NAF Five Star Winter Championships 2021: day three
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The sun made a welcome appearance to get day three of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships off to the best start possible. With seven champions crowned, it was a great day across all three arenas with some memorable performances and a fabulous array of horses of all shapes and sizes.
Superflex Intermediate I Gold Winter Championship
Winners: Nathalie Kayal and DHI Cleverboy, 71.66%
Kick starting the afternoon in the NAF Arena was the Superflex Intermediate I Gold class, in a 24 strong competition with very tight scores all the way down the leaderboard, winners Nathalie Kayal and DHI Cleverboy won with 71.66%.
After coming second last year, the pair came out to beat this off the back of winning the PSG Premier League, in May, at Hickstead and second in the Inter I. Nathalie states, “I’m absolutely over the moon with him, he’s a horse that’s very established at the level, he was here last year and he was second in the Inter I to Dannie Morgan, this year I really did just think let this be our year, let us not be second or third again!”
Certainly, having a full and successful week so far, DHI Cleverboy is on top form, coming second in the Magic PSG Gold on Monday and third in the Magic Freestyle Gold yesterday. “I have been second or third all week up until today so…I don’t have the words to say how proud I am of him. To have a horse like him is a once in a lifetime thing, his temperament is second to none,” said Nathalie.
With a string of horses, Nathalie, trained by Debbie Childs, has her hands full but the gelding who is now fourteen, bred from Sandreo, doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. They get on so well and are in tune says Nathalie, “He was tired here today; it’s quite muggy, I could feel in the indoor warm up he was having to breathe a bit harder than normal. I’m so, so lucky that my biggest advantage with him is that because of his temperament I don’t have to warm up with him for very long, so we have some short warmups and we’re very in tune with each other.”
Nathalie is competing again tomorrow in the Superflex Inter I Freestyle Gold, on which she said “I do my own music, and this particular freestyle is all piano music by an artist called Jennifer Thomas. It’s quite dramatic in places is and then it softens lightly. It’s nice because it truly reflects Cleverboy’s personality, he is both those things – both dramatic and soft! So, I really tried to reflect that; I think it’s always really nice if you can as a rider try and produce music that has that operatic feel of telling a story.”
Talking about her plans for tomorrow, “I’m just going to allow him to give me whatever he wants to give me tomorrow, he’s exceled himself all week, he owes me nothing. So, whatever he chooses to do tomorrow, and however big he decides to dance will be his choice, so I’ll just guide him round and support him in any way I can.”
Not only is he a fantastic ride for Nathalie but DHI Cleverboy has also campaigned in the Children on Horses tests this year with 13 year old Demi Howard-Cartwright. With whom won the international at Wellington, in Elementary Medium.
With a close top five, Kate Cowell and Rayban took second place with 69.86% and Kimberley-Alice Seaby on her ride Dutch Class claimed third with 69.43%.
Equi-Trek Elementary Gold Winter Championship
Winners: Charlotte Dujardin and Times Kismet, 76.72%
In a hotly contested class where nine of the top ten were over 70%, Charlotte Dujardin took her second win of the week with her own and Peter Balshaw’s Times Kismet in the Equi-Trek Elementary Gold, scoring 76.72%.
Day three got off to a storming start in the NAF Five Star Arena as Charlotte, second to go, threw the gauntlet down for the others to try and match in the duo’s second outing at their first Championships together.
It was a busy day for Charlotte as she had to make her way to the Royal Windsor Horse Show as soon as the class had finished, with the other Olympic hopefuls, to perform their Olympic dressage tests. Charlotte is the back at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships on Thursday to perform in the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold, this time with eight-year-old Imhotep.
In second place was Sadie Smith and British bred Swanmore Dantina on 74.95% who closed the gap to Charlotte in their second battle this week, with Darren Hicks and Smantha Britton’s Woodcroft Django Mon Ami coming in third with a score of 73.44%.
British Dressage Medium Silver Winter Championship
Winners: Claire Moore and EV Amore Mia, 69.36%
Riders from Scotland are having great success this week. This trend continued with mum of two, Claire Moore from Aberdeenshire enjoying a winning ride in this morning’s BD Medium Silver Winter Championship with EV Amore Mia.
Claire and the nine-year-old Amour G x Samber mare, owned by Lindsey Moffat and known at home as Maria, posted a score of 69.36% before the judging panel of Jane McGarel-Groves, Andrea Smith and Fiona Wilson.
“I was really pleased with her [Maria] - she was really up for it today,” said Claire. “She went into the arena and really wanted to show herself off. She felt really hot and I was worried we might have mistakes because she felt sensitive and was looking at the audience, but I think she enjoyed herself and she felt very nice in the test.
“I’ve been riding Maria now for about 18 months,” continued Claire, who happened to be celebrating her ninth wedding anniversary, with her husband at home cheering her on! “She belongs to Lindsey Moffat and I’ve been so lucky to have the opportunity to have her to ride. We haven’t had a huge number of outings. We’ve done various regionals and qualified to be here last year but that didn’t happen.”
Claire trains with Nicola Buchanan and has benefited from online Zoom lessons throughout lockdown, which she says has been amazing. “Nicola has been very supportive and she was here yesterday to help with a lesson.”
On next steps, Claire said, “We’ve got another test to do tomorrow and then the summer regionals. We’ll be working onwards and upwards, hoping to do PSG in the not too distant future, and keep taking the opportunities that come along.”
The BD Medium Silver was certainly tight at the top, with NAF Five Star Winter Championships first-timer Harvey White oh-so-close on 69.23% aboard his Fürst Romancier x Ferro mare Icilla, and Brendon Tegg with Haybrook Welita completing the podium on 69.18%.
Petplan Equine Novice Silver Area Festival Championship
Winners: Alexandra Ratcliffe and Heaven van hof Trichelhof, 72.15%
This afternoon saw action from the 37-strong Petplan Equine Novice Silver and Alexandra Ratcliffe and Heaven van hoff Trichelhof, stormed to victory with a score of 72.15%.
This is the first Winter Championships the Lancashire based rider has attended with the nine-year-old gelding. “I’m so pleased with him, it’s his first big Championship show. I expected more nerves from him than there was, but there weren’t any nerves. I was thrilled. It’s all a bit of a blur! I just knew when I was finished, I was pleased with him!”
On what Heaven is like, Alexandra said “he’s ridiculously friendly, he’s a bit of a clown; he’s not the quickest, but he’s got a heart of gold.”
They want to step up to “Elementary at the Petplans, I’m doing the regional Novice with him and just hopefully he keeps on going,” says Alexandra. She is definitely proud of his achievements even if he doesn’t know it;“ I don’t think he knows how good he is.”
Finishing off the top three were Vicky Gawler and Sirocco with 71.80% and Francesca Segalov and Ballydunne Captain, 69.79%.
Petplan Equine Novice Bronze Area Festival Championship
Winners: Victoria Homden and Ollie, 71.18%
Victoria Homden and her own seven-year-old CHAPS registered Ollie were jubilant winners of the morning’s Petplan Equine Novice Bronze Winter Area Festival Championships scoring 71.84% to take the win in the 35-strong title battle.
Victoria, from Hampshire, told us about her champion ride a home-bred Gypsy cob whom she only rode in a dressage saddle for the very first time on Monday: ‘He’s named Ollie after Ollie Murs, he’s a very cheeky chap and so is Olly Murs! He’s a lovely chap, he’s so easy in every way and he tries all the time. We’ve only been doing dressage for a year and every time I take him out, he pulls it out the bag – I’m very lucky to have him”.
The duo impressed the panel of judges, Jane Critchley, Jane Howard and Cherry Elvin, at their debut Championships, in their debut dressage year after winning their Area Festival at Parwood earlier this season. “We’re currently working at elementary at home and have been mainly focusing on remembering the test,” Victoria confessed, “I do go into absolute meltdown and start stressing, so our main focus has been getting P and N really good and tidy and after today we’re going to make a plan on where we go next. Maybe some elementary classes and maybe a bit of music!” When asked for her top tips to help those following on the path to Petplan success she said, “Literally chant it in your sleep, speak it whilst you're driving, I’ve got the app so I’ve been listening whilst driving too and riding it as much as I can!”
Full time riding instructor and yard groom Victoria splits her time between teaching clients young and old and her new business, “I also co-run a backing and breaking business with my friend which we’ve only launched this month, so it’s been very busy!”
“I hope this has shown that anybody can do it. Ollie is a part-bred coloured cob, so hopefully I can be an I hope it’s also an inspiration to the children and adults that I teach, and they can follow their dreams too.”
Completing the Novice Bronze podium were Sandra Macdonald with Faside Je T’Aime and Catherine James with Sportsfield Dusty.
Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Silver Area Festival Championship
Winners: Sarah Holmes & Harley Brown, 67.99%
Less than one percent separated the scores of the top seven riders in the final Petplan Equine class of the day, in which Sarah Holmes and Harley Brown were crowned the winners of the Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Silver Championship.
This was the duo’s first time at a Petplan Equine Area Festival Championship, as they can usually be found more regularly competing in eventing.
On the 15 year old gelding’s performance today, Sarah said “I was really pleased with him, he did a mistake free, solid test. He got a bit tight and a little bit strong in a couple of places, but overall he did a solid test.”
Sarah, who’s based on the Isle of Wight, bought Harley as an unbroken three year old, and although mainly events with him, has recently decided to give dressage a go too; “I thought it would be a bit of fun to come and do it – and I can’t believe that we’ve won! I love training and getting him up through the levels so hopefully we’ll keep going and see how far we can get to.”
In a very close second place, just 0.04% behind, was Jennifer Harkness and White Sparrow with 67.95%, with third place Gracie Catling and Tsjebe Fan 'e Vesta Hoeve scoring 67.86%.
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver Championship
Winners: Georgie Nicholls with Headmore Figaro, 76.01%
The final class of the day was the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle in the NAF Five Star Arena. With a 76.01% score, in a tough competition to earn the title, was Georgie Nicholls with Headmore Figaro who danced to a Hans Zimmer and The Immediate compilation made by Sara Green.
Nineteen year old Georgie, who works for the Oppenheimers at Headmore Stud has only had the ride on the eight year old gelding for a year, after previously being competed by Alice Oppenheimer and Dannie Morgan. Out of Alice’s International GP mare Boadicia, Jack, as he’s known at home, has competed successfully all year with Georgie. It may be her first NAF Winter Championships but the rising star but already has three titles in the bag from Wellington regionals with Woodcroft Kika Quina.
On a winning streak, Georgie was also second on Briarwood Notorious with 75.18% set to a brass Beatles medley, the Negro gelding who was brought from Greg Sims as a four-year-old; who are back tomorrow in the Prelim Silver. Finishing off the podium was the in-form combination of Ruby Hughes with Hilkens Showgirl, owned by Shirley Rixon, on a score of 73.33%.
When asked about the two different rides, Georgie said “they’re both very different horses; Headmore Figaro, or Jack as he’s known at home, is very laid back, I can put him in any atmosphere and it doesn’t affect him. Whereas Briarwood Notorious tends to get a little bit hot and he’s never seen an environment like that before – he was a bit shocked in the arena walk and I wasn’t 100% sure if I was going to get him in the arena at one point! But he was so good, he really stayed with me, I was so proud of him – no one expected that to happen.”
Headmore Figaro is no stranger to the NAF Five Star Winter Championships, having won Elementary Freestyle Gold with Dannie Morgan in 2019.
Georgie has worked as part of the Headmore team for two years now. Having originally approached Sarah Oppenheimer to work there, to which Sarah turned her down due to the team not taking on apprentices, she was so persistent she managed to secure a two week placement with them, and thanks to her impressive work ethic and “outstanding dedication” she is still there two years later!
On being a part of the Headmore Team and any pressure that carries with it, Georgie said “there’s no pressure from them [the Headmore Team], they’re so laid back and so supportive. Headmore Figaro has had some success in the past so I thought “I need to pull this out the bag!” but I really enjoyed myself and everyone came so it was lovely.”
Georgie has another four rides across two classes at the Championships tomorrow (Thursday).
Full results with judges' breakdown: