NAF Five Star Winter Championships: day five
- Written By:
The final day at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage came to a close under glorious Gloucestershire skies, as the final eight champions took their spoils for great efforts, scores and talented riding.
British Dressage thanks all competitors, supporters, judges, stewards, volunteers and event staff for making the 11th NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships a success. Special thanks go to title sponsors NAF and Petplan Equine, all class sponsors and event organisers Show Direct.
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold
Winner: Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus, 78%
Taking her fourth championship title of the week, Hampshire’s Alice Oppenheimer returned to the winner’s enclosure with rising star Headmore Dionysus, triumphant in the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold.
Unanimous amongst the judges panel of Claire Ballantyne, Sarah Leitch and Debbie Wardle, Alice and Amanda Radford’s ‘Dillon’ scored the highest score of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships, a whopping 78% for their Advanced Medium performance to show tunes.
On their winning test today, Alice said “He was really super today, he wasn’t quite on top form yesterday, he was a bit fidgety in the stable, I got on him and he just wasn’t quite where I know he can be and where I wanted him to have him. As soon as I walked into the warm up I knew he was back to normal Dylan today – I had awesome little pocket rocket Dylan back and he gave me a great ride.”
“I really trust Dillon and I trust my partnership with him,” Alice told us about her relationship with her winning partner, “I know how to make him perform to his best and he just gave me a lovely ride today. I love riding to his catch freestyle that Sara Green put together for me, it's really good fun riding to that music.”
Dylan is home-bred at Headmore Stud from the “superstar brood mare Ruby”, who’s also the mother of Headmore Dirubinio, Headmore Davina and Headmore Bella Ruby. He’s also by Dimaggio so he’s a full brother to Headmore Dirubinio and Headmore Davina.
Winning the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold is not only Alice’s fourth win of the week, but also takes her to 20 national titles in total! Reflecting on the week for both herself and fellow Headmore Team rider Georgie Nicholls, Alice said “It feels like it’s all been a bit of a blur! It’s been an amazing week; between Georgie and I we have won a class every single day, which I think is unheard of at a major Championship like this. It’s a huge achievement and a credit back to everyone at Headmore because it takes a village to get these horses to perform at their best. Everyone sees me on them in the arena but actually I couldn’t do it without everyone at home, so it’s been a great week for Headmore and we’ve loved being here.”
Completing a competitive top three in the Nupafeed class were Elder Klatzko with Dior VII and Kate Smith with Last Love.
PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver
Winners: Ruby Hughes and Classic Bee Gee, 76.92%
The final day of the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships got off to a flying start in the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Championships, in which Ruby Hughes claimed her second win of the week with Classic Bee Gee, scoring an impressive 76.92%.
At just 13 years old, not only did Ruby win the class, she also came third with Hilkens Showgirl on 74.29%, showing how she has mastered the art of performing two freestyles, on two horses, in the same class.
On how the tests went and what her favourite part of them were, Ruby said “They went amazing, I stuck to it and I’m so proud they really stayed with me the whole time. I’m really proud of both of them.”
“I love doing the extensions, they’re definitely my favourite”
On Hilkens Showgirl, Ruby’s freestyle music was a lyrical version of ‘Shake it Off’, which Ruby says suits her and her personality. On Classic Bee Gee Ruby of course chose nothing other than the music of the Bee Gees!
When asked how she manages to juggle two different sets of routines and music, on two very different horses, Ruby said “I’ve got quite used to it now, I’m quite used to swapping between tests and they’re such amazing ponies and they definitely help me around the ring as well, that makes it easier”
Ruby has had an incredibly successful week at the Championships, winning two titles and coming third on two occasions.
In second place was Katie Roberts and Nemo Vii with 74.74%.
British Dressage Medium Gold
Winner: Amy Woodhead and Ivan Carlos, 74.19%
Grimsby rider Amy Woodhead finally put her ‘forever a bridesmaid’ label firmly behind her to bring the 2021 NAF Five Star Winter Championships to a thrilling finale with victory in the British Dressage Medium Gold Championship. Riding Anne Cohn’s eight year old Ivan Carlos (Ampere x Jazz), Amy expertly piloted the stallion with ‘a temperament to die for’ to a score of 74.19%
“I’ve been second in this class a few times now so it’s great to finally win!” she declared. “I was thrilled with him, he went in with great confidence. He produced a really nice test; it was flowing and I was pleased with the feel he gave me. It was by far not the best test we can do and there’s room for improvement, but then I’m a perfectionist!”
Amy clearly has a soft spot for the gentle giant, “He’s just the kindest horse you could possibly imagine, you’d actually put an eight year old child on him to do a test and he’d really try. I genuinely enjoy riding him; we’ve been training him to get a bit more ‘engine’ into him which I really feel he’s getting.”
And where does she see his career progressing! “He’s a great prospect for the future, he’ll be a great small tour horse or for a junior or young rider. He walks for a nine, is stunning to look at and has a temperament to die for. As a professional rider, I can’t keep them all and eventually they have to move on. We’re targeting the Summer Regionals now – all the competitions are coming up so quick and fast!”
After a memorable Winters week, it wasn’t to be a final win for Alice Oppenheimer as she had to settle for runners up spot with Amanda Radford’s Headmore Dionysus on 73.92% but the team return to Headmore Stud with a lorry load of rosettes and rugs after an amazing show. Hannah Biggs and Sarah Johnson’s Freeman equalled their achievement at last year’s Winters with third place on 73.51%
Petplan Equine Novice U21
Winners: Matthew Procter and AB Kensington, 73.26%
The first Petplan Equine Area Festival Championship class on the concluding day of competition at Hartpury, the Novice U21, has been won by Matthew Procter with the Dutch-bred AB Kensington.
Matthew, 16, from Lancashire and the six-year-old gelding were awarded a mark of 73.26% from the judging panel of Andrea Smith, Mary-Anne Horn and Jenny Ward, a score matched by runner-up Hilary Cowie with Shall We Dance II, but a higher mark for collectives gave Matthew the advantage.
Talking about today’s performance, Matthew told us, “It was great to ride in that arena. He started pretty strong down the centreline and kept it the whole way through from there. He was with me all the way and it went smoothly – as much as you can for a young horse.
“He’s only six and this has been a great start to his career, let’s hope we can keep it up.”
Matthew started his riding in the showing world, later making the switch to dressage. AB Kensington was purchase from Astrid Bolton, who Matthew has been riding for since September last year.
“He was a Christmas surprise present and was given complete with a rug and bow!” he smiled.
They may be a new partnership, in the early days of their career together, but already they’ve forged a successful partnership with a number of impressive results, including up to the magic 80% at Prelim.
An ambitious young man, when asked what his aims for the future are, his answer was simple; “I’d like an Olympic gold medal, several actually!” Good luck Matthew, with determination like that, the world is your oyster.
Petplan Equine Medium U21
Winners: Demi Howard-Cartwright and WFS Top Red, 68.77%
Demi Howard-Cartwright, 13, from Berkshire has celebrated victory today by taking the Petplan Equine Medium U21 Area Festival Championship with Sarah Steggall’s WFS Top Red.
Demi and the stunning, Top Yellow-sired pony, known at home as Juno, posted the winning score of 68.77% to head the leader board in front of runner-up Amy Richards with Eros HZ (67.89%) and third-placed Florence Human with Briljant (66.91%).
“It’s an absolutely amazing feeling as it’s always been a dream of mine to win a title at the Winters,” said a delighted Demi. “I was just hoping for him to have a nice experience here and for him to be more confident in the arena.
“It’s so amazing that we’ve won it because it’s way beyond what I was hoping for,” continued Demi, who trains with Tracey Collis and has been preparing for the Championships by building the gelding’s confidence in his work as well as working on the detail.
Talking about today’s performance, she says, “The highlights [of the test] were some of the trot work, and also parts of the canter work. I had a problem in one of my shoulder-ins and I messed that up a little bit, which was my fault, but I was really happy with how he went in his test, and he felt really relaxed.”
“I would love to have the opportunity to go to Keysoe CDI if we can but he’ll also have a bit of a rest as he’s been so good at this Championships.”
Demi, who sees a future career in the sport, is already gaining experience competing horses. This year she’s enjoyed success this year in Children on Horses classes with Nathalie Kayal’s DHI Cleverboy, winning at Wellington CDI, and Hickstead and Somerford Premier Leagues - great preparation for when she makes the step up to Juniors.
Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Bronze
Winners: Annabel Abell and Sheepcote Lets Go, 69.35%
The penultimate class of the 2021 Petplan Equine Winter Area Festival Championships was a 31 strong class topped by Annabel Abell and Sheepcote Lets Go scoring 69.35%.
Annabel, who lives in Shrewsbury, trains with Maria Eilberg. On their performance today, Annabel said “We have been playing with a little bit more power in our riding, trying to be a little bit more positive recently, so was really pleased to try and put some of that conviction into the test today. We had a few not quite perfect changes but we were just really pleased.”
Annabel has had Sheepcote Lets Go for 3 years, having bought him from Sheepgate Equestrian. She describes the eleven year old black gelding as “an absolute professional under saddle, he’s a pleasure and a joy to rider, and he’s a total joker at home. Big personality to have on the yard and great fun to be around!”
When asked on their future plans as a duo, Annabel said “This hasn’t really sunk in! We haven’t done a huge amount of tests at this level, we’re newish as a partnership to the level and we were very lucky to be here today with a wildcard. We’re going to take a bit of a step back now and see what’s next.”
Sophie Bennett and Vallon Du Rock came in second place with a score of 68.80%, in third place was Catherine Tristram and Lynwood Formula on 68.20%.
Petplan Equine Prelim Bronze
Winners: Bethany Lee and Creevagh Hannah, 72.56%
Bethany Lee (26) from Cheshire has won our closing class of the 2021 Petplan Equine Area Festival Winter Championships at Hartpury, bringing the curtain down on five fantastic days of Petplan competition.
With her talented, seven-year-old Irish mare, Creevagh Hannah, known at home as Zara, she posted a winning score of 72.56%, to place them at the very top of the 50-strong Petplan Equine Preliminary Bronze leaderboard.
“I was really really pleased with it, she was really good! She warmed up really nicely and remained nice throughout the test. She was relaxed and forward and I was thrilled with her at the end to be honest, I didn’t expect to win but I was still so pleased with how it was and this just tops it off,” Bethany told us pointing to her Petplan winners rosette, sash and rug.
“I bought her three years ago from Andrew Heffernan, she had just come in from Ireland as a four year and I’ve produced her for a few years ago now I mainly event but last year I decided to join BD and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. We’ll carry on and keep working up, I think she’s quite talented as well. Bethany aims to carry on in dressage and eventing, having also qualified for the Badminton Grassroots Championships next year.
“I’ve loved it, we stayed over last night – the first time staying in our lorry so that was really fun! It’s been a really nice atmosphere everyone’s been really friendly, the whole day has been lovely and it’s been great fun,” Bethany concluded, summarising a wonderful week at the Petplan Equine Winter Area Festival Championships.
Finishing second was Sandra MacDonald and Faside Je T’Aime (70.90%) who’d travelled all the way from Inverness, and completing the top three our Petplan Equine Novice Bronze winners, Victoria Homden and Olly (70.34%).
Results with full judge breakdown: