NAF Five Star Winter Championships: Day Two
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The weather gods were once again in our favour for day two of the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships with sunny skies for nearly all of the ten hours of dressage action at Hartpury. Six top class competitions yielded six worthy winners.
Theraplate Ltd. Medium Silver
Winner: Florence Human & Fulgencio, 68.78%
The first class of the sunny second day of competition at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships heralded a youthful winner in 18 year old Florence Human who triumphed on board her own Fulgencio. The duo danced around the Petplan Equine Arena in front of judges John Robinson, Richard Baldwin and Sarah Leitch to win on a score of 68.78%, in a class which saw the top four riders all scoring within 1% of each other..
“I can’t describe it, I’m so pleased for him, he really did a good job!” Florence proudly said of her nine year old gelding by Furstenball. “He’s the laziest horse you’ll ever meet! You’ll often find him at the back of his stable not doing anything, asleep! He’s very relaxed with life and it makes everything so easy.”
Speaking about her experiences during lockdown, Somerset based Florence said, “we’ve been working lots on his collection and getting his paces a bit more wow, plus suppleness and solidifying our half passes too. It was difficult to keep motivation without anything to aim for but then the Winter Championships were announced and it was really good news.”
BD Youth graduate Florence also spoke about her experiences within the youth system, “I applied for DiSE two years ago and I’ve managed to complete the diploma. It was a really good thing for me and I’ve met so many amazing people, like my mentor Anne Keen. There have been so many good opportunities within it, like the chance to learn about how to deal with Clean Sport and the media, it’s been a really interesting two years. I’ve also done the National and Foundation Academies, both have been amazing. I’ve worked with people like Jill Day on mindset. It’s really helped me focus and achieve goals, and think realistically.”
On her future goals with her elegant dancing partner Florence concluded, “hopefully we’ll continue to progress at home and put the changes in place so we can continue up the levels.”
Second place belonged to yesterday’s Equi-Trek Elementary Silver winner Chelsea Tolhurst, with Fiona Newall taking the third spot on the podium with Fendy VCG.
Equi-Trek Elementary Gold
Winner: Judy Harvey & SP Bento, 72.24%
Judy Harvey and her bright prospect SP Bento came out on top in this morning’s Equi-Trek Elementary Gold with a cracking score of 72.24% from the judging panel of Carole Thornton, Kim Warren and Judith Harris.
The beautiful, Brightwells Sales graduate shows super balance, temperament and scope and Judy is clearly enjoying every step of his progress. After collecting her spoils at the prize-giving, she said, “I’m just thrilled with him today, I was really chuffed with his way of going.”
“He’s maturing well but has really struggled with the test (Elementary 59) in the past. But we’ve worked with him in lockdown to be more through and established, and he really coped well today. He’s come on so far.”
“Also, I felt the lack of arena walks would be to our advantage as he’s not a spooky horse and it may have caught some others out,” she added, which just goes to show her confidence in the seven-year-old chestnut son of Benicio.
“I’m sad his owner Jos Rosenberg couldn’t have been here to see him but it’s one of those things. She’s such a great supporter and when she offered to funds to buy something, I knew Bento was the one I wanted,” said Judy who first set eyes on him at the Brightwells Sales as a three-year-old.
“I often feel I should have probably hung my boots up years ago and even more so as I lay worrying in the lorry last night about this test in particular. But he’s such an easy horse and makes it such a pleasure.”
Judy and SP Bento will soon be travelling home to Buckinghamshire but not before contesting tomorrow’s Theraplate Medium Gold. BD List 1 and FEI4* Judge Judy has high hopes for SP Bento who came third in the 2019 Shearwater Six-Year-Old Young Championship and, next stop, would like to qualify him for the seven-year-old Young Horse Championship at Keysoe in October.
The 16-strong Equi-Trek Elementary Gold was a competitive class with the top four achieving scores above 70%. Tahley Reeve-Smith and her own Woodcroft Valentino, also seven, took the runners-up position with their 71.66% whilst Alejandro Farina and Walwin completed the podium on 70.41%.
Magic Prix St Georges Gold
Winner: Jayne Turney & Cruz III, 70.79%
Jayne Turney topped the fourth class of the day with Charlotte Dujardin’s pony, Cruz III, who has become the first ever pony to win the NAF Magic Prix St Georges Gold Championships. Buckinghamshire based rider Jayne was first up in this morning’s class and led from the beginning, posting a score of 70.79%, which, despite some impressive performances from the other 17 riders, proved out of reach for the rest of the class.
An emotional Jayne Turney shed a tear during her prize giving for the Magic Prix St Georges Championships, “he’s so special to me. I’ve always wanted this sash, I’ve had my eye on it for years! To win it on him [Cruz] is incredible, it’s the icing on the cake.”
Having trained Cruz III to Small Tour level, Jayne said “he’s probably been the easiest to train up to the level, the more you challenge him the more he takes it on. As we’re working up towards Grand Prix, the Prix St Georges and Intermediate I work has started to feel so easy. He’s still relatively new to it and has still only done a handful of tests over the last year.”
Jayne is still relatively new to this level herself, on her experience training and competing she said, “we’re learning together and I’m so lucky with having him and Penhaligon’s Jupiter – they’re both incredible horses to learn with at this level, not many people are this lucky.”
Jayne will now aim Cruz III, lovingly known as Tom, towards Grand Prix at the end of next year, “he covers the ground like a horse and he’s got so many gears it’s not like riding a pony - no matter what he gives 110%”
This latest success adds to an increasing list for Jayne, which includes achieving second place in the Equine Construction Advanced Medium Gold at last year’s LeMieux National Dressage Championships, and competing internationally at the 2019 CDI2* Small Tour in Le Mans.
Jayne and Cruz III are back in action in the Superflex Intermediate I Gold Winter Championship on Wednesday. In second place were yesterday’s Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold winners Kate Cowell and Rayban, with 70.21%, followed by Jess Bennett with JB Dukaat scoring 69.12%.
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver
Winner: Georgia Davis & Keystone Diego, 69.34%
Georgia Davis has started her 2020 NAF Five Star Winter Championships campaign in top style with victory in the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver. Aboard Keystone Diego, her nine-year-old son of Dimaggio, she won the closely-fought class on a score of 69.34% ahead Sarah Heath with Feuertanz (68.99%) in second and Katharine Lewis with Albertho B (68.94) third.
“I’m ecstatic with how the test went and I couldn’t have asked for more, he really listened well,” smiled a delighted Georgia (24) after the prize-giving.
“I’ve had him since he was a three-month-old foal and he’s now an 18.2hh BFG (big friendly giant),” she says of the towering chestnut gelding. “But I’ve ridden him since day one so the size doesn’t feel an issue - we’ve really grown together and I know him so well.
Talking about her experience of lockdown with ‘Doogie’, Georgia says, “He’s a horse that thrives on competing so in lockdown we wanted to keep him motivated with a variety of work including hacking and pole work. It’s so nice to finally be out and putting in to practice what we’ve worked on.
During lockdown herself, Georgia started a Facebook help page – Dressage with Georgia – to provide virtual training from the basics to more advanced movements, which proved a real boon for those unable to have face-to-face lessons.
Georgia was based for several years with Gareth and Rebecca Hughes, during which time she enjoyed international success as a Junior and Young Rider. She’s now based with the Oppenheimer family at Headmore Stud in Hampshire and trains with Erik Thielgaard.
The pair are no strangers to Hartpury having been placed seventh in the Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Silver Championships here last year, and they’re not done quite yet this year as they have another opportunity for championship honours in tomorrow’s Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver.
Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold
Winner: Claire Knowles & Corona S, 73.833%
With the blue skies and sun continuing to shine over Hartpury, 11 finalists were next up to take to the NAF Five Star Arena. After impressing judges Sarah Leitch, Debbie Wardle and Sharon Butterworth, Claire Knowles with Corona S took the top spot after achieving an impressive score of 73.83% in the Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold Championship!
Claire explained with delight, “Well it was fabulous! Louise her owner and I were just thrilled because she walked! It’s the silly things, you get up to Medium level and what are you most pleased about in the Championship test…that she walked!”
Claire and the gorgeous grey mare Corona C, have been a consistent duo with their scores, especially over the past month of competing. In the Spillers FS Music Medium Gold, they scored an amazing 75.33% together in early August.
“She’s not usually so good with relaxing and staying calm, but today she really let me ride her. She had a couple of moments in the indoor school when I got on but she warmed up out of it and when she’s like that, she’s a pleasure.”
Owner Louise Darlington bought Corona S as a six year old and enjoyed competing her herself before Claire took over the reins, she’s now been riding her for six years.
“She came along as a fun horse for Louise, and she’s loved doing clinics on her and taking her out training. It’s my benefit that Louise doesn’t want to compete her anymore, I get to take her out and ride her. It’s a really good partnership between Louise and I, we can work her and put the work in together.”
Claire, based in Essex, told us, “It’s so nice to be doing something a little bit normal again, we’d had a really busy time after Regionals so it was quite nice to have an enforced break – you never stop with horses! But it’s so nice to be back out and seeing people that we usually see so much at shows, it’s great to catch up and see everyone looking well and enjoying their horses.”
Nicky Heale secured second place scoring 72.38% with Furstinclaire, and the final spot on the podium went to Sara-Jane Lanning and Dreamcatcher III finishing third with a score of 71.55%.
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold
Winner: Jezz Palmer & King, 76.85%
Some might say today’s best class was saved until last as it was a treat for all in the warm sunshine for the Bailey’s Horse Feeds Novice Gold Freestyle. A fantastic mix of experience and potential, in both the riders and horses on show, produced a class full of quality. One of the show’s busiest riders Dannie Morgan has rarely been out of the placings after only two days and on his first ride, Sara-Jane Lanning’s six year old Fantastic-sired Breit Fantastic, set the early pace with a solid 75.74%.
Jersey’s Lucy Amy, last to go before the midway point, piloted her own six year old Jaliva W really set the arena alight and judges Richard Baldwin, Linda Whetstone and John Robinson duly awarded the duo 76.85% to take the lead.
Lucy’s mark proved the one to beat. Jezz Palmer, in his final ride of five in two days, arrived at the arena with Richard Burge’s elegant five year old stallion King IV in determined mood. Riding to the iconic music of Disney favourite the Lion King. The Governor sired youngster oozed presence and looked at home in the Hartpury arena which yesterday was more intimidating. It looked like it was going to be close and commentator Dino Maddern announced the score…76.85%, the same as Lucy. A short pause and he then revealed the collectives as 209.5 for Lucy and 213 for Jezz, the lead was his.
Dannie Morgan was a credible threat with his second horse, High Hoes Estelle, the British bred six year old, owned by Nicky Callum and they gave it a good try to score 74.44% to leave them fifth.
“Yesterday he felt lovely and today he was a different league. In the warm up I looked a Lucy (Jezz’s partner) and said ‘I can still get more’ and she just said go for more. So I thought today was the last day, I’m just going to go for it…and that’s just what I did. He gave me the best ride in the ring ever,” beamed Jezz.
“He never lets me down that horse, he just goes in and he give you all he’s got. Never looks, never spooks, you can trust him. When I heard there was no arena walks, I thought ‘I wouldn’t have done one anyway! He’s the sweetest horse.”
The duo will campaign towards this year’s young horse championships and ultimately have the FEI World Breeding Young Horse Championships on their radar. They’re also working for towards next winters regionals with a view to a Hartpury return in April 2020.