NAF Five Star Winter Championships 24: day two

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Fri, 12 Apr 2024 07:49

Day two at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships saw nine titles on offer from Novice to Intermediate I; with first class competition for the accolades taking place in both the NAF Five Star Indoor Arena and the Petplan arenas.

Petplan Intermediate I Bronze Area Festival Championship
Winner: Sara Squires and Laetitius C, 68.628%

Sara Squires added another Petplan title to her name earning the first sash of day two at the Petplan Winter Area Festival Championships, riding her own Laetitius C to the top of the Intermediate I Bronze class.

Speaking about her test which earned a creditable 68.628%, Sara showed her strong sportsperson mentality, critiquing her winning performance: “I have to say I made a few mistakes and was perhaps a little disappointed! The horse has been going so well that I felt I let him down a little bit. On the whole the trot work was really good and I suppose the judges could see that. The judge was really complimentary and said that despite the mistakes he’s clearly got it all there for the higher levels, which was really lovely to hear.”

“I’ve actually found moving up to Inter I not as difficult as I thought it would be,” she continued discussing the progression from winning at Prix St Georges level to the second Small Tour level of Inter I, “I actually find the full pirouettes easier than the half pirouettes, so once I got the hang of the two tempi changes a little we were there. It’s now fine tuning it a little more so we can get the consistency in the work and letting him develop more strength.” Sara credited her coach Serena Pincus for some top class focus behind the scenes to make sure that Laetitius C (by Londontime) is working the best he can through his body.

Sara, who balances dressage with eventing and has ridden around both Burghley and Badminton, credits the sport as being ‘more difficult’ despite its steadier pace! The Gloucester-based rider began her BD journey with a visit to Germany to source a ‘serious’ dressage horse to improve her eventing dressage, “He was a lovely horse but god he was tricky, but I loved it and that started my passion. Once I’d sat on something that could move like a dressage horse it just sparked something in my and I thought ‘actually I can do this, and I can produce a dressage horse as well’. He was sharp but because I was brave I think it worked.”

“I really love it, and it helps my other horses too in their eventing to do their dressage properly.”

“I just want to say thank you to Petplan for such a great competition,” she concluded, commenting on how valuable the Petplan experience has been to her, “it’s enabled me to win two titles now – that I probably would never have won. It’s great for a rider’s profile but it also gives you so much confidence to train harder and go out and try the next level.”

Sara returns for the Magic Prix St Georges Silver on Sunday and then aims to start training towards Intermediate II and summer qualification.   

Olivia Wrennall and Disneyland came out on top in a close tussle for second place, earning 66.961%, a fraction ahead of Nicole Turner and her own J’Eton Hit LDS on 66.814%. 

Prestige Novice Gold
Winner: Myles Graham and Macalena N, 72.346% 

16-year-old Myles Graham secured the win with a score of 72.346% in the Prestige Novice Gold riding Macalena N, a 7-year-old mare who Myles has owned since a 4-year-old. 

It was the duos first ever Winter Championships together, when asked about their experience Myles said, “It was amazing, she was phenomenal and stepped up to the mark for our second stay away show, I really couldn’t have asked for more!”

“I’ve trained Macalena up through the levels," Myles, who brought home team and individual bronze medals at last year's FEI Junior European Championships, added "it’s the years and years of work with hours of dedication which go behind just a six minute test. I bought her as a 4-year-old, she was doing basic movements and I trained her up from Prelim up to Elementary/Medium at home, so hopefully the next stage is putting in flying changes.”

Away from the arena, Macalena is quite a character, Myles explains, “She’s the coolest cookie ever, the most relaxed horse ever who just wants attention, she’s the best horse I could ever ask for. She’s one of a kind!” 

About future plans, Myles added, “I plan to take her up through the levels and make sure to listen to her as every horse will tell you what they can or cannot do, and eventually will take her to the top levels.

Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver 
Winner: Evelina Shrieve and Insist TC, 73.500%

In the first of three freestyle classes taking place in the NAF Five Star Arena on day two, Evelina Shrieve took first place with her own Insist TC, scoring 73.500% to claim the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver title.

Talking of her test today, she said “his highlight for me was his changes, we very much based the floorplan on that because his changes are a real highlight, so do the changes on a 20m circle was a really nice touch as it’s quite a complex movement in itself. And also his extended trots, they’re always a bit of his party piece – they weren’t full power today because he was a bit nervous in there but they were still absolutely amazing to ride.”

Evelina, who has owned the eleven-year-old gelding for three years, said “when I first got him he’d only done a handful of Novice and Elementary, and I only joined BD three years ago so we’re quite a green partnership. We’ve climbed the levels together, so to be stood here having won the Advanced Medium Freestyle, I couldn’t be more ecstatic. He’s such a talented horse and ever since I first sat on him I knew he had the capability to win a class like this.”

This is the combination’s third time competing at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships but a first win for them both, which Evelina struggled to put into words, “I don’t think words can express how I’m feeling right now, it doesn’t feel real, it’s not sunk in yet!”

“Terry and I hadn’t been in an atmosphere like that before. The NAF Five Star Arena is so grand with all the trade stands and it’s absolutely amazing so I was just grateful to just be riding in there full stop, let alone produce the test that he did.”

Evelina has recently completed the Young Professionals Programme (YPP), a cross discipline programme ran by British Equestrian. She is also the current winner of the YPP BD training bursary, which she won by impressing a panel at British Dressage with a business plan, presentation and interview. Evelina has gone on to use the bursary to support her in training to become a BD mentor. On completing the YPP, Evelina said “the Young Professionals Programme was absolutely excellent for me because I’ve only been doing this professionally for the last three years, so it was really good being on a programme where there were workshops on how to put yourself forward in this industry. I learnt a lot about marketing, employment, running a yard, we went to do a yard visit at Dan Greenwood’s which was really interesting. I would say it helped me a lot in that way, as well as to give me the confidence to go out there and think I can do this for a living.”

The top three placings also consisted of Morgan Haerr and Floran, who finished second with a score of 73.056%, and Sophia Marston and E-mail in third place on 72.445%.

Equitex Advanced Medium Silver
Winner: Evelina Shrieve and Insist TC, 69.298%

After claiming her first major championship title just an hour earlier, BD Youth rider Evelina Shrieve was back in the winner’s circle to collect the spoils for the Equitex Advanced Medium Silver, completing a double at level and section. The combination were rewarded 69.298% by Nicky Du Plessis (E), Claire Senior (C) and Tamysn Cowie (M).

Evelina Shrieve was a long-time leader of the 34-strong class with her own Apache-sired gelding Insist TC, bred by Dutch sport horse tycoon Tim Coomans. Speaking about her test highlights she commented, “I would say his highlights are always the changes, there’s been a lot of work to get them to this point but now he loves doing them and they’re so easy and smooth for him. He also loves his extended trot so that’s always nice.”

“I did the outside test first which I actually preferred,” Evelina said about the switch from outdoor to indoor competition for her two championship rides, “I almost used it as a warmup to go in the indoor for the Freestyle because he hasn’t been in an atmosphere that big before and the indoor is quite magnificent. I found the outdoor was quieter so it eased him into the indoor, so was ready to go for it for the Freestyle.”

At home the combination enjoy plenty of variety with groundwork, hacking, jumping and polework, whilst facing the challenges of British winter: “We only have outdoor arenas, I’m based with the Thurman-Bakers, we’re in a valley so when we get bad weather it hits us badly! I try to school twice or three times a week and do a lot of other work to keep him entertained. Once they know the work and are established in the movements you’re doing, it’s just about keeping them sweet.”

“He’s a cheeky chappie,” Evelina enthused about her dancing partner, “people often say he’s a bit of a pocket rocket as he’s very small but he’s a bit of a powerhouse. I think people are surprised when they see him in the stable because he looks like a pony but when you see him in the arena, because he’s quite big moving and he’s got a good presence, I always say small horse, big presence and I think that comes through in his work, I just love him to bits, he’s such a talented horse.”

The cool young rider is aiming at consolidating her experience with Terry at Prix St Georges level, having made the step up to Small Tour last summer, whilst also aiming at Premier League shows at Advanced Medium level. 

Reflecting on her dual successes Evelina concluded, "I’ve always wanted to win a national title and always knew that he had the ability to do it so I’m so glad today he’s won one because I feel it’s a testament to his ability. I think it’s going take a while to settle in for sure, it doesn’t feel real at the moment.”

The Equitex Advanced Medium Silver class was a fine display of future talent, with all three podium places riders under the age of 25. Jessie Kirby and Muriel Dauphin’s Cheval Suisse-registered As Well Done De La Roche CMF were second by just a handful of marks on 68.290%, whilst Lily Kelly and the former National Young Horse Champion Newton Tiger (Blue Hors First Choice x Sandro Hit) claimed the final runner up position.

Magic Prix St Georges Freestyle Gold
Winner: Roland Tong and CHS Fonteyn, 74.125%

Roland Tong was the worthy winner of the Magic Prix St Georges Freestyle Gold Championship on board Carolyn Watson's light-footed chestnut CHS Fonteyn, earning a score of 74.125%. The image of Roland winning at the Winter Championships with a hot-to-trot chestnut mare conjured up images of British Dressage days gone by, where Roland was taking Winter titles with the future team horse DV Stenkjers Nadonna; both Roland and photographer Kevin Sparrow (husband of Nadonna's owner Jane Brewin), commented on the likeness between the two, which gives plenty of excitement for the future of Roland's current star mare. 

“It feels absolutely fantastic to win here today," Roland commented on his performance at Addington, "the mare was super good. Yesterday was great but she was very nervous and today she’s come out all guns firing so super happy.” 

When asked if CHS Fonteyn is a typical chestnut mare, Roland commented, “yes absolutely! You have to say, please can you do that, and I like what you do with your hair! She’s a complete worker, everything she does is fantastic.”

Roland took inspiration from the iconic Baz Luhrmann musical film Moulin Rouge for his music, talking through the process and creation: “I had the music done by Gaynor Colbourn, who was very clever. I had in my head what I wanted, and she played 27 instruments and put them all together on top of each other. So, we went from Swan Lake into Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, Everlasting Love, a very clever piece of music. I tried something very different and I’m super happy it worked!”

Speaking on his hopes for the future he continued, “she’s very young and fast tracked quite quickly. As long as she’s happy, we'll aim for Small Tour this year and she’s doing everything from the Grand Prix. We just have to get the strength and we’ll see what happens.”

“Addington is very historic when it comes to British Dressage," Roland concluded speaking about the experience of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships at its historic new home, "I come to these shows and have a lovely time with the horses. To be honest the winning is the icing on the cake, with a mare I absolutely love, she’s not going anywhere, she’s great!” 

Jezz Palmer continued his stellar week with second place going to Janet Oliver's Dutch-bred Honey D'Or scoring 72.167%, whilst BD International Director Judy Harvey earned the third spot with Jocelyn Rosenberg's Benicio-sired SP Bento. 

Petplan Elementary Silver Area Festival Championship
Winner: Bethany Edginton and Nelson HD, 73.235%

The Petplan Elementary Silver was a highly contested class of over 30 combinations riding down the centre line. Bethany Edginton and Nelson HD (Incognito x Nancy BS x Amulet) finished at the top of the score sheets with an incredible score of 73.235%. 

The 6-year-old gelding owned by Karen Redeam showed his class between the white boards, Bethany tells us, “he’s only young and he’s just amazing!” Reflecting on her test Bethany says, “it was really good, the trot work is much better. We had a trip in the extended walk which made me think we had lost it, so we might as well just go for it.” 

Having not been competing as much since losing her old horse, Bethany is pleased to be back out again, “I always did regionals with my old horse because I didn’t know enough about the Area Festivals, we started Area Festivals with Nelson to give him more time and to ease him into it.”

“The Area Festivals are an amazing thing, when you’re competing at the Regionals, the standard is just getting higher and higher. You’ve just got that extra bit of chance, it’s more supportive and gives you a bit more of a boost.”

When describing the charming 16hh KWPN Bethany explains, “he’s like a big dog, that’s the best way to describe him! He’s got his toys in his stable that he loves. His owner spends so much time with him, he adores her, he just loves being fussed and pampered. He’s just a genuinely lovely horse.”

The combination train with Hannah Esberger-Hancock and more recently in preparation for the championships with Jezz Palmer, “he’s helped me down here so it’s been really good.” Already looking for their next challenge Bethany tells us she is, “hoping to do a Premier League next and keep strengthening him up and keep going.” 

The rest of the podium was made up of Hannah Gilbert riding Ivoor to a score of 72.696% and Sue Kiernan and Just Me rounding out the impressive top three with a score of 70.147%. 

Petplan Intermediate I Silver Area Festival Championship
Winner: Julia Walker and Rodhea, 66.029%

Julia Walker and her own Rodhea topped the Petplan Intermediate I Silver Winter Area Festival Championship with 66.029% as the day came to a close in Petplan Arena I. 
Speaking of how her test went, Julia said “her canter pirouettes were one of the highlights of her test and we managed to get the changes – I’m quite good at making mistakes counting in the flying changes! But we managed to get them all today.”

Julia has owned the 18-year-old mare, who came from Lithuania, since being an unbacked five year old, “I helped back her and ridden her all of the way up. We’ve competed at all of the levels up to Inter I. We’re hoping to do some Inter II later on this year, she’s got a two year old colt so we’re hoping he can come along behind her.”

Based in Hampshire, the duo are no stranger to the Petplan Area Festivals, having competed at the Petplan Summer Area Festival Championships at Arena UK last year where they finished second in the Intermediate I Freestyle Silver.

Nichola Harrison and Lobke Van Het Urnenveld finished in second place with a score of 65.931%, just 0.048% ahead of Gemma Haworth and Kilcorban Cottage Fire in third place scoring 65.883%. 

PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold 
Winner: Dannie Morgan and Fever Tree, 79.295%

Spectators in the NAF Five Star Indoor arena were treated to a high-quality conclusion to the action on day two, as the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold class saw the top ten all earn over 70%. Right at the close it was Dannie Morgan to claim the win with the ultra-talented Fever Tree scoring 79.295% for a unanimous win.  Dannie perfectly captured the emotions of the moment, commenting ‘it makes you want to cry riding him’ as he left the arena following his atmospheric test which impressed those who enjoyed watching from the sidelines as well as the judges panel of Susie Cumine (H), Jane Critchley (C), Linda Pearce (B). 

“Fever Tree, my horse, is pretty special , he always comes in and tries his best. He was just fantastic today – he’s a beautiful mover, he’s got a fabulous temperament which enables me to come in here and really come in here and show him off to his best. I’m really pleased.”

The pair were the reigning PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold Champions coming into today, having won the same class at the 2023 Championships. Dannie commented on how much Fever Tree has come on in the last twelve months, “He’s definitely built in strength, he’s always been a fantastic horse but he’s definitely a lot stronger as a six year old this year. He’s developed more cadence in the trot, more strength behind. That’s definitely improved from last year.”

When asked if he feels a certain amount of pressure riding such a talented horse, Dannie said “if the horse doesn’t do well it’s my fault, the horse has got a good temperament, he’s a mover, I need to do a good job. I sometimes feel a little bit of pressure to go in there and do a good job for him, but he’s so lovely to ride he make my job very easy.”

With this win marking his sixteenth National BD title, Dannie spoke of what it’s like being so successful here, “I’m very lucky that the Winters have always been a good show for me, I think it’s a great atmosphere I love how they dress the arenas – I think it’s a great education for the young horses. I always like coming back and I think it’s good got get them in the arena – it definitely progresses them in their training.”

Dannie and Fever Tree head down the centre line again on day three in the Equi-Trek Elementary Gold and will be looking to aim for the six-year-old KBIS Young Horse Championships this year. 

Local rider Gracie Catling and Gaynor Morris’ outstanding Friesian mare Fraithwens Wytske fan ter Lune held the lead for an agonisingly long spell, and were well deserved of their reserve champion position, scoring 75.769%. Kirstie Clarke and her own stallion Nureno (Blue Hors Farrell x Johnson) finished in the third podium position following a powerful test which earned 74.295%.