NAF Five Star Winter Championships: day two
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Equi-Trek Elementary Gold Championship
It wouldn’t be a dressage championship without her and taking the first class of day two of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships was none other than Charlotte Dujardin with rising star Hawtins San Floriana. Judges Nick Burton (C), Gwyneth Lewis (E) and John Robinson (M) awarded the combination an impressive 78.54% leaving them ahead of Jayden Brown with Atterupgaards O2 and Katie Bailey with Hillgrounds Wolkenhall in second and third.
Hawtins San Floriana (San Amour x Florestan) joined the Hester/Dujardin team in July last year and proved her talent at the LeMieux National Championships as she emerged victorious in the Shearwater Five Year Old Championships, this was a repeat success from the 2016 LeMieux National Championships where the lovely mare took the Four Year Old Championships with Bryony Goodwin in the saddle.
Speaking about her ride Charlotte said, ‘I’m really pleased, she’s still quite new in the sense that I’ve not done many tests on her. She’s a real hot mare but hot in a really nice way, she just wants to work. I know that for Grand Prix it’s going to be just what I need; She’s a happy horse who enjoys working, completely keen and eager to do the job.’
‘She’s come on so much in a short period of time, I’m really looking forward to riding her as a Grand Prix horse.’
Charlotte spotted Hawtins San Floriana as a four year old competing in the Shearwater Young Horse semi-finals at Hartpury, ‘I fell in love with her, I asked Judith for a year about selling her and we agreed in the end with breeding rights’ she enthused.
This is the first horse that Carl and Charlotte have co-owned in their 11 year training partnership, ‘we normally have such different taste but he says that as he slows down he’d rather sit and watch me ride,’ Charlotte laughed, ‘I feel quite honoured that he still wants to put more time into me. I always say that I came here working for him… and now he works for me!’
Magic Prix St Georges Gold Championship
The inaugural Magic Prix St Georges Gold class saw another emphatic win for Charlotte Dujardin, this time aboard the Lord Leatherdale sired River Rise Escarla. The winning score was 75.57% whilst 71.80% put Nikki Barker and Durable in the runner up spot.
‘She’s showing a bit of everything for Grand Prix now,’ Charlotte said about the super mare owned in partnership with Sarah Tyler-Evans, ‘I’m really happy with all the work she’s doing, that’s only the third time I’ve competed her so really we’re still learning a bit about each other. I was really pleased with the test, she got a bit hot in the walk but apart from that I was very happy.’
‘It feels amazing to watch her win,’ added proud owner and breeder Sarah, ‘As for the future, I’d really like to see her go to Grand Prix!’
Charlotte took over River Rise Escarla’s reins from Sadie Smith two years ago but has spent time training the AES nine-year-old at home, ‘Sadie did a great job with her, I spent a year getting to know her and making her mine with the aim of getting to Prix St Georges level.’
Under the revised system, Charlotte and ‘Maisie’ will appear in the Magic Prix St Georges Freestyle for tonight’s Gala Performance alongside the remaining combinations making up the top 15. With six scores over 70% in today’s qualifier the class is set to be an unmissable event.
Petplan Equine Intermediate I Bronze
Holly Browne (23) from Winchester in Hampshire took the first class on day two of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships. Partnered by her own Siguurd, a Danish-bred 12-year-old son of Richman, she claimed the Petplan Equine Intermediate I Bronze Area Championship with a score of 68.07%.
“I was really happy with him,” said Holly, clearly delighted with their achievement. “He was a bit of a dragon in the arena walk this morning so I’m thrilled that he came out and performed a good, clean test. He [Siguurd] can find big shows a bit nerve-wracking, and when he does, he can go a bit quiet. Today though he was full of confidence, yes I’m thrilled with him.”
Holly bought ‘Smurf’, as he’s affectionately known, when he was five-year-old, training him up the levels with the help of trainers Natalie Hobday and Ruth Lovell. “He’s been quite straightforward, the main thing has been getting him used to the big shows. When he was a baby we took him out every week one summer to get him used to the show environment,” she explained. Several years on; “He’s done a couple of Inter IIs and we’re hoping to do an U25 Grand Prix at the end of the year. He’s got all the Grand Prix now.”
Holly, who is on a Law Conversion GDL course at Exeter, with Smurf stabled 20 minutes away, says dressage is a ‘nice break from uni’.
The family support team were also at Hartpury to celebrate the occasion. Holly’s dad Simon on hand as stand-in groom, with mum watching from the sidelines with a recently broken wrist. “Dad can groom again!” quipped Holly.
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver Championship
Oxfordshire’s Jodie Pharaon her own nine-year-old son of Belissimo M, Bear broke the 70% barrier to claim the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Silver Championship.
‘I was pleased, I thought our canter work was good and his changes were clean,’ explained Jodie. ‘We’re relatively new to the level so I was just hoping for a clear round, which I think I got although there’s always room for improvement.’
Bought as a three year old, Jodie has trained Bear from the beginning starting their competition journey at Novice and working up the levels with help from trainers Tiggi Bentley and Emile Faurie.
‘He definitely enjoys his work; he’s a one in a million – a horse for the long term, not the short term,’ she continued. ‘I’m hoping we can try a Prix St Georges by the end of the year but we’ll see what he wants to do.’
Cheering Jodie on was her nine month old daughter, Bailey who’s already developing a passion for horses, which is not too surprising as her mum rode right up until six weeks before her due date and was back on board three weeks later, she explained; ‘both of my horses are so well behaved, I wouldn’t have risked it if they were at all naughty, they definitely looked after me.’
You can catch Jodie and Bear in tomorrow’s Albion Medium Silver Championship.
Petplan Equine Elementary Silver Area Festival Championship
Scoring an impressive 70.49%, Lancashire-based Paula Holden piloted Eberhard to victory in the Petplan Equine Elementary Silver Area Festival Championship. Owned by Jane Lock, the nine-year-old Dutch-bred gelding clearly impressed the three judges being the only combination to score over 70%.
He stayed open in his frame and stayed, what I call, in my bubble with me the whole time,’ described Paula. ‘He was rideable – it was a great test, Jane was crying by the end of it! The end of the test has a halt rein back, which isn’t always his strong point, but his walk is his thing and where he can eat up the marks. So when I did the rein back and he hit the five strides brilliantly and went into extended walk, all I wanted to go was look over to the guys stood at the side of the arena and smile so wide but I still had the final centre line to do so had to concentrate – I’d have been really cross with myself if we dropped marks and lost out because I was distracted!’
Paula, who runs a livery yard of six horses – with three of them competing this week, took over the ride four years ago due to Jane’s work commitments in clinical research.
‘It’s been fabulous to have Paula continue his education far beyond my wildest expectations,’ beamed Jane. ‘He is such a safe and kind horse who’s also very rideable, I can take him to the beach on my own, he’s so gentle and I absolutely adore him.’
Placing tenth in their Area Festival at Myerscough, Paula and the talented bay just scraped through to the Finals, however the duo were soon back on winning form qualifying for the Championship with over 70%.
‘I think the new format is great instead of doing two tests in one day, most of the time we’re used to performing the one test and he could be flat in the second, whereas now there’s the opportunity to improve in your [Final and Championship] tests.’
Petplan Equine Area Festival Elementary Bronze
It was a close fought competition in the 31-strong class, with the top four combinations all sitting within a percent of one another, but it was Nicola Grainge and her own Eminence who were victorious despite being first in the arena. They scored 68.48% and had a long wait for the class to finish with Phillip Gover and Deutz, the last combination to enter the arena, posting the nearest score of 68.24% to go into second place.
Nicola from East Sussex, had a far from ideal run up to the championships with her mother breaking her leg twice only the day before they were due to arrive at Hartpury and her lorry breaking down the week before, “I just had chance to find a hire lorry and book a bed and breakfast! Something was telling me to give up!”
Due to this stressful preparation, the combination finished last in yesterday’s Equi-Trek Elementary Silver class, but undeterred they came out with a better frame of mind early this morning, “It [the test] was quite accurate as when you’re first in there’s no centre line, it was rhythmical, forward and mistake-free.”
Eminence, also known as Ralph, was acquired from Ryan Shannon in the Netherlands, “I’ve had him since he was five and just broken, he’s got a lovely temperament, very willing. He’s just perfect!” Nicola juggles her dressage with a busy work life, “I’m a dentist full time and have my own practice in Robertsbridge. I have to try and fit it all in, in winter I have extra long lunch breaks so I can go home and ride while it’s still light and then go back.”
Nicola has high hopes for her 9-year old gelding, “I would like to do medium next, but I’m aiming higher, I want a tailcoat!”
Petplan Equine Area Festival Intermediate I Silver
It was an emotional win for Catrina Leckie who drove a long way from Falkirk, in Central Scotland to ride her own 13 year old Adventure, who she has produced herself from a five year old, to victory with 65.61% in the Petplan Equine Area Festival Inter I Silver championship.
Catrina (24) was pleased with their performance, “I was delighted in general with his way of going and his attitude, he’s now at the point where he knows when he comes to these shows that he’s got a job to do. He was third last year in the Area Festival Prix St Georges championship so I was hoping to come down and do the same. I was completely shocked, I was crying when I found out! It makes the 8.5 hour journey down so much more worthwhile!”
The combination have overcome the poor winter weather conditions in preparation for Hartpury, “It’s been rubbish, home has had the most horrific snow so we’ve had a frozen arena, I’ve had one lesson before coming here, so really he’s probably done more hacking!
Catrina, who rides and teaches full time, bought the gentle giant, 18hh Adventure, just over eight years ago from Holland, “I’d never ridden a dressage test when we got him so we’ve been on this journey together and we’ve had some good success along the way but this is the highest level championship that we’ve won.”
Back in 2015, the Tuschinski-sired gelding had a career threatening injury resulting in stifle surgery, “We were told we might never ride him again, so every day I get to ride him is a good thing which makes this even more special! Now, I’d like to move up to Inter II and give an Under 25 Grand Prix a bash before I’m too old!”
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Gold Freestyle
Sadie Smith had a fantastic ride on the stunning Nutbush to take the class with the highest score of the championships so far, 78.89%, over 5% ahead of second placed Jade Struthers on EV Amore Mia. Known at home as ‘Gus’, the Negro sired six-year-old is owned by the team behind Valegro - Carl Hester, Anne Barrott and Roly Luard – making him a very exciting prospect for the future.
Despite his lack of experience Gus didn’t put a foot wrong in his eye-catching freestyle “He’s never been to a show like this before, he’s only been to a handful of shows, he’s so cool and calm, whatever you put in front of him he just does.” said a delighted Sadie. “He’s needed so much time to mature, he's so powerful, he’s a lot of horse for me because I’m so small but he’s got such a great attitude that it just makes it so lovely.”
Sadie (28) has been a rider at Carl’s yard for the past eighteen months and is delighted to have the ride, “He’s ultimately going to be for Carl for ride, Carl absolutely adores him, he loves him to bits. It’s an amazing opportunity for me!”
They rode to the same music Sadie used to win on River Rise Escarla at the Winter Championships a couple of years earlier – Escarla made headlines again today winning the Magic Prix St Georges Gold Championship with Charlotte Dujardin who looks set to storm the championships over the next few days.