Nicky and Rocco book national spot at the double in Ayrshire

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Stonehaven paramedic Nicky Heale won two titles at the Winter Regional Championships in Ayrshire and secured her place at the National Winter Dressage Championships.

Nicky, riding the Derwen Gentleman sired Welsh section D gelding Retanach Request, travelled back home with the Spillers Medium Freestyle Silver, on which she scored 70.61%, and the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver, after scoring 69.06%.

“This will be the fifth consecutive Winter Championships that Retanach Request, – or ‘Rocco’ – and I have competed at,” Nicky said. “I bought him five years ago and we’ve won many Scottish Championships. We have been double National Native champions the last two years running.

“Freestyle is dressage to music. I chose my own music and like to keep it upbeat and fun. I think the horses actually like it too. Rocco can get quite nervous in his tests so music seems to relax him.”

The Morris Equestrian Centre in Ayrshire played host to the sixth Winter Regional Championships of the season from February 23-25.

The three days of competition showcased high class dressage and thrilling competition as riders fought it out for coveted places at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships at Hartpury in Gloucestershire from April 11-15.

“My fiancé, Nick, is a great support and drives most of the 10-hour drive to Hartpury,” Nicky added. “There will be a few riders from the North East making the trip south and actually Stonehaven is home to some very successful dressage riders, some of which have competing at top level national championships.”

Talented amateurs and Britain’s best will compete side by side over five days of intense competition at Hartpury Arena, one of the UK’s top equestrian venues.

Nicky bought Rocco after she smashed her leg in a fall. “The downside of an injury like that when you’re in my job is you know what’s coming,” said Nicky, part of the Scottish Ambulance Service team working out of Stonehaven.

“After that I decided I needed to be riding something that was a little closer to the ground.

“Request’s only about 14.2hh but he can outwalk a big warmblood – in fact it was his walk that sold him to me.”