NAF Five Star Winter Championships: day five
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With ten horses entered this week who were born at Headmore Stud, it was likely they’d feature well in the placings but in this morning's SureGrow UK Elementary Freestyle Gold, it was a case of domination.
First of the Headmore trio was the six year old Florencio-sired Headmore Figaro, owned by Sarah Oppenheimer with Dannie Morgan in the saddle. Due to a withdrawal, they were also the first of the class and what a start to make! A captivating floorplan with as much technicality as the level allows to music which was so apt for the cheerful chestnut. A massive score of 78.78% was announced…gauntlet firmly laid down.
Next was the Belissimo M mare Headmore Bella Ruby with Alice Oppenheimer. This duo were still flying high from their Equi-Trek Elementary Gold and they looked pretty spot on. Again excellent music with a flat plan packed with difficulty greeted the judges who duly obliged with a score of 77.37% to put Alice second.
The combinations gave their all including Dannie with his second ride, Nicola Callam’s High Hoes Florizel, but they couldn’t come close.
Then the penultimate to go was Alice with her second ride, Headmore Dionysus, a half brother to Bella Ruby in sharing the same dam, Headmore’s legendary Rubinsteena but this time with Dimaggio as the sire. ‘Dillon’ was bridesmaid on Thursday in the straight class but being a year older, today he showed that extra strength and was a picture in the arena. Again, perfectly selected music by Sara Green accompanied well thought out movements. They halted and saluted knowing it was going to be a good score. The commentator started…78…point…20%. Dannie and ‘Jack’ were champions.
“I’m really pleased with him,” exclaimed Dannie. “I broke him in as a three year old and produced him along the way. He was fourth here last year and then second at the Nationals at Novice so it’s great to come here and get the win.
“He’s got a great walk and he’s very secure in the medium canter plus he can do the simple changes so I’ve really worked on a technical floor plan. I didn’t mind going first, I just went in and gave the judges something to sit up and watch!” he continued.
Alice was emotional afterwards. “It’s been an incredible week for Headmore. Six wins so far and three seconds, just amazing. Dannie and I have had some banter; ‘my walk is better, but no my music is’ – it’s been fun and in the end, it didn’t matter who won. Bella Ruby felt a bit tired today, she’s not a physically developed as Dillan but for all three to get those scores and be so far ahead of the other is great, they’re so clever! That was definitely the coolest prize giving I’ve ever done!
“I have to thank Sara Green for her amazing skill in putting my music together. The detail she puts into every one and captures the horse’s personality is amazing. She’ll certainly be part of our celebrations.
“It’s been a big build up for all the horses and I can’t fault any of them this week. It’s been very emotional and I’ve had the full range of ups and downs!” said Alice.
Petplan Equine Prelim Bronze
Joseph Davey and Joan Price’s Humbug II achieved an emphatic win in Sunday morning’s Petplan Equine Prelim Bronze after scoring a brilliant 72.08%.
“It’s the journey,” an emotional Joseph said about his first championship win in only his second year with British Dressage, “I’m buzzing!”
“I felt like I was water-skiing in my test but apparently it looked better than it felt! He was a very good boy, very obedient and just a little bit tense at times because of the whole occasion. I’ve been riding him for Joan Price for three years and he only learned to canter at 18! It’s not his strongest point but he’s really come on. For what he possibly lacks in ability, he’s got the biggest heart.”
Joseph has benefited from the expertise of Nikki McPherson, Denise O’Reilly and Karen Rouse: “Denise is an advocate of the ride with your mind approach and this has really helped me – I’ve always felt like I’ve needed more ability in my riding to help him, she was really marvellous. Karen has helped us recently, he’s a little stronger and more ready for it now and she really gets him.”
“Really he’s everything you don’t want in a dressage horse,” he added laughing, “he’s got a good trot and he’s getting more and more confident with it all. He loves jumping too so we’ve used this to improve his canter!” Having taken the part bred trotting horse from not being able to canter a circle to Area Festival success, away from working in Finance for his local authority in schools Joseph rides Humbug three times a week and shares the ride with proud owner Jo. “She’s very kindly stayed off him,” laughed Joseph, “now we’ve done this she’s going to start to do a little more on him and she can’t wait to canter him because she never has!”
Joseph will now aim the piebald gelding at the 2019/2020 Area Festival series at Novice level and is also hoping to have a shot at the Summer Regionals at Prelim. Proud friend Viv Rhodes was quick to praise the rider from Kingsbury, “Joe’s just so good with the horses, he’s very calm and gets inside their heads. Him and Humbug have just bonded so well.”
Second place went to Catrin John with Llancayo Danny Boy, and Trailtrow Texa Beag took third with Kirstin McMurray in the saddle.
Petplan Equine Medium U21 Area Festival Championship
Exeter rider Danielle Balsdon used her new found skills learned as a British Dressage National Academy rider to squeeze every mark possible from her self-produced Lord Lennox and claim the Petplan Equine Area Festival Medium u21 title.
By the prolific German sire L’Espoir, the exceptionally handsome ‘Lenny’ was bought by Danielle as a green five year old and she has produced him up the levels under guidance from trainers Adam Kemp and Karen List.
“I’m totally overwhelmed and wasn’t expecting this. He did some of his best ever trot work today but as usual made me ride every step of canter. Today’s the first time he held it all together through the whole test; he’s hard to get a consistent test from,” summed up Danielle, who works as a bookkeeper.
“I’d like to get to do under 25 Grand Prix with him but we’ll just move up the levels at his pace. Next will be Advanced Medium at ‘Petplans’. I’ve learned so much from the National Academy training and there’s no doubt it helped me get a few more marks today,” she explained.
Petplan Equine Novice U21 Area Festival Championship
This week, the deciding rounds of the Petplan Equine series have provided a real showcase of up-and-coming U21 talent. One such rider is Carla Milne who took the spoils in today’s Petplan Equine Novice Area Festival U21 Area Festival Championship.
Carla rode her talented black gelding Hey Good Looking GK (Chello III VDL x Elcaro) to a clear victory in the competitive class, scoring 71.87% from judges Sue Carson, Andrea Hessay and Sue Petty. “I’m so happy! This win was quite unexpected…it’s so exciting,” said a delighted Carla after the prize-giving. “He’s such a sharp horse and he can be difficult so I’m really happy with just how relaxed he was in the test.”
Carla and ‘Cookie’, as he’s known, are no strangers to Hartpury having won the 2018 KBIS Preliminary Silver title, and this week has been a busy one for the pair. Arriving Monday, they’ve competed in both the Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Silver and the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Silver achieving 11th and 15th place respectively.
Bought as a just backed four-year-old from Dutch Sports Horses, Cookie is described as ‘cheeky and he loves people’. Now seven, Carla has produced him with support from trainer Jane Rutherford.
It was double celebrations for Carla this week as she also celebrated her 16th birthday. Happy birthday Carla! She now sets off on the seven-hour trip back home to Dumfries and Galloway.
Nupafeed Advanced Medium Gold Freestyle
On day five of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships the gentleman of dressage, Dannie Morgan, has once again shown what an exciting talent he is. The 27-year-old from Hampshire has enjoyed a resounding victory in this afternoon’s Nupafeed Advanced Medium Gold Freestyle Championship taking his 2019 NAF Five Star Winter Championship total to a thrilling three.
With Lisa Morgan and David Knoxx’s stunning liver chestnut, Knoxx’s Figaro (Jazz x Krack C), he was awarded a super score of 76.05% from judges Penelope Lang at E, Austria’s Claudia Thaller at C and Nick Burton at M. This put a plus three percent margin between him and second-placed Jayne Turney with Charlotte Dujardin’s talented pony, Cruz III (72.83%).
“I’m a bit speechless really, it’s not often you have a day or a week like this,” said Dannie following the prize-giving in front of an appreciative Hartpury crowd. “After winning the Advanced Medium [Gold] yesterday, I just relaxed today and went in to enjoy it. I’m so happy.”
Dannie and Fig’s performance was all about supreme balance, suppleness and power, to a soundtrack of music from the film War of the Worlds, compiled by Clare Deithrick. “The trot’s really grown in strength as he’s become more confident in the ring, and now that he’s more supple, he can show the gears more,” says Dannie.
Earlier today Dannie won the Suregrow Elementary Freestyle Gold with another Figaro, Headmore Figaro, with Alice Oppenheimer taking second and third on Headmore-bred horses. Talking about his collaboration with the stud, Dannie smiled, “Me and Alice have a bit of friendly rivalry! We have a bit of banter between us. It’s great that we’ve both done well and it’s good to have that support and team around us.”
Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Bronze
Concluding a week of top class action in the Petplan Equine Arenas, Denise Fryer rode the test of her life to score 70.72% and claim the final title of the week, the Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Bronze Area Festival. With her own Keystone Starstruck, Denise was the sole rider to top the 70% barrier finishing nearly three percent clear of the field.
With her win today, Denise completes the Area Festival hat-trick having won her Area Festival at Crofton Manor and her Area Festival Final at Bicton Arena. Speaking about her Area Festival Championship win she said, “I’m over the moon with her, she’s tried her heart out for me!”
“The changes were great today and she was just so with me, she did everything I asked, when I asked, she didn’t care about the atmosphere! She just went in there and was like ‘I’ve got this!’ I’m really happy.”
The eight year old British-bred mare by Serano was bought by Intensive Care Nurse Denise out of the field at three years old. With persistent training and help from Kate Smith, the gamble more than paid off for the busy Stockbridge lady who carefully balances her work with dressage. “I do this to relax really! She hacks or has a day off when I’m working and I school her when I’m off, it works quite well!”
“She’s just a joy to own,” an elated Denise continued, “She loves cuddles, scratches and attention – she’s the cuddliest horse going and is just super chilled out.”
Next up for the talented duo is hopefully a debut at Prix St Georges level, we’re sure they’ll be in the arena in top hat and tails very soon.
TheraPlate UK Medium Gold
The Medium Gold class at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships is always worth staying to watch and this year, it’s first supported by leading equine rehabilitation and sports conditioning experts TheraPlate UK, the standard didn’t disappoint.
The test to impress the judges panel of Peter Storr (C), Andrea Smith (M) and Sara Jane Lanning (E) was that of Katie Bailey and Hillgrounds Wolkenhall who earned a whopping 75.31% to steal the win from long-time leader Becky Moody and Heavenly Kiss BS. Becky and ‘Hector’ held on for second with an equally as impressive 72.25% whilst U25s rider Becky Edwards and Laerke Stensvang completed the top three with 71.66%.
“It feels extra special when it’s your own!” Local lady Katie bought ‘Harry’ as a foal from breeder Claire Skinner, “He’s the first one I’ve done this with but wouldn’t do it again as it’s been quite expensive! He’s been quite straightforward and is mentally quite sharp but he’s really talented.”
The well-suited combination placed here last year and have progressed through the levels over the winter season. About her winning test today on board the eight year old son of Wolkenderry Katie added, “he felt a bit more tense than he did in here last year, just a bit more ‘looky’. He actually knocked himself last week so I haven’t been able to give him as much preparation as I’d have liked.”
“He gave me a really good feel today and I know he has all the talent to go up the levels,” dual Winter Championship title winner Katie concluded.