An Unexpected Freestyle Competition Results in High Scores at Hickstead for Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar

Friday, July 31, 2015
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Top-scoring American rider Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar took on prestigious competition in the Hickstead CDIO 3* at the Nations Cup Grand Prix (Photo courtesy of Risto Aaltonen)Hickstead, West Sussex, UK— When top-scoring American dressage rider Katherine Bateson-Chandler returned to her native United Kingdom this summer, she was ready to take on international competition with her partner Alcazar— a ten-year-old KWPN gelding (Cantango X Polin, Ferro) owned by Jane Forbes Clark. Having just stepped Alcazar up to the international level at the 2015 Adequan Global Dressage Festival earlier this year (where the pair enjoyed a spectacular Grand Prix winning streak), Bateson-Chandler brought him to Europe for the summer with the intention of giving him more international exposure. The pair recently competed at the Dressage at Hickstead CDIO 3*, where they demonstrated impressive teamwork and showed that Alcazar is quickly gaining confidence in the international arena.

Recently Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar took on prestigious competition in the Hickstead CDIO 3* in the CDIO Nations Cup Grand Prix, placing in the top ten with a score of 67.520 percent. This qualified them to compete in the CDIO Grand Prix Freestyle.

“We ended up competing our new freestyle at Hickstead, which was a surprise,” laughed Batseon-Chandler. “I had planned on doing the Grand Prix special, but the format at Hickstead was different, and I ended up qualifying to do the freestyle instead after my Grand Prix result. In a panic, I had a friend grab my envelopes with my new music, which I hadn't even opened yet! I hadn't even listened to the new music or gone over the choreography because I had thought I had lots of time to work on it.”

The internationally successful rider and trainer said that she was nervous about how Lonzie — as he is known around the barn — would handle the freestyle, especially after their experience at the 2015 CDI Windsor. “Our last freestyle, which was a hand-me-down, and was Lonzie’s first attempt, had made him a bit terrified as the speakers had been way too loud,” she explained. “I was a bit unnerved by that experience, as was he!”

But Lonzie handled the unexpected routine with the maturity of a much more experienced mount, and the pair rounded off a solid performance, resulting in an impressive score of 71.350 percent. “I have to say he handled Hickstead better than I ever expected, and I was so very proud of my boy!” said Bateson-Chandler. “He showed himself off so well and trusted me.”

Born in the U.K., Bateson-Chandler moved to the U.S. in 1986 to be Robert Dover’s groom and assistant trainer. She began riding Alcazarin 2012 when Jane Forbes Clark purchased the horse. In 2014, Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar received the esteemed Adequan/USDF Dressage Horse of the Year Award for the Intermediate II level with their year’s mean score of 71.941 percent.

“He is a horse with a fantastic hind leg in all his work,” said Bateson-Chandler of Alcazar. “He has no real weakness, and his piaffe and passage are very special. He hasn't quite been able to show it off to the full extent in the arena, but when he does, look out!”

Next up for this dynamic duo are more competitions in Europe, where they are currently training with Olympian Carl Hester. Bateson-Chandler shared that she has applied for the CDI Perl at Gestüt Peterhof, Germany (September 9-13) and the CDI Saumur, France (September 24-27), and she may show Alcazar at one of these if qualified.

Bateson-Chandler owns KBC Dressage in Wellington, where she offers exceptional training, coaching, lessons, and clinics for horses and riders from the United States and Europe. She also offers scouting and prospect selection for clients seeking exceptional horses. Her experience at the international Grand Prix level offers riders a competitive edge— whether through coaching as an eye on the ground, bringing young horses up the levels, or campaigning seasoned FEI competitors. Learn more at www.kbcdressage.com.