At Keysoe CPEDI on 4 – 6 October 2022, Georgia Wilson and Nicola Naylor each achieved a 3* hat-trick, while Suzanna Hext made a triumphant return to the arena after two years away from FEI para dressage.
Georgia Wilson, who with her number one ride Sakura was part of the British team in Herning that secured qualification for Paris 2024, rode Geoff and Julie Wilson’s Midnight (Hilkens Black Delight x Cassander) to a clean sweep of the CPEDI3* Grade II classes here at Keysoe.
While Sakura enjoys a well-earned holiday, Georgia and Midnight (pictured above), who together were triple medalists at the 2019 FEI Para Dressage European Championships in Rotterdam, posted the winning scores of 72.545%, 71.059% and 73.334% in the Team, Individual and Freestyle respectively.
“I was so pleased with her [Midnight],” said Georgia. “All year, we’ve not had the softness together with the power, but at Keysoe I was starting to get both. It was good to be able to produce, at a show, the work that I know she can do.”
For the past year, 13-year-old Midnight has also been competed by Georgia’s sister, Sophie, with whom she contested the Elementary and Medium Silver at the LeMieux National Championships. “Sophie is an eventer, but I think she’s secretly got the bug for dressage!”
The 27-year-old from Conwy also achieved second place in Grade II Team and Individual tests with British-bred gelding Faside Got the Love (Grey Flannell x San Amour), who she co-owns with her parents Geoff and Julie Wilson.
“My six-year-old was so good,” said Georgia, referring to the promising young ride who is known at home as Jax. “I got him from Matt Burnett in 2020 at four years old and as a stallion. He was really sharp, but I took a gamble, had him cut and brought him home. Stena [Hoerner] and Sophie rode him for about 12 months, and I’ve competed him lightly this year.
“I wasn’t expecting to get these scores with Jax at our first international,” she continued. “Last year, he qualified for the Novice Gold at the Nationals with Stena, but she had to retire him because he spooked at the flower pots. He’s gained in confidence and come a long way. I’m working on getting the contact right, then I can ask for more power.”
Nicola Naylor with her own and Ros Kay’s Humberto L (pictured above) continued their super 2022 with a triple win in the CPEDI3* Grade IV competition. Nicola, who is blind and also competes in able-bodied competition at Small Tour level, rode the 10-year-old Cachet x Haarlem gelding to win the Team Test on 70.200%, the Individual on 71.610% and the Freestyle on 73.910%.
“I was delighted with Humberto,” commented Nicola. “I was aiming for us to get consistently better in our scores each day, reflecting a better way of going and confidence, and we achieved that – he really found his rhythm. It was the final international for us before the next season, so a great way of finishing the year.
“What I like most is that at each show this year his way of going has got better,” continued Nicola, who trains with Sarah Millis. “Sarah has helped immensely in this process, together with the fantastic support from the World Class Programme.”
In the CPEDI3* Grade V competition, Charlotte Cundall made an impression to win both the Individual test with The Veyron Partnership’s FJ Veyron (by Vivaldi) and the Freestyle with Lady Joseph Trust’s 13-year-old Danish gelding LJT Simply Red on super scores of 71.715% and 72.990% respectively.
Fresh from her Grade V win in the Para Gold Championships at the Nationals with Tokyo and World Championships team ride, Don Cara M, Sophie Wells took the opportunity to give rising star Egebjerggards Samoa (St Schufro x Gribaldi) her first international outing.
The Danish-bred six-year-old black mare, who is owned by the Lady Joseph Trust, started her education under Sophie in young horse classes. Here at Keysoe she scored 71.861% to win the Grade V Team Test.
“Diana (LJT Egebjerggards Samoa) learnt so much each day,” said Sophie on social media. “Of course there were green moments and some tension, but the important thing is she came back to me and carried on. She is so talented, and I love the bones of her and feel so lucky to ride her. She had a win on day one with 71.8%, a few dramatics on day two for 68% and second in the Freestyle today with 71.9%, with some lovely marks and comments.”
Canada's Sheffield Stamps Authority in 3* Grade III
Overseas riders enjoyed much success in the CPEDI3*. Hong Kong’s Pui Ting Natasha Tse and Jockey Club Caraat (Gribaldi x Negro) achieved a clean sweep in the Grade I on scores of 72.000%, 72.107% and 74.047% respectively, while Canada’s Roberta Sheffield stamped her authority with wins across the board in the Grade III.
With her British-bred 13-year-old mare, Fairuza, Lincolnshire-based Bert won the Team Test on 72.000%, the Individual Test on 71.853% and the Freestyle on 73.714%. Sheffield was satisfied with her personal best in the individual test.
“I was pleased with our scores,” she said. “Equalling our personal best in the team test and a new one in the individual. Fairuza just gets better and better. The judges recognize our partnership and how far we have come from raw material I presented them back in 2018. I couldn’t be more thankful for this wonderful horse, Fairuza is a legend.”
Sheffield drove back to home base in Lincolnshire over 100 kilometres north, where she and her mare will spend the winter training and doing some able-bodied dressage competitions. “We want to be absolutely on top of our game for the Paris 2024 qualifiers next season.”
Suzanna Hext dominated the CPEDI2* Grade II, winning the Novice A on 72.971%, the Team Test on 72.525% and the Freestyle on 72.000% with Pammy Hutton’s 22-year-old KWPN gelding, Thijmingh (by Flemmingh) - pictured above.
Suzanna, who won triple gold at the 2017 European Para Championships in Gothenburg with Pammy and Charlie Hutton’s Abira, also swims competitively after initially taking up the sport for physio and fitness for riding. She put dressage on hold in 2019, the year that she burst onto the British Para Swimming scene. That year, she won silver and bronze at the World Para Swimming Championships, and most recently competed in the sport at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Suzanna trains with Pammy Hutton and this was her first FEI competition since Keysoe CPEDI three years ago. "It was a phenomenal week," said Suzanna. "It was so lovely to see everyone again... so many people I haven't seen for ages."
Suzanna had a recent three-week stay in hospital following cochlear implant surgery, and was not long out of hospital before Keysoe. "I rode Timmy just five times at Talland beforehand and I'd not ridden for consecutive days, so I wasn't sure how my body would cope with a three-day show. I definitely felt it by the third day! But it was incredible and I couldn't stop smiling. We had an amazing week."
"I love both sports," says Suzanna, a former event rider who experienced a life-changing fall in 2012 while backing a young horse, and was inspired by London 2012 to take up para dressage. "When I'm on a horse or in a pool is when I feel most free, and each help me both mentally and physically. It's when I feel the most able. They are happy places for me.
"My main focus will be swimming leading up to Paris, and the Swimming World Championships next year, but it was amazing to be back competing in dressage, with the equestrian family that I will always feel a part of. When I made the difficult decision in 2019 to focus on swimming, I had a slight lull in horsepower, and age-wise there's a bit more of a limit with swimming, but riding will always be my first love."
About Thijmingh she said, "I've not been riding him for long but we clicked straight away. You would never know he was 22 - he looks phenomenal and he's a credit to Talland. Competing him at Keysoe has been a real boost. I've been through a lot with my health the past couple of years, so it's lovely to be back. I have to keep pinching myself."
Another big-scoring competitor in the CPEDI2* was Great Britain’s Tegan Vincent-Cook who won the Grade I Novice A, the Grade I Team Test and the Grade I Freestyle with scores of 71.417%, 72.500% and 70.367% respectively aboard her 14-year-old mare, Stolen Kiss (by Stravinsky) - pictured above.
"I think three-day shows are my thing," said Tegan on social media. "We love Keysoe! Each day Coco and I felt more confident and excited to get in the arena. And I think it showed as we left with three amazing scores... the freestyle was so fun and brought me so much joy.
"I also loved watching, cheering on and learning from all the Grade IIIs and Grade Is as well as all the other athletes, judges and BD team. It was such a great learning experience. I'm looking forward to putting all I've learned into action over the winter."
Grade III rider Sharon Kelsall and her lovely Westphalian mare GDH Summer Hit (by Showmaker) - pictured above - delivered three super performances. The highest-scoring duo across the CPEDI1* grades, they achieved 60.867% in Tuesday’s Novice A, 63.867% in Wednesday’s Novice A and 64.000% in the Freestyle.
Text by British Dressage / Equine Canada