NAF Five Star Winter Championships: Day Three
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Under rainy Gloucestershire skies, a further six worthy winners were crowned at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships. The weather may have taken a turn for the worse but this didn’t detract from another day of top class dressage action at Hartpury.
Prestige Italia Novice Silver Winter Championship
Winners: Gareth Bulley & Lorentina, 71.05%
A very grey and wet NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships kicked off on day four in the Petplan Equine Arena with a 23-strong class for the Prestige Italia Novice Silver Championship, which saw Gareth Bulley and Lorentina crowned the first winners of the day.
The torrential rain didn’t take the shine off Gareth and Lorentina’s performance as they scored 71.05% to give the duo their first ever Championship win.
Gareth, who is based in Surrey, said “Very pleased with her today, she was soft and relaxed. This is her first time at a big show and we’ve only done one show since the regional and she’s coped with the atmosphere really well. I rode a safe test and I guess the medium trot could have had more expression.”
Gareth took over riding the 10 year old mare, owned by Hannah Lebon, from Melissa Smith after an accident forced her to take time out of the saddle. Melissa has stayed involved though, working closely with Gareth to produce Lorentina.
The class, judged by John Robinson, Linda Whetstone and Judith Harris, saw the renowned Paralympic gold medallist Sir Lee Pearson and Breezer III finish in second place with 69.82%. Kirstie Clarke scored 69.57% to take third place with Powered By Furst Impression.
Theraplate UK Medium Gold Winter Championship
Winners: Calum Whitworth & Hawtins Barolo, 72.88%
The rain continued to beat down on the morning of day three. Nevertheless, this did not get in the way of Calum Whitworth and Hawtins Barolo, after they claimed victory in the Theraplate UK Medium Gold Championship.
The duo impressed judges Anne Keen, Richard Baldwin and Sharon Butterworth, obtaining a well-deserved score of 72.883%.
Calum, based in Herefordshire, explained, ‘He felt a little tentative in there today and I knew I had to ride quietly but we kept it together. There were moments of tension but no big mistakes.’
Calum continued, ‘We’ve only lightly competed him but he’s working on a number of Grand Prix movements at home. To come here and get him in the atmosphere has been brilliant!’
Hawtins Barolo was described as ‘such a lovely horse and finds it all very easy’. The gorgeous dark bay is owned by Viveka Rathore and was purchased from breeder Judith Davis. Calum, rightly so, has great ambition, with the aim for Viveka to ride for India at the 2022 Asian Games.
Together, Calum and Hawtins Barolo placed a very close second on day one of the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage championships 2020, where they competed in the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold, obtaining an amazing score of 72.9%.
Judy Harvey claimed second place with a great score of with 72.568% with SP Bento, closely followed by third placed Hannah Biggs with Freeman scoring 72.523%.
Superflex Intermediate I Gold Winter Championship
Winners: Danny Morgan & Knoxx's Figaro, 72.5%
A rainy NAF Five Star Arena didn’t stop the riders in the NAF Superflex Intermediate I Gold Championship as they lit up the arena to produce a top notch class of dressage tests, with Dannie Morgan and Knoxx's Figaro taking the top spot.
In his seventh and final test of the Championships, Dannie finished on a high achieving a score of 72.5% with 10 year old Knoxx’s Figaro, owned by Lisa Morgan and David Knoxx, to finish in first place. And not for the first time for this pair, who last year won two national titles at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships and one at the 2018 LeMieux National Dressage Championships.
“I was really pleased with ‘Fig’ today. He felt a little tired after the Prix St Georges yesterday but he went in there and really tried for me. We didn’t really make any mistakes – I’m just so pleased. We’ve not competed since March so we were a little ring rusty yesterday and had a few mistakes, it was good to be able to put that right today. He’s such a talented horse and I’m grateful to Lisa [Morgan] and David [Knox] for the opportunity to ride him.”
The duo have been working on a lot of the Grand Prix movements at home during lockdown. They were going well in the PSG yesterday but some costly mistakes crept in - including breaking out of canter in the pirouette.
Dannie, who has risen up the dressage ranks in recent years, didn’t come from an equestrian background and started riding aged 10 at his local riding school. Having initially competed in eventing, he made the move to dressage in 2016 and, although he is still involved in eventing, the move to focus on dressage has meant that he went into these Championships having achieved 19 Regional Championship titles, seven National Championship wins, been Reserve Champion four times and has been placed within the top five an impressive 20 times at National level.
Following this week of competition he has added another Championship win and three more top five finishes to his impressive tally.
In second place was Nathalie Kayal and DHI Cleverboy scoring 70.61%. An elated Nathalie said, “When I saw Dannie was on the start list I thought thank god there’s someone in between us, I didn’t want to follow him and I was right! If you’d have said three months ago that we’d all be here competing and getting to ride at this show I wouldn’t have believed you, it’s so great to be here.”
Third place in the NAF Superflex Intermediate I Gold class, judged by Peter Storr, Sarah Leitch and Debbie Wardle, went to Emily Harris riding Freya FST, who scored 69.96%.
Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Bronze Area Festival
Winners: Lauren Noble & Heartbreak, 69.98%
The first of the Petplan Equine Area Festivals took place on day three with 15 finalists raring to go, despite the weather conditions, to impress judges Sue McMahon, Andrea Smith, and Kim Ratcliffe.
Lauren Noble hit the top spot with the very special Heartbreak scoring a super 69.987% in the Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Bronze class. Lauren told us, "She was so well behaved, the rain didn’t faze her at all, and she just got on with it.
Lauren, based in North Yorkshire, explained that "riding in the UK anyway and having to ride outdoors, she’s used to it, so she just carried on and it went really well. She really listened to me and I am so pleased with her."
Lauren told us, "I have owned her since she was a four-year-old and she’s my first dressage horse so we have gone up the levels together, I mean what an experience it’s been! She’s gone from being a feisty four-year-old and being very opinionated, to coming into her own and definitely shining!"
Heartbreak won the Advanced Medium Silver class in the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships last year in 2019. Lauren continued, "Since then she has just turned into a different horse. She’s so consistent at shows and I am really excited to see how she carries on. She loves the play-up, loves the drama and she loves showing off!
"She’s not done that many tests at PSG so I would love to carry on and do some Gold at PSG and if there will be any profile shows, I’d love to get her out and see where we go from there!"
The second spot on the podium for the Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Bronze went to Chloe Naylor with Karisma who scored 67.675%, with the final podium place going to Jane Littlejohn with Urban Knight with a score of 67.237%.
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold Championship
Winners: Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Bella Ruby, 76.23%
Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Bella Ruby topped the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold Championship to take home the win in the fifth class of the day with an impressive 76.23%.
In Alice’s second outing of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships, she led by almost 3% in a strong class of 14 which saw the top six riders all finishing above 70%.
“She was so supple and balanced today – her canter was so big I wasn’t sure I was going to stop! I designed the floorplan to play to her strengths and her changes are a real highlight. I love this music and floorplan so much I’m to keep it right up to Grand Prix. I know she doesn’t like the bank in the outdoor arena here so I wanted to bring her for an educational experience but this morning the nerves kicked in a bit. The Headmore team have had a few wins so far this week but not me so the pressure was on! But I just love this horse so much, she’s my princess.”
Alice is a regular on the podium having won numerous National and International competitions throughout her career, with this being the third straight national title she has won with eight-year-old mare Headmore Bella Ruby, owned by Sarah Oppenheimer.
‘Bella’ and Alice made their debut together in the dressage arena in 2017, finishing fourth in the five year old class at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships. In 2018, they were third at the NAF Winter Dressage Championships in the Novice Gold Freestyle, and had their first win in 2019 at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships followed by a second win at that year’s LeMieux National Championships.
Always planning the next generation, Alice says, “We have a beautiful embryo transfer foal this year out of Headmore Bella Ruby and by So Unique, plus her yearling by Franklin.”
Laura Wollen and Woodcroft Francisco came in second with 73.33%, followed closely by Matt Frost and Helga who scored 73.11%.
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver Championship
Winners: Katharine Lewis & Albertho B, 71.44%
Katharine Lewis won the concluding class on day three of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships - the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle – aboard Diana Hayes’ striking Dutch driving horse, Albertho B. The pair was awarded 71.44% from the panel of Caroline Tupling, Kim Ratcliffe and Debbie Wardle.
Katharine and ‘Bert’ are on a roll having already claimed third place in yesterday’s Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver, and today the 15 year old son of Unieko once again looked well and truly up for the challenge, performing to a rock ballad compilation by Gaynor Colbourn.
“He was certainly enthusiastic today!” said Katharine, talking about the gelding who was previously driven competitively by owner Di. “I’ve developed a new technique with my trainer Roland Tong where we ride ‘big forward’ rather than containing him. Yesterday he was really on it and raring to go, today he was forward and more fluent.
“I was so pleased with the overall test and how he carried the energy level. And the music suits him – it’s bold music for a bold horse.”
The expressive gelding has already started to prove himself at the advanced levels winning all four PSGs contested so far. “He had to relearn things and how to use himself in a different way but he’s got his confidence now which is amazing. I knew that the higher level would suit him as it lets him put his big energy into the big movements.”
Katharine is well known for competing horses of Dutch carriage driving heritage and won the Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold here last year with the Friesian stallion Jos K.
Second place went to Tyler Bradshaw with Gijsbert (70.61%) whilst yesterday’s Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver Champions, Georgia Davis and Keystone Diego, took third (70.44%).