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Stratford's Melissa O'Brien-Shawcross lands title at prestigious Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships at Hartpury College

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MELISSA O’Brien-Shawcross admitted she was “kicking herself” after making a few mistakes at the prestigious Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships – but in the end those didn’t matter as she claimed victory in her category after a powerful performance from Rubatino ML.

Melissa O'Brien-Shawcross on Rubatino ML. Photo: Kevin Sparrow
Melissa O'Brien-Shawcross on Rubatino ML. Photo: Kevin Sparrow

The field of talented horse and rider combinations needed to demonstrate their dressage skills when competing for the Petplan Equine Medium Bronze title at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, and it was a serious achievement for the Stratford rider to finish top of the leaderboard.

“He’s 15 now and owned by Denise and Suzanne Clayton,” said O’Brien-Shawcross.

“I started him off in his career – he was destined to be an event horse, but he said ‘no thank-you’ even though his breeding, warmblood cross Thoroughbred, suggests he should be.

"I took the ride back about four years ago and he’s just gone better and better really.”

The combination qualified at the rescheduled Winter Area Festivals, which took place in February, winning their ticket to the prestigious championship held on 13th April.

Rubatino ML, a16.3hh bay stallion, impressed the judges with a powerful performance and achieved a winning score of 69.60 per cent.

“I was really pleased, he tried really hard and let me ride him,” said O’Brien-Shawcross.

"There were a few little mistakes which I was kicking myself about, but now I know they didn’t really matter. I’ve recently had two lessons with Henry Boswell and it’s safe to say he’d done wonders with us.

“He’s very good at getting to know a horse and how to get the best out of horse and rider. I really, really like to win and he knows that too.”

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