Horse racing: Grand National hero Neptune starts dressage career in style

Neptune Collonges – heroic winner of the 2012 Grand National – has made a winning dressage debut.

The popular grey, who is now 11 years old, was retired on a high after his Aintree success and is now dazzling in a different arena.

The former Paul Nicholls-trained star is still owned by John Hales and is now ridden by his daughter Lisa, who partnered the Liverpool hero to a Saturday dressage triumph.

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The duo triumphed in the Intro A test at Kingswood EC in Albrighton with 79.57 per cent.

Neptune Collonges’s success also marked a dream weekend for owner Hales whose Al Ferof also won the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Champion trainer Nicholls tweeted on Saturday: “Just an update. Neptune Collonges won his Dressage class today. Well done Lisa Hales. Life in the old boy yet.”

Meanwhile, British Dressage will be running two FEI Pony Team Test Training Sessions next year – both at Solihull Riding Club.

Held on January 5 and 6, as well as February 2 and 3, the sessions are open to all pony riders hoping to compete at FEI pony level at Premier League shows in 2013.

There will be International Judges present to judge these tests and the cost of the sessions will be £70 per day or £140 per weekend with places depending on availability.

Scores from these sessions will be monitored by the selectors and can be used towards eligibility for international competition selection.

Riders will need to achieve a minimum 68 per cent, as per the 2013 Selection Policy to be considered for international selection.

The 2013 Selection Policy is currently being drawn up and will be published on the British Dressage website as soon as it is finalised.

Hickstead is also considering adding a leg of the new FEI Nations Cup dressage series to its 2013 international show from August 1.

The new series — where riders compete as national teams — was announced last week at the FEI General Assembly.

Confirmed dates so far include a three-star competition at Vidauban, France taking place between May 17 and May 20 as well as another three-star competition at Rotterdam between June 20 and June 24.

Also confirmed is a five-star event at Aachen from July 3 to July 8.

n Looking further ahead, this week saw tickets go on sale for next year’s Horse of the Year Show which in 2013 will celebrate its 65th anniversary.

Returning to the LG Arena at Birmingham’s NEC from Wednesday, October 9 until Sunday, October 13, Horse of the Year Show 2013 will host the much-anticipated finals of the highly regarded national showing and show jumping championships.

There will also be top-class international show jumping and extra entertainment, including two very special displays to be announced soon.

Ticket prices start from £28 with concession rates available, as well as discounts for group bookings.

Featuring the ever-popular Puissance competition, Saturday evening’s performance sold out in record time this year.

Tickets are available to book via and through the Box Office on 0844 581 8282.

Anybody interested in hospitality or season tickets and wishing to speak to someone about HOYS should call 01582 711 411.

n Donnersong, the British international grand prix dressage stallion who enjoyed a glittering career with Carl Hester, has been put to sleep at the age of 22.

The son of Donnerhall had been ridden by his owner-breeder Kate Carter in recent years having been retired to stud in 2003.

n A limited number of tickets are still available for tonight’s clinic being run by Olympians Richard Davison and Alex Hua Tian at Bishop Burton College, near Beverley.

Dressage star Davison has competed in four Olympic games including London 2012, where he scored 72.812 per cent in the grand prix on Hiscox Artemis.

Eventing ace Hua Tian, meanwhile, has become something of a golden boy as the only Chinese rider competing internationally.

He was the youngest Olympic event rider, competing at Beijing in 2008 at the tender age of just 18.

Tickets are £25 on the door, subject to availability.

Timings for the evening are 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

* For further information call 01964 553087 or visit www.bishop