Following 20 nationwide qualifying rounds, the ever-popular RoR Racehorse to Dressage Horse Series, supported by the Horserace Betting Levy Board, reached its much-awaited championship final at Houghton Hall on 24-25 September 2016.
Now in its sixth year, this series continues to attract a wealth of riders with former racehorses now successfully shaping a career within the dressage arena. The versatility of the thoroughbred racehorse is well known and was very much in evidence as more than 150 combinations strutted their stuff at the Cambridgeshire venue.
The weekend was inspirational as it showed what can be achieved with the re-education of these supreme athletes, all of whom have raced on British soil. It demonstrated their willingness to turn a hoof to a second career, and what capable partners they can be in the sport of dressage.
Travelling from Chepstow to contest the Medium and Medium Freestyle Championships, Emma Matthews (45) and Newgate Times (pictured), enjoyed great success winning both classes with 68.79% and 67.66% respectively. Emma and ‘Bronco’ as he’s known, an attractive 17-year-old gelding by Timeless Times, have been competing together in affiliated dressage since January last year and they also have a good track record with British Eventing, competing successfully to Intermediate.
“It was a spectacular day!” Emma told British Dressage. “I didn’t know where to place him [Newgate Times]. We’ve been competing at Medium for not quite a year and qualified for the Winter Regionals and have competed at a Summer Regional, but against the warmbloods we have to be very accurate.”
“Racehorses, they’re very special,” smiled Emma, clearly very fond of the horse she acquired as a five-year-old. “I bought him from his breeder in North Yorkshire. He’d raced but was too slow. He didn’t want to run, and over hurdles jumped too high, so was perfect for me as an event horse. He came to me with the name ‘Bronco’ as he was cold-backed and quite naughty when in training – he had a bit of a reputation!” she added. The elegant bay soon put that behind him and became a loyal partner for Emma with a long list of achievements including reaching the RoR Racehorse to Riding Horse Championships at the Hickstead Derby Meeting.
Emma credits much of her dressage success to trainer Adam Kemp, who she met a year ago. “He’s been inspirational and really understands thoroughbreds having evented before becoming a dressage rider – that’s why I chose him as a trainer.”
At these championships, Emma and Bronco demonstrated their flair for dressage with a Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire-inspired routine featuring ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’ sung by Bruce Forsyth, ‘Happy Feet’ for canter and Glen Miller music for the trot.
Another dual winner over the weekend was Berkshire rider Helen Sanderson (52) with her 16-year-old son of Desert Prince, Todlea. Helen and ‘Tod’ not only won the Intro C, they also took the Prelim 19 winning both tests with impressive plus-72% scores. The weekend proved very emotional for Helen and her support team, and their great performances put Tod’s imminent retirement on hold. “OMG what a fantastic day,” said Helen on her Facebook page, clearly delighted. “Just to win one championship was amazing but to then win the prelim championship afterwards was a dream. Toddy’s retirement is now not an option.”
The 2016 Champions
Helen Sanderson with Todlea, 72.07%
Helen Sanderson with Todlea, 72.71%
Judith Barker with My Diss Sire, 72.42%
Amy Ferris with Sandmartin, 70.86%
Emma Matthews with Newgate Times, 68.79%
Novice Music Freestyle
Louise Robson with So Ecstatic, 71.67%
Elementary Music Freestyle
Andrea Cox with James Dee, 67.50%
Medium Music Freestyle
Emma Matthews with Newgate Times, 67.66%
For full results click here
29 March at 12 : 49 PM 0
29 March at 12 : 16 PM 0
28 March at 12 : 18 PM 0
26 March at 12 : 04 PM 0