Caroline enjoys winning gamble with Hanoverian star Habanero

Caroline Saynor riding Habanero at the National Dressage Championships. Picture by Kevin Sparrow.
Caroline Saynor riding Habanero at the National Dressage Championships. Picture by Kevin Sparrow.
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CAROLINE SAYNOR admits that when she first set eyes on a young grey gelding called Habanero it was quite shock.

“He was built like a tank, I didn’t think I’d ever ride him,” said Caroline.

She had bought him unseen from Germany, on the advice of a friend, having only seen a photo of him.

“He was a just backed three-year-old, recently gelded and big. When he came off the lorry, I thought ‘what have I done?’ but from day one he’s been completely straight forward,” said Carloline.

She runs a dressage yard at Walton, Wakefield and specialises in working with Hanoverian horses. Buying Habanero may have been a gamble but it is one that is obviously paying off.

“We just clicked immediately and he’s turned out to be the most amazing horse,” said Caroline. “He’s never been a huge, amazing mover but he’s very adjustable and has a very good mind.”

Now aged seven, Habanero was third in the Potential International Championship finals as a five-year-old. He won his first advanced class earlier this year and qualified for the northern regionals at medium and advanced medium levels.

At this competition, at Fry’s Equestrian Centre at Aike, East Yorkshire, Caroline and Habanero qualified for the recent Dressage Deluxe National Dressage Championships in the advanced medium section.

This is the event of the year for dressage riders, with more than 500 riders competing to become national champions from preliminary up to grand prix level.

“In that atmosphere, I thought we would just go for a clear round and if the changes came off and everything was relaxed, I would be happy,” said Caroline.

In the event, she could not have been happier. Habanero took everything in his stride to win the Martin Collins Advanced Medium Restricted Championship with a score of 68.63 per cent.

“He’s a very exciting horse and to bring a national title back to Yorkshire is quite something,” said Caroline. “I have just about come down to earth.” She has high hopes of progressing up the levels with this horse and goes for regular training with former Olympic rider Emile Faurie.

“We have started grand prix work at home. His piaffe and passage is developing nicely and he has amazing ability for tempi-changes,” said Caroline. “To get to grand prix level would be fantastic.”

Dusty in successful return to college

A RETURN visit to Bishop Burton College following a team gold win there last year in the European Pony Championships, proved a success for experienced pony Done And Dusted VI.

With his new jockey, Francesca Fitzherbert, 13, from Derbyshire, he won the first BE90 National Schools Equestrian Association (NSEA) competition. The pair finished on their dressage score of 28.5 to win the section.

Francesca has only owned Dusty for a month after taking over the ride from Sophie Beaty. “I’ve never won a BE event and I’m pretty pleased with how it went at our first competition,” said Francesca.

Another new addition to a busy weekend at Bishop Burton, which included the college’s horse trials, was the BE100 under-18 northern area final that was to have been held at Hutton-on-the-Forest. The college stepped in to help after the Cumbrian event had to be cancelled due to bad weather.

This new programme was launched by British Eventing last year to give young riders the chance to compete against riders their own age and provide a stepping stone to other levels.

It was won by Sophie Blades, 17, from Newton-upon-Derwent, riding Pretty Game. They finished on a score of 39 after a dressage score of 31went up following eight faults in the show-jumping.

International event rider Ben Hobday was placed in Novice sections with Shadow Boxer and Ramilo and had a first with the seven-year-old Consult Z. He was 10th in the BE 100 section E with Churchtown III.

Wright cashes in after narrow victory over Chinese Olympic eventer

MATTHEW WRIGHT was in the money at the Horse of the Year Show this week after winning the Express Eventing final riding If You Want II.

He took home a prize of £12,500 after an almost unbeatable performance in this series.

“The plan was to take all four qualifiers and the final, but the Festival of British Eventing qualifier just slipped away from me to Sam Griffiths. I’m truly delighted to have won,” he said afterwards.

Some of the best-known names in eventing, including Oliver Townend who won the competition in 2008, took part in the final in front of a crowd of around 4,000.

Alex Hua Tian, the Chinese Olympic eventer, was the runner-up, riding Grafenstolz, finishing just 0.30 of a penalty behind Wright, with Harry Meade in third place. Fiona Hobby was fourth, Sam Griffiths fifth and Townend was sixth.

The 16 finalists had competed in four qualifiers in different parts of the country. The format consisted of three arena-based sections including freestyle dressage to music, cross-country and show-jumping.

AFTER the excitement of the Horse of the Year Show this week, there’s a chance for the less experienced, as well as experienced riders, to compete in a number of equine classes which are a popular part of this month’s Countryside Live.

The classes are open to all and are an opportunity for those who are just starting out to experience competing under lights and in front of an audience. This year for the first time there will be qualifiers for the Olympia Heritage Mountain and Moorland classes. These will give competitors their last chance of qualifying before Olympia in December.

Entries for the various classes can be made up until October 14.

Young riders from the age of 10 will also get their chance in the spotlight in the Search for a Talented Young Show Jumper competition. They will be given instruction by Graham and Tina Fletcher before riding in the indoor arena. The winner will enjoy a visit to the Fletchers.

Countryside Live is on October 22 and 23 at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate.