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2017 press releases

Posted: 20/04/17


Mathew Baker, 24, from Waterlooville, Hampshire has won the Petplan Equine Novice Silver Championship at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships on The Merry Minstrel. After qualification in Autumn 2016 the pair spent the winter preparing for this prestigious event held at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire from 12 - 16 April 2017.

The Merry Minstrel, known as Tank, is a 17.2hh, 8 year-old gelding sired by Vechta, owned and ridden by Mathew Baker. The partnership won through two tough rounds to take the title, scoring a solid 68.39% in the first round, to secure a place in the next round. ‘Tank’ then upped his game in front of the judges and the duo posted a score of 73.1% to claim the victory.

Eventer turned dressage rider Mathew Baker said, “He was a little on edge at first but then became really relaxed and rideable and did a really good test. I’ve had a lot of great training from Roland, so I felt like we really came prepared today”. Mathew met Tank when he came to the yard to be sold, but he fell in love so bought the gelding for himself. “He was a little quirky to start with but just got more confident the more we did. He can go to the top; he’s a good horse that finds everything so easy.” Mathew’s next focus with Tank is towards the Elementary and aiming for the Petplan Equine Area Festivals later this year.”

Petplan Equine, one of the UK’s specialist horse insurance providers, has sponsored the Area Festivals for 18 years and is looking to the future with an even bigger competition for 2017/18. 27 Area Festivals will take place from which qualification for eight Area Festival Finals can be achieved. The top horse and rider combinations from the Finals will then go on to compete in the Area Festival Championships at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire in April 2018. In addition there will be a dedicated competition for under-18 riders.

“Working with British Dressage to develop the new look Petplan Equine Area Festivals for 2017/18 has been very exciting,” commented Kate Hopkins, Marketing Executive at Petplan Equine. “The Area Festivals have been a huge success and we want as many riders as possible to experience the thrill of competing in championship-style conditions, so we are encouraging all grassroots riders to aim for the stars! We would especially like to congratulate Mathew and The Merry Minstrel on their fantastic win and wish her the very best of luck for the future.”

British Dressage’s Chief Executive Jason Brautigam said: “I am so impressed with the level of participation in the Petplan Equine Area Festivals series. This amounts to an astounding almost 50% of all British Dressage members qualifying to take part in the series, which is something to be applauded. Next season will herald a new chapter for this dressage favourite. The new format is the result of a great deal of planning and member consultation to arrive at a series within reach for so many more riders.”

Further information about the Petplan Equine Area Festivals and how to qualify for next year’s finals is available from the Petplan Equine website at:


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Petplan Equine offers comprehensive insurance cover for horses and ponies aged from 30 days old. Established over 25 years ago, Petplan Equine understands the evolving equestrian market and strives to enhance knowledge and understanding of the equine world through employing horse enthusiasts and working closely with the equine industry.

Petplan Equine is part of the Petplan brand. Founded in 1976, Petplan is the UK's largest pet insurance provider, offering comprehensive cover for dogs, cats, rabbits and horses.

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