warwickshire-based Ruby Hughes made it a clean sweep of victories in the Young Rider tour, with Kate Lister’s conscientious gelding World Exclusive putting his best foot forward for his youthful pilot.
In the team competition, the combination scored 69.853% in front of Anne Prain (FRA), Alexandra Lecarda Leão (BRA) and Mary Robins (NZL) to place them ahead of Lily Laughton and the 18-year old Skovborgs Romadinov (by Blue Hors Romanov x Mago xx). Third placed rider Lilah Gibbs stepped up to second in the Individual competition with her own Hannoverian Dude III, as Ruby took home her second win of the week, this time the score was a convincing 70.588%.
The teen looks set to follow in her father’s footsteps, and enjoyed a busy week with three rides across two age categories; speaking on social media, a delighted Ruby commented, “what a week to remember! We took four horses to Hickstead CDI, and I was competing three of them so it was 110% an extremely busy busy week! I feel like we have to start of with the champion [World Exclusive], I’m the luckiest girl in the world to ride such an amazing horse. This was only our third international together and we made it a double. Wex is incredible and the experience I'm gaining from riding him is invaluable!”
Photos © Elli Birch