NAF Five Star Winter Championships 24: day four

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Sun, 14 Apr 2024 09:24

Addington Equestrian was swathed in sunshine for a busy super Saturday at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships, with ten new NAF and Petplan champions shining at the top of the charts.

HorseHage Preliminary Silver 
Winner: Juan Marin and Sheepcote Adios, 72.471%

Sheepcote Adios was the standout performer in the opening class of the day, bringing together British-bred and Spanish-bred talent to earn the HorseHage Preliminary Silver title at the reins of Juan Marin. 

“We bred him,” Serena explained about the latest Sheepcote progeny to claim a National title, this one is a third/fourth generation home-bred, which is a great achievement and source of pride for the family, “he’s by Ampere and he’s out of a mare [Dior] that I used to ride at Grand Prix, that we also bred by David’s Grand Prix stallion. 

“It’s his first season of competing, it’s Juan’s first season of competing so I’m not going to lie they’re quite a green partnership!” David added, “we knew he could go well, he had good scores locally. The first day he was a little overwhelmed by the whole experience but today he galvanized himself to do what he can do.”

Juan had never competed before moving to the UK to pursue his dreams of being a professional rider three years ago, the 22-year-old rider has been a working pupil with the Pincus’ and commented on how valuable the experience of learning from David and Serena is, combined with the opportunity to ride a beautiful horse. “He hadn’t done much riding at all,” Serena explained about her star pupil, “he’d been a groom, he came to England to further his knowledge and opportunities. He’s been a working pupil.” David added that he took him to his first show two years ago, “two years later he’s winning a national title, it took us a lot longer than that!”

“Every year we manage to get a working pupil to win something!” David smiled, reflecting on the success of Molly Rowan-Sharples in 2023, who rode to two NAF titles with the smart Sheepcote Jackson. 

"It's been amazing to ride at the championships, it's a pleasure to ride this horse every day and I just enjoyed it so much," proud rider Juan told British Dressage. The duo have been a partnership for a year and a half, and have taken their time in training to allow for Adios' size, standing at an impressive 17.1hh. 

"He's a big horse and he needed extra time to develop into his big body, I really enjoy riding him. He will be great in the passage work, you can really feel and see that he will be amazing at that. He will go all the way I think."

"I came here for the training and the riding, I think this is a great country to become a great rider in," Juan explained about his move to England, "David and Serena gave me a fantastic opportunity to compete at these championships and ride such a nice horse, I'm really glad to work for them."

Emily Kemp placed as reserve champion with her own ten-year-old Boleybawn Arctic (71.379%), with Freya Percival and Happy Vemma becoming the third and final rider to go above the 70% mark in the class to take the final step on the podium. 

Equitex Advanced Medium Gold  
Winner: Katie Bailey and Escomond, 73.070%

A spectacular win for Katie Bailey and Hannah Dovey’s gelding Escomond, with a score of 73.070%. Escomond was bred by Verity Jenner and sent to Katie for schooling, “he was sent to me about a year ago and he just never left!” Becky Moody placed second with Jo Cooper’s Magic Dream, scoring 72.412% whilst Matt Frost with his own Kerouac placed third with a score of 69.298%.

Katie describes her win today, “It feels amazing, I haven’t had a title for a few years, so I was thrilled.” Reviewing her test, Katie said, “The highlight of the test today was changes, we’re becoming more established so starting to get a bit more expression in those. We had some really nice changes and trot work.”

At home, Katie describes the gelding as “Super cool, super chilled and just really nice character to have around!” 

Katie spoke on the preparation of getting here today, “there’s been years of hard work for five minutes around the test, a lot of training at home.” Katie plans to continue getting Escomond out for more experience in the ring, “he’s really quite green competition wise.” Katie explains. 

Katie is also competing in the Advanced Medium Freestyle and Medium Gold later this week at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships. 

Prestige Novice Silver  
Winner: Alys Matravers and Vorvashill Vertigo, 69.876%

Alys Matravers showed her class inside the white boards for Prestige Novice Silver victory with Vorvashill Vertigo, earning 69.876% from Islay Auty (E), Kim Warren (C) and Lotte Olsen (M). 

“It’s unbelievable,” a delighted Alys said about how it feels to win, “you always hope that you could squeeze a top ten when you come to something like this but this is absolutely unbelievable that he has actually taken it, I’m delighted.” 

The Taunton-based rider spoke about their journey together, “he came to me about four years ago now and originally he was just an eventer and then last year we dabbled in a little bit of dressage but last year he sadly did an injury and was out of work most of the year. We have literally focussed on dressage coming back in, he keeps on getting stronger.”

Alys has been a master of juggling logistics throughout the week, “we are based in Somerset and he’s done three tests this week; I have had another two doing a test on each day as well! We have had the yard to do first thing in the morning then travel up here three hours to compete then back home to do the yard again afterwards. I’m flagging a bit now but we have another test tomorrow morning!” 

Speaking about ‘Rudi’, a British warmblood bred in Cornwall, Alys explained “he’s a character, he will try unless it gets boring, then we have to change it all up to make it exciting again. He is brilliant though; he will pop a couple of jumps nice and quietly and hack out all day long happily.” 

“He’ll have a little breather a minute and go back out in the field to have a chill and then see what we can do for summers and winters really, to see what we can get out of him.” 

The striking Hanoverian Flashdance GH, owned by Beth Patmore, placed second for rider Jordan Kavanagh on 69.753%; third place went to the remarkable Welsh Section C Parc Roscoe, who recovered from pioneering sinus surgery to earn an emotional podium position for Laura Wells and owner Jacquie Holford.

Petplan Elementary Bronze U21 Area Festival Championship 
Winner: Gabriella Kozersky and Hollywood Semilly, 67.794% 

Gabriella Kozersky claimed the first Petplan U21 title of the week, stepping up a level from her 2023 Area Festival Championships victory with victory in the Elementary Bronze competition.  
With Hollywood Semilly, Gabriella rode to 67.794% to finish just ahead of Annabelle Wesley with Ros Tate’s Armada Dyffryncothi Bridget, whilst Derbyshire’s Melissa Hargreaves with her own Harmony Lox. 

“It’s pretty magical,” Gabriella beamed after her moment in the Petplan spotlight, “it’s incredible I didn’t anticipate it so it’s been a really nice special surprise. So it makes it feel more special.”

Speaking about her highlights she continued, “firstly just being here, being able to ride the test was amazing. I think the feeling he gave me through the test, especially in the mediums and the lateral he is really developing and this is what we have been working towards.”

“He is a pretty varied horse,” the A-level student added about what her winning ride does at home, “so I have been keeping up with my showjumping, we haven’t been cross country training yet because of the ground but we are doing lots of dressage and I do a lot of hacking with him as well with hill work. Yesterday I was just mooching around our local village...which might not be great preparation but I like to keep it varied with him to keep his mind busy, it has really helped him get in the zone!”

The talented rider also spoke about how she’s been able to balance studies with plenty of riding and training: “It’s been very intense, I have been very lucky to keep this going, I have a great team at home. Everyone who helps out has really enabled me to keep going this far, as I feel like this is going to be my final competition before I sit my A-levels. It has been tough but I think when you want to do something, you make sure to get it done and keep the horses going and keep a balance.” 

Concluding on what makes “Frog” so perfect, Gabriella concluded, “he’s such a special horse, he’s so easy and relaxed, so laid back. He just loves all the attention, I could spend hours just messing around with him.  He is just so easy I like spending so much time with him.” 

Superflex Intermediate I Freestyle Gold 
Winner: Sadie Smith and Swanmore Dantina, 81.750%

Sadie finished off her Winter Championships with the double win; having won the Superflex Intermediate I Gold Championship yesterday, she was back on the top of the podium in the Superflex Intermediate I Freestyle Gold Championship. 

Sadie wowed judges Richard Baldwin (H), Debbie Wardle (C) and Penelope Lang (B), who gave her a score of 81.750%, an incredible 8% ahead of second place and making this the highest scoring test of the week so far. Sadie admitted that she cried when she saw the score, “it’s just a dream really” as she said she looks to follow in Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin’s footsteps in achieving 80%+ scores.

“Today was just one of those days where I really felt like I could ride the floorplan and not be worrying about if I’m in time it all just came together nicely.”

“I just wanted to do a clean test because the last couple of music classes I’ve done I just had a few mistakes, so I was really trying to ride as well as I could. It just came off today. She makes me cry, she’s just amazing”.

Receiving an impressive 10 for her music from one of the judges, Sadie told us that the walk and the trot was originally from her Novice Freestyle back in 2015, “I’ve actually won on a few horses with this music, it was done by Equidance, the trot is Curse of the Ice Queen and the walk was from the film Snow White and The Huntsman.”

It’s been a busy week for Sadie, with today concluding her 2024 Winter Championships as she comes away with two wins and a top ten finish.

In second place was Sara-Jane Lanning and Hawtins Lirica with 73.750%, followed by Sarah Rao and Geniaal on 71.500%.

Petplan Preliminary Bronze U21 Area Festival Championship 
Winner: Sophie Bellamy and Drumnaconnell Goody Bag, 72.361%

Sophie Bellamy rode the lovely Drumnaconnell Goody Bag (Ricardo Z x Sweet Imp x Master Imp) to their first championship win, with an impressive score of 72.361% from judges, Sandra Smith, Pam Bushell and Sues Staines. 

Speaking on her favourite moments of her test Sophie tells us, “It was really nice, it’s a really really lovely venue. I thought at the beginning he would be a bit spooky with all the flags, but he went really nicely I couldn’t really fault him.” 

Overwhelmed with emotion Sophie explains what it means to have won, “I can’t quite grasp it, it was absolutely mega and I honestly wasn’t expecting it, it is just so good!” As a partnership Sophie and the 11-year-old gelding have been growing together, “he hadn’t done loads and neither had I, so we have just brought the dressage up, done lots of training and it has all paid off.”

Having previously evented the Area Festivals have allowed the combination to work on their dressage skills, “I have noticed in eventing the dressage is so important, if you want a chance at being competitive your dressage has got to be good.” After more practice Sophie grew to love dressage, and after only five months competing affiliated, already has her first title under her belt.

The buzzing atmosphere at Addington has made the day even more special Sophie tells us, “it’s been so nice, everyone is lovely and the venue is lush, I am really lost for words I am very happy.” Leading up to the big day their preparation has consisted of “lots and lots of training” the Irish gelding enjoyed being bathed and plaited this morning, “we made him feel like top boy and he came and strutted his stuff.” 

Sophie describes the handsome chestnut as, “really cheeky but he is honestly lovely, you can ask him to doing something and his only answer is how far.” Sophie is heading off to university but has no plans on giving up on equestrian life, “hopefully mom is going to help with everything because I don’t think I could stop it, I love it so much.”

Celebrating with Sophie in the prize giving with Lilly Cox who finished in second place riding BE Barbara to a score of 70.347% and in third place was Pippa Stephens and Old Spot Brite Eyes who received 70.000%. 

Petplan Preliminary Bronze Area Festival Championships 
Winner: Alex Heaton and Cosmopolitan Du Rouet, 72.292%

The only rider to score over 70% in the Petplan Preliminary Bronze Area Festival Championship was Alex Heaton and her own Cosmopolitan Du Rouet scoring an incredible 72.292% to take first place. 

“I can’t believe it if I’m honest, I’m delighted.” said an ecstatic Alex. “I can’t say I slept much last night, I was on very early this morning so it was an early get up but he took it all in his stride.” The duo went down the centre line at 8.28 this morning but found ways to keep themselves busy until the prize giving in the evening. “I’ve been shopping, eating lots of cake, enjoying ourselves but it’s been really good!”

Talking through her test, Alex was super happy with the performance and tells us her highlights, “all of it! He came down that centre line and he was just so ready and he lit up, he’s really responsive and he enjoyed it. I couldn’t be prouder of him, he’s never had a score like that before, so to have it here I literally couldn’t be more proud.”

Alex bought the gelding as an unbacked three-year-old from Annie Dalton and tells us he was a really good boy to back. “I then found out I was pregnant, so I turned him away in the field and brought him back into work after I had my baby. My trainer Laura Rowe has been helping me massively, and then we’ve just carried on ticking along since then.”

“He is the easiest horse to have around, he is an absolute pleasure I can’t say anymore about him! He takes everything in his stride, he’s lovely in all ways so I’m very lucky.”

Alex has aspirations to event him in the future and tells us, “he’s jumping bred so that’s definitely an aspiration. Maybe Badminton grass roots one day and keep with the dressage as well because it is good fun!” 

Xanthe Gould and Tartan Tiger claimed second place with a score of 69.444%, with third place going to Anastasia Meadows and MGH April 69.167%. 

Petplan Elementary Silver U21 Area Festival Championships 
Winner: Alice Lamburn and Linde WS, 70.539% 

Reading based Alice Lamburn and 8-year-old Linde WS took the title in the Petplan Elementary Silver U21 Area Festival Championship with a score of 70.539%. “It feels amazing, quite shocked” said a delighted Alice.  

Alice had low expectations for today since balancing her studies with training the last couple of months, “I only came back from university a few weeks ago, so I wasn’t really expecting much after not being on her for a few months. Then I took her to the national championships and won!”

“I felt like I kept the canter relaxed enough and everything just worked! Alice continued.

Alice is currently studying Human Biology at University of Liverpool. “I have quite long breaks from riding when I’m at university, I’ve got a really good support system back home, Platinum Stud - Jade Deter, Angus Humfrey keep my horse going and keep her looking nice!” Alice explains. 

Having previously competed in My Quest, prior to the Petplan Area Festivals. Alice talked us through her journey so far, “I started off doing My Quest on my 14.2hh pony, I loved doing it, it was great! I took her to the championships there and came second with her. I was doing normal BD alongside, but Quest was my main thing. Since then, I’ve been alternating between Petplan Area Festivals and the main national championships. I love competing in the Petplan series, it’s fun!” Alice tells us.

Looking to the future, Alice says “After university “I’m just going to enjoy life and horses and carry on. We did our first medium last year, would quite like to qualify for the mediums this year.” 

Second place went to Brooklyn Daw and Verity Daw’s Roulette MKM with a score of 70.245%, who missed out on first place by just 0.294%. Annabelle Wesley and Trevor Dickens Caroline’s Air KM with a score of 69.314%.

SPILLERS Medium Freestyle Silver 
Winner: Sarah Edmondson and Kyaro, 71.945%

In a class that saw the top five combinations scoring more than 70%, the SPILLERS Medium Freestyle Silver provided a thrilling close to day four at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships. Sarah Edmonson and her own KWPN Kyaro topped the results sheet with a sublime 71.945% rewarded for their freestyle programme which featured a musical combination of Midnight City, Made in Chelsea, Tom Odell and Harry Styles. 

“Unreal, it’s like a dream come true,” Sarah was over-joyed with her winning ride and described the feeling after her prize giving, “I can’t believe it. I was so happy at the end of my test because he was such a good boy; I knew he’d done a brilliant test but obviously i didn’t know the marks or what he was going to get! I just feel like jumping for joy.”

“He did everything, his quality of work has recently massively improved. It’s a really nice flowing test and it all came together really nicely.”

“He’s been a one in a million horse, he means everything to me and more. My dad passed away a few years ago and he always wanted me to have the best horse, and he just is.” Sarah credited her trainer Katie Owens too, who she purchased Kyaro off originally as a five-year-old, “without her I wouldn’t be here now, she’s helped me every step of the way. We’ve formed this amazing partnership together and she’s behind us giving us confidence.”

The combination are now aiming for a step up to Prix St Georges, having recently completed a few Advanced Medium tests.  

Sophie Chatwin and Katharine-Trix us were worthy runners up with 71.112%, whilst Amy Hose returned to the podium, this time taking third with Equi-Trek Elementary Silver winning ride Enrique. 

Petplan Preliminary Silver U21 Area Festival Championships 
Winner: Lilly Newcombe and Lagos, 72.014%  

Lilly Newcombe and Lagos were the final winners on the penultimate day of action at the Petplan Winter Area Festival Championships, earning 72.014% to win the Petplan Preliminary Silver U21 title.  

“I was not expecting to win at all! I just came here and hoped for him just to be happy and have fun, and think more about years to come,” Lilly explained about her unexpected yet well-earned success.  

“He was a bit tense in the warm-up but as soon as he hit the white boards he was like ‘we’re doing this’ and he performed to his best which was amazing!”

“I thought that as long as he trusted me and I trusted him we’d be okay,” Lilly is a BD newcomer having started affiliated dressage in late 2022, “I’m so lucky that I’ve got an amazing support team, everyone helps me and they’re so positive and encouraging. I didn’t over-think it today and tried my best.”

Lilly aced her preparation for the show, deciding to give Lagos plenty of downtime and resisting the temptation to over-practice, “it really paid off today.”

“He’s like a spoilt child!” The young rider clearly adores her winning partner saying, “he’s so pampered and has everything he wants, he’s so loved. He’s like a social butterfly too!”

“Despite being so talented and so well bred he’s so quiet, I can trust him with my six-year-old sister around the yard and I can hack him anywhere. I think that’s the most special thing about him – he just loves everyone and everything he does.”

Lilly is a freelance rider currently and is taking the time to work out what she wants to do, “I spend a lot of the time with the horses, that’s my favourite thing to do so we’ll see how it goes and where I end up next.”

Theo Charnley and Paul Charnley’s superstar rescue pony RSPCA George placed second with 70.625%, whilst Talitha Jordan and her own charming chestnut Crippsy Bilbo Baggins scored 69.931% for third.