HOYS victory for Becky and Jagerbomb
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Becky Moody and Jagerbomb impressed the judges and enthralled the NEC crowd with a magical winning performance in the Bret Willson Dressage Future Elite Championships at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham (05 – 09 October 2022).
With her own Jagerbomb (Dante Weltino x Jazz), Becky Moody posted an outstanding 84.833% to seal the coveted HOYS victory. The duo, fresh from their domination of the Small Tour classes at last month’s LeMieux National Championships, lit up the Andrews Bowen International Arena with a stunningly executed floorplan to their crowd-pleasing Tom Jones compilation.
The competition for up-and-coming horses (aged eight to ten years old at the time of qualifying), now in its ninth year, provides a unique opportunity to expose young horses to the big stage, as well as acting as a shop window for our sport at an event which is famed for show jumping and showing. This is an invitational class, based on rankings from High Profile, Premier League and CDI shows on average percentage in Small Tour classes. The top ranked combinations are then invited to take part in this Intermediate I Freestyle competition under the lights of the NEC.
Seven competitors came forward last night under a top judging panel of FEI 5* trio, Andrew Gardner (H), Peter Storr (C) and Stephen Clarke (M), who afterwards took it in turn to sum up each performance.
Pathfinder on the stage of the Andrews Bowen Arena was Ellie McCarthy and Brave Heart (Bordeaux x Tuschinski), who she co-owns with her parents Spencer and Bridget McCarthy. The duo, who will shortly be travelling to France to compete at Le Mans CDI, got the evening off to a super start scoring 71.50%. Riding to a Queen, Status Quo and Tina Turner compilation, the talented and beautiful bay gelding displayed lovely balance and elasticity, and great maturity for his eight years of age, but had a couple of costly mistakes.
“It was a very nice start,” commented Andrew Gardner. “It was a positive test. We saw a lovely horse with a very elastic and rhythmical trot, and a very nice canter. We saw some highlights, the horse has talent in the changes – they're very expressive, and also a very nice technique in the pirouettes, but unfortunately broke in the second one coming out, which is expensive, but I think all in all a very nice start.”
Five-time team rider at FEI Youth European Championships, Olivia Oakeley followed with her Rock Forever-sired nine-year-old mare, Rock Diva. A well-presented test to a wonderful Les Miserables collection showed lovely work with super changes, but a couple of costly blips during their performance kept the score in check. Showing much potential for the future, they scored 70.417%.
“I thought the music was really great, and she (Olivia) interpreted everything really well,” said the judge at M, Stephen Clarke. “It was interesting choreography too and she really tried to show a high degree of difficulty, but unfortunately it didn’t just quite work because the pirouettes sort of failed at the end. But the risk was there, and she tried to show what we wanted to see. On the whole it was really brave, really nice test to watch.”
Next up was Sheffield-based international rider Hannah Esberger-Hancock and Iggy Pop BEK, a nine-year-old Dream Boy x Gabor gelding who she co-owns with her father, Robert Esberger. Riding to a crowd-pleasing Billie Eilish, Ed Sheeran and Tones and I arrangement, the duo set the bar at 73.083% for a performance showing lovely expression and musicality.
“It was great music - I really enjoyed the music – it was modern and upbeat, and I think Hannah will be pleased with that test,” commented Peter Storr. “We’ve seen some lovely horses so far, all the horses have been really nice horses, and I should imagine with Hannah’s horse this would be his first time in an arena like this so I’m sure she’s thrilled with him.”
Sarah Higgins, who has represented GBR from Ponies to Grand Prix, followed, with Sarah Rao’s nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Samuel. Competing at international Small Tour this year, and with fourth place in the Prix St Georges Freestyle at the LeMieux National Championships, the partnership has enjoyed good recent form. Here, they asserted themselves into the provisional lead with a fantastic score of 76.417%. Set to powerful music, a bold canter tour and equally powerful changes attracted high marks. The trot too was expressive and rhythmic with much scope.
“For me, there’s clearly a point in the test when my marks went to a higher level, and that was with the canter programme,” said Andrew Gardner. “We saw in the canter real power, uphill impression and a very clear rhythm, and of course that reflected in the quality of the changes and in the pirouettes... he is a very talented horse.”
Angus Corrie-Deane and Jack Johnson, a nine-year-old Johnson x Scandic gelding, delivered an accomplished round. The 22-year-old from Wiltshire and his scopey bay gelding delivered an expressive test riding to a selection of music from powerful film scores including Saving Private Ryan, Backdraft and Spider-Man to score 74.542% for eventual fourth place on the leader board.
“We’re seeing great horses, and so far getting great scores, which is wonderful,” said Stephen Clarke “Sarah Higgins’ score was high because she had really huge impulsion and also took some risks, but the last rider (Angus) also did a lovely test with lots of difficulties and a really interesting ground pattern – it was very good."
The penultimate partnership was Alice Oppenheimer with Amanda Radford’s ‘pocket rocket’ Headmore Dionysus (Dimaggio x Rubinstein). The small but mighty liver chestnut gelding is another to have enjoyed success this year with Premier League wins and a fantastic fourth place in the Inter I Freestyle at the Nationals a few short weeks ago, as well as making a successful step to Inter II.
In front of the big NEC crowd, they pulled out all the stops. A performance full of energy and athleticism, set to music from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cats’, was awarded 77.417% to propel them into the provisional lead.
“It was really good music – very professionally produced,” commented Peter Storr. “And she rode well to the music. We’ve had some really high-scoring horses and lovely combinations.”
The final combination of the night was Becky Moody with her homebred superstar Jagerbomb (Dante Weltino x Jazz). As well as his domination of the Small Tour classes at the Nationals, he placed second at last month’s inaugural NEXONE Final for up-and-coming Grand Prix horses. As consistent as the day is long, once again he performed with all the aplomb of a future star.
Starting in canter, straight into a pirouette left then directly into two-time changes, it was obvious that Becky was not holding back on the technical difficulty. Riding to their Tom Jones compilation, the performance was impressive from the off - bold, confident, well-executed and displayed great partnership, to earn the winning score of 84.833%.
“Well congratulations to Becky I’d say,” said Andrew Gardner. “What was interesting with this test was the linkages of some of the very difficult elements. We talk about degree of difficulty, and what sort of movements reflect in those, but here we saw repeated pirouettes, repeated changes, and the way they were all brought together, and also every moment of the test was put to good use so it was a really super job.”
“He is just the horse that keeps on giving," enthused Becky, "And it's extra special because I bred him, so we've done everything together. He is getting better and better, and I am super-excited. He really shows a talent for the Grand Prix work.
“I’ve just been away on holiday in Cornwall for five days, and I rode him for the first time yesterday, so we came here with a very chilled out laid-back approach. But that's the kind of horse he is. He just pulls it out of the bag, he's a champ.”
Inspired by her success in Birmingham, it will be an important stepping-stone in terms of moving Jagerbomb up to Grand Prix. “The thing now is that he has to go to the next level. I now have to get him consolidated at Grand Prix,” continued Becky. “Next year, he will go Grand Prix, and it is about rolling with it when you get one like this and seeing how far you can go."
1. Becky Moody and Jagerbomb, 84.833%
2. Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus, 77.417%
3. Sarah Higgins and Samuel, 76.417%
4. Angus Corrie-Deane and Jack Johnson, 74.542%
5. Hannah Esberger-Hancock and Iggy Pop BEK, 73.083%
6. Ellie McCarthy and Brave Heart, 71.500%
7. Olivia Oakeley and Rock Diva, 70.417%
Photo © 1st Class Images