WHITBY’S Cara Shardlow has set her sights on competing for Great Britain at a CDI after an explosive performance on Detonator II in the Petplan Equine Area Festival Finals.
After qualification at Manor Grange Stud Area Festival in September, the pair spent the winter preparing for last weekend’s prestigious event at the British Dressage Winter Nationals at Hartpury in Gloucestershire.
And the partnership clearly impressed the judges by achieving a combination winning score of 67.02 per cent to see off 17 other combinations. Detonator II, a 10-year-old gelding, is owned and ridden by Shardlow with the Yorkshire rider’s Hartpury hero having been bought as a just broken three-year-old and having been produced by Shardlow through the levels.
And while Shardlow is still coming to terms with the magnitude of her victory, the rider hopes it is a now a case of onwards and upwards ahead of her next Premier League outing at Keyso in Bedfordshire.
Shardlow explained: “We qualified back in September last year – I had only ridden two tests at that level and qualified for the regionals straight away, so we travelled to Sheepgate in Lincolnshire to try and qualify for the finals. I was really going for the lower level qualification at PSG but thought seen as I was travelling so far I would get my Inter 1 qualification as well.
“The PSG went really well and we won gaining our qualification to the finals which I was thrilled with, so then came the Inter 1 which I really didn’t think I would stand a chance in as I had only ridden the test twice before.
“But to my surprise we won that as well gaining another qualification so we made the journey to Hartpury for the finals. The first test was the Inter 1 in which we were first to go which is never great but we put in a mistake-free test and came out with a personal best at this level of 67 per cent.
“I had an excruciating wait until the end of the class but we held the lead right to the end and won. It’s still not sunk in yet as really we are new to this level and were up against much more experienced combinations. He is such a special horse as we were third in a Premier League two weeks earlier against some of the top horses and riders in the country.”
The event was particularly sweet for the Yorkshire rider whose friend Natalie Widdowson also gained reserve champion in the same class.
Reflecting on the extra reasons to celebrate, Shardlow added: “The win was made even better as my friend Natalie Widdowson gained reserve champion in the same class, we have come up through the levels together and often travel to the big competitions together so it really was quite special. The PSG the following day was going really well but then we made a very unusual for him but costly mistake in a canter pirouette dropping us down the placings. I also had my young horse Sandonista in the Novice Open Freestyle, this was his first championships and coped very well to gain 17th best in the country.
“Detonator has a very busy year ahead contesting more Premier Leagues and we have applied to compete for GB at Small Tour level so hopefully we will get selected. The main aim this year is to get selected to compete for Great Britain at a CDI hopefully in this country and abroad at small tour level. I have my qualifying score now so fingers crossed.”
Shardlow also paid tribute to her trainer Becky Moody, adding: “I couldn’t ask for anyone better to help with our confidence. She is responsible for getting us where we are. The first time I rode him at home, he threw me and the saddle off! He’s really getting it now. We’ve learned a lot together and I guess we have got used to the bigger occasion. I’d also like to thank Horslyx, Saracens horse feed, Millbryhill and Wilf Noble building supply.”
Cara remains on the look out for another horse. The rider can be contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.