Nicolas Pips Jung to the Post at Pau

FRA-Astier Nicolas (PIAF DE B'NEVILLE) INTERIM-4TH: CCI4* CROSS COUNTRY: 2015 FRA-Les Etoiles de Pau (Saturday 24 October) CREDIT: Libby Law COPYRIGHT: LIBBY LAW PHOTOGRAPHYTopSpec sponsored event rider, Astier Nicolas picked the perfect venue to win his first four star when he claimed the CCI **** on home ground at Pau International Horse Trials.

Riding the talented 12-year-old, Piaf de B’neville, Astier produced an immaculate clear round in the influential show jumping phase to put the pressure on the two riders above him. 

World and European number one, Michael Jung was unfortunate to knock fence three down which ultimately cost him the win by just 0.9 of a penalty.

With two more to jump after him, Astier confessed that he did not feel any pressure saying, “I wasn’t nervous at all because I had two great riders ahead and certainly didn’t think I could win.”

However, much to the delight of the home crowd, the 26-year-old stole the show and produced the first French win at Les 4 Etoiles de Pau since Nicolas Touzaint’s victory in 2007.

Piaf de B’neville has been a successful campaigner for Astier. The combination won the CCI*** at Bramham in 2012 and was a member of the French team at the 2013 FEI European Eventing Championships in Malmo, Sweden. The Selle Francais gelding by Cap de B’neville looked and performed beautifully throughout the competition at Pau.

“It’s fantastic to win my first CCI 4* and to do it in France makes it even more special,” said Astier who is fittingly from Pau.




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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Charlotte Agnew

charlotte agnew & out of africa two. cic3star sec J. photo by manor prCharlotte Agnew’s eventing career is continuing to blossom and it has been helped significantly by one very special homebred horse, Out of Africa. By Welton Apollo and out of her father’s hunter, Africa, ‘Zulu’ as she is affectionately known was initially hunted and hacked out by the Agnew family. Charlotte recalls “he was an absolute saint even as a four-year-old.”

Charlotte celebrated winning their first Pre Novice on her 18th birthday, 10 years ago. By 2007 they had moved up to two star and claimed second place in the Young Riders at Weston Park.  The partnership has since completed Badminton twice and Zulu has exceeded all expectations.

Here we talk to the TopSpec sponsored rider and unveil 10 things you may not know about this talented event rider.

1) Charlotte and Zulu were fifth at their first four star at Luhmulen in 2012.

2) Zulu used to get distracted by the big crowds but he has learnt how to concentrate better as he has got more experience.

3) White Heather Eventing is Charlotte’s small syndicate business which owns three very talented horses for Charlotte to ride.

4) Charlotte’s mother, Livy, continues to run a small breeding enterprise at the Scottish family home at Hendersyde Park near Kelso, home to the Scottish and Northern Novice Championships.

5) Tanganyika, bred by Charlotte’s mother was awarded an Elite premium as a foal at the 2011 Scottish Futurity.

6) Charlotte horses are fed on a feed regime developed by her sponsor TopSpec, well known for their range of feed balancers and other innovative horse feeds.

7) I am a previous winner of the TopSpec scholarship and completed my first Badminton Horse Trials aged 20 with Little Beau.

8) Charlotte moved from the family base in Scotland to England five years ago to establish stronger connections and be more centrally based.

9) In December Charlotte moves to an exciting new base near Chipping Campden.

10) If Charlotte didn’t event then she would like to be a rally driver.

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Winter Feed Plan for Horses

When formulating a winter feeding plan it is sensible to make sure we are feeding cost-effectively. The best value feed for horses is grass. Luckily the majority of horses and ponies can have a diet based on grass in the summer, and on hay or haylage in the winter or when stabled. When a horse is stabled sufficient hay/haylage should be fed to satisfy his appetite and keep him occupied; that is ad-lib.

Feeding ad-lib means feeding the amount that results in just a bird’s nest of forage left when you next offer a fresh supply. To make the most of the forage that a horse eats it is important that he digests it efficiently. Efficient digestion means that a horse utilises as many nutrients as possible from his forage which reduces the amount of hard feed he will need to meet his requirements for maintenance, work and condition. This means we can feed him an improved forage to concentrate ratio.

l How do we improve the forage to concentrate ratio?

The first step to take when trying to improve a horse’s forage to concentrate ratio is to feed a top specification feed balancer e.g. TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer. TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer contains concentrated amounts of nutrients and yeast products in a small amount of feed; this reduces the weight of concentrates that need to be fed in three ways: –

1) The micronutrients (amino-acids, minerals and vitamins)

in TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer balance the forage and straights in a ration, improving their utilisation and thus reducing the requirement for extra hard feed.

2) The yeast products in TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer improve the digestibility of fibre in the hindgut, allowing the horse to gain more nutritional benefit from the forage part of the diet.

3) Because TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer is so nutrient dense you are feeding less

concentrate, making room in the horse’s digestive system for more forage, thus improving the forage to concentrate ratio

For help formulating a winter feeding plan for your horse call our multiple-award-winning helpline on 01845 565 030 or go to

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What are Gastric Ulcers

Gastric ulcers are lesions on the inside of the horse stomach wall, often where gastric acid has eroded the epithelial lining, resulting in ulcer formation. Ulcers occur mainly in the upper non-glandular, and therefore unprotected, area of the stomach, especially around the Margo plicatus (the area between the upper and lower stomach) and the exit to the duodenum, but they also occur in the lower glandular region. Vets use a grading system from 1-4 to describe the severity of ulcers, with 1 being the least severe and 4 the most.

How are ulcers diagnosed?

They are best diagnosed by a vet using an endoscope, which is a long tube with a camera on the end which is passed through the nose gently down to the stomach.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of gastric ulcers can be vague which is why it is so helpful to use an endoscope to see whether they are present and how severe they are. A horse may go off his feed and generally look unthrifty with a poor coat. Colic may occur when severe ulceration is present. A grumpy attitude and various types of stereotypical behaviour, notably crib-biting and/or windsucking and poor performance are often noted. More specific symptoms include ‘grunting’ when girthed-up or stretching out over a jump; and teeth grinding.

For help and advice on feeding horses with gastric ulcers call our multiple-award-winning helpline on 01845 565 030 or go to

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Record Number of Wins at Horse of the Year Show

Vantage Point, Champion Hunter of the Year, ridden by Robert Walker and owned by Jill DayOnce again this year saw a huge number of wins for TopSpec fed horses and ponies at the prestigious Horse of the Year Show.

It was a hugely successful show for Robert Walker; Vantage Point, owned by Jill Day, won the Lightweight Hunter of the Year before being crowned Champion Hunter of the Year, whilst Rockefeller owned by Joanne Singfield headed the line up in the Heavyweight Hunter of the Year.

It was an emotional sight when Robert and Starry Night, owned by Camilla Neame, took the Maxi Cob of the Year before Robert dismounted to mark the retirement of this uniquely successful cob.

Victoria Hesford also had a fantastic show with Whalton Forgery, owned by Clare Twiston-Davies, claiming the Champion Hack of the Year, and Randalstown Musketeer, owned by Clare Twiston-Davies, securing the Champion Cob of the Year award. Victoria also produced the Ridden (Welsh D) of the Year, Ringside Game Over.

Rotherwood Rainmaker, owned by Katy Carter and Marge Cartlidge, and ridden by Poppy Carter ended their partnership on a high with a win for the Katy Carter Show Team in the 128cm Children’s Riding Pony of the Year. Ellis Taverner-Burns and Scalacre Eclipse, also owned by Katy and her mum Marge, headed the 133cm Show Hunter Pony.

Llanarth Fair Play, owned by Elizabeth Edwards and produced by Katy Carter, was crowned Champion Intermediate Show Riding Type of the Year ridden by Kayleigh Catton.

Clare Curry and Noble Star, owned by Adrian Curry, took the Intermediate Show Hunter of the Year, whilst Cate Kerr and Cadlanvalley Super Ted, owned by Lisa Kerr and produced by Craig Elenor, won the Lead Rein Show Hunter Pony of the Year.

HOYS winners

Sadhbh O’Connor and Valentine Dignity, owned by Aoife O’Connor and produced by Rachael Helliwell, stood Champion Show Hunter Pony.

Laura’s Pride secured top section marks and a win in the Intermediate WHP of the Year, ridden and owned by Victoria Leavesley, whilst Shirley Dennison’s Rotherwood Another Peep headed the 148cm Children’s Riding Pony of the Year, ridden by Harriet Dennison.

The Part Bred Ridden of the Year title went to Myles Cooper and Moluccas Bengal Beauty, owned by Mike Cooper and produced by Stanley Grange Show Team.

Sue-Helen Shuttleworth and Flying Solo headed the line up in the Coloured Ridden Non-Native Pony of the Year, whilst her ride Boston also secured the top spot in the Coloured Ridden Native Cob, Traditional Pony of the Year.

In the M&M sections Townend Schubert ridden and owned by Becky Penny won the M&M Ridden (Fell/Dales) of the Year, whilst Alex Williams and Ringside Game Over, owned by Christine Williams and produced by Victoria Hesford, took the M&M Ridden (Welsh D) of the Year.

The M&M Ridden (Sec B) of the Year went to Katy Marriott-Payne and Cadlanvalley Sandpiper, owned by Mr A J Anderson and Mrs K E Scott.

Doylan Chilli Pepper, ridden by Mollie Mae Jeffrey and owned by Mrs Carol Barker won the 122cm M&M WHP of the Year, before Stephanie Wheway’s Peasedown Mr Muddle took the 143cm M&M WHP of the Year.

Ardbear Spirit, ridden by Jo Callwood and owned by Barbara Bagshaw triumphed in the M&M WHP of the Year exceeding 143cm.

Over in the showjumping arena, Robert Murphy took the honours in the Leading Pony Showjumper of the Year with Rainbows Mocha, owned by Julie Adam – a title that his father, Peter, won exactly 30 years earlier.

What a wonderful show!

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Ten Top Training Tips from Kitty King

Persimmon 4th Individually and Team Silver at the European Eventing Championships at Blair, ridden by Kitty King and owned by Frank and Jane InnsBEST Brit at this year’s European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle in Scotland when finishing individual fourth and also claiming a Team Silver medal, Team TopSpec rider Kitty King has been in great form.

Here we talk to Kitty about her training techniques and the behind the scenes preparation which contributes to her success. She gives advice with her top ten training tips.

1.) Kitty’s training is based upon the Scales of Training which originated in Germany. “Think of a pyramid with rhythm at the bottom, building up to suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness and finally collection.” This in theory should create a horse which is completely responsive and willingly accepts the rider’s aids.

2.) The key to a good way of going is achieving the basics, “you need to master spring, suppleness and contact.”

3.) Lots of leg yielding and then half pass are used in Kitty’s training to get the horse supple all over his body and easily moving away from the leg.

4.) Always have a plan before you get on any horse. “I have a goal for each session and will only go to a competition knowing I’m fully prepared.”

5.) Get a course of show jumps out on the grass as soon as possible, “I try to get a course out in one of the fields by February so the horses start jumping on grass again and get used to what they’ll face at a competition.”

6.) Pay attention to your own fitness, “It’s no good having a really fit horse if the jockey can’t ride it to its maximum potential. I work on variations of the plank for core strength and shoulder exercises because mine are naturally rounded.”

7.) Make sure you pay attention to detail, “If making changes results in even 1% improvement then it’s worth it.”

8.) Work on grid and pole work over the winter to help develop jumping technique.

9.) It’s important to give the horse a really good experience at a competition, “I don’t go to competitions to train, but to give the horse the best possible experience, regardless of the level it is competing at.”

10.) Finally, work hard, train hard and never give up on your dreams.

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Jayne Turney and Cruz lll Victorious in the TopSpec Medium Restricted at National Dressage Championships

Jayne TurneyCharlotte Dujardin’s stunning six-year-old pony, Cruz III stormed to victory in the TopSpec Medium Restricted at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships ridden by Jayne Turney (33).

This future superstar pony performed an impressive test to score 72.22%, fending off competition from his larger rivals, whilst Charlotte watched on from the ringside. Jayne, from Gawcott in Buckinghamshire and the diminutive power house, Cruz III claimed the competition by over two percent, much to her delight. Jayne beamed: “This is a dream come true for me, I really cannot believe it!”

Cruz has a 100% hit rate at these championships having won the Novice Open last year when ridden by Phoebe Peters.

Jayne was offered ‘Tom’ as a project by his owner and Jayne’s long-time friend, Charlotte and has carefully produced him ever since. “I got a phone call out of the blue from Charlotte saying ‘I’ve got a challenge for you’ and would I be interested,” explained Jayne. “And he’s been an amazing project – he’s brilliant! He’s hot, wants to do the job, is confident and brave, and is very bright – you can almost see his brain working!”

Tom, a flashy chestnut by former British team pony, Caesar 171, is stabled on Jo Jenkin’s yard just outside Buckingham. Jo plays an invaluable part in Jayne’s support team, along with Charlotte and Ian Cast. Jayne’s friendship with the pair began when they worked for Judy Harvey – ‘before they were famous!’ They are still very much a strong team. “Ian helps me a lot and is always on the end of the phone, and I train with Charlotte whenever I can,” Jayne said.

Like all good riders, Jayne is her own biggest critic and was quick to pick up on areas for further improvement: “I do get nervous and I do have high expectations of myself, but I’m learning to use that in a positive way,” she said.

In second place was Lewis Carrier and Diego V who put in a competitive performance to receive just a whisker below the 70% barrier, with 69.92%.

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Charlotte and Freestyle Claim the TopSpec Medium Open for Mount St John

Charlotte DujardinSuccess for the Mount St John Stud continued on the third day of competition at the Le Mieux National Championships when Charlotte Dujardin masterfully guided Mount St John Freestyle to an emphatic win in the TopSpec Medium Open.

This relatively new pairing have undoubtedly formed a fantastic partnership and produced a faultless and hugely impressive test which was justly rewarded with a brilliant score of 77.86%.

Charlotte was delighted with the result, commenting: “I was really happy with my performance today. Freestyle is a new ride for me, I’ve had her from the beginning of the year and this is only her fourth Medium test ever. I was happy with the whole test from start to finish!” said a delighted Charlotte.

The combination has been unbeaten since the beginning of their competitive career together at the start of the year. They qualified for the National Championships at Keysoe summer regionals in August with a score of 75.77%, giving them a convincing victory.

Mount St John Freestyle is a six-year-old Fidermark-sired mare with a ‘fantastic temperament’.  Despite finding the atmosphere rather electric whilst schooling the previous day, Freestyle showed her professionalism when it mattered. Charlotte said: “Yesterday she was a little bit hot and then today she was like a pro nothing fazed her. She’s never been in this type of atmosphere but she’s not a spooky horse. I’m really lucky in that sense, if anything, it just makes her lift and get a bit more excited. She’s a really easy horse and a real pleasure to ride.”

In the TopSpec Medium Open National Championship, world number one pony combination Phoebe Peters and SL Lucci were hot on Charlotte’s heals with a fabulous performance to give them 75.86%, more than four percent over third placed Laura Newton and Zebrano. This was a hugely emotional performance for Phoebe as it was her last ever test with the outstanding SL Lucci, as the pony is now for sale. A huge support team turned out to watch this pair and although emotions were running high before the test, Phoebe regained her composure to produce yet another flawless performance and round off her competitive career with Lucci in fine style.

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Minstrel is on Top Form with TopSpec

Anna Chadfield 1st grade 3 at RDA Championships riding_MinstrelGrade III Para Dressage rider, Anna Chadfield and her lovely coloured horse Minstrel have been enjoying great success recently.

At the recent RDA National Championships at Hartpury College, Anna and Minstrel were placed second in the junior section of the grade III class with 63%. In the freestyle they were the best juniors with 68% and to top it off went on to be overall class champion.

A delighted Anna said: “Minstrel was an absolute star; taking it all in his stride and loving all the extra attention. I couldn’t have asked for more of him especially as this is our first major competition.”

Anna is thrilled with the results she has seen since feeding TopSpec and commented: “Minstrel has done very well on TopSpec and it has helped keep him in the best condition possible, especially as he can lose weight very quickly when living in.”

It was a weekend that Anna will never forget and she commented: “I’d like to thank TopSpec for helping us achieve it.”

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Noah Sails to Victory in the New TopSpec Challenge for the Corinthian Cup

Noah Brook riding Deo VolenteIII winner of the Corinthian Cup

Nineteen-year-old Noah Brook became the inaugural – and runaway – winner of The TopSpec Challenge for The Corinthian Cup at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park.

Riding Deo Volente III, a seven-year-old owned by Paul Crompton he stormed to victory around the undulating park land.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself this morning before the show jumping as I was in the lead after the dressage at Chatsworth CIC1* earlier in the year and had two fences down,” said the Huddersfield-based rider, who ironically could have afforded two rolled poles on this occasion, such was his winning margin (of more than 10 penalties).

Noah has just set up on his own having previously worked for showjumper Andrew Saywell and spent two years under the tutelage of renowned trainer and producer Judy Bradwell. He took on Deo Volente III at the end of last season from the horse’s previous rider Piggy French.

“His owners weren’t sure how far he’d go initially, but he keeps getting better and better,” said Noah. “I’m very grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to ride him.”

Runner-up Sarah Chittleburgh partnered possibly the smallest horse ever to gallop across Gatcombe’s hallowed turf. Her mare Sari De Lobelle stands at just 14.1hh, but that didn’t stop her producing a fast, faultless double clear.

“I bought Sari four years ago as a five-year-old thinking that I’d quietly produce her for the pony market while enjoying competing her myself,” explained Sara, 25, who works as an equine osteopath and massage therapist. “She’s got so much scope; she’ll happily go on to intermediate level.”

Of the new National Restricted Novice Championship, Sara added: “To ride alongside the best in the world and feel included – and be part of – the main competition has been such a fantastic experience.”

Cathrine Taylor followed her third place in the BE100 Badminton Grassroots Championship with a third place here aboard Lynn Ferguson’s 12-year-old mare, Lorelei.

“She’s such a fun horse to be around and never has a bad day,” said Cathrine, who is based at Somerford Park Farm in Cheshire.

Captain Mark Phillips’ new cross country course caused relatively few problems among the 63 cross country starters – there were 46 clear rounds but the combination of Gatcombe’s undulating terrain and unique atmosphere ensured there were still a few thrills and spills, especially at the water.

“The TopSpec Challenge for The Corinthian Cup has been a fantastic competition and one that we are very proud to sponsor,” said Nicola Tyler of TopSpec. “It has been great to watch amateur riders take the stage alongside the seasoned pros and I look forward to seeing some of them returning to The Festival of British Eventing next year.”

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