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NAF Winter Championships '17: day two

last updated on April 18, 2017 10:31

NAF Winter Championships '17: day two

The 2017 NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships will certainly be etched in the memories of Charlie Sawyer for a lifetime after claiming his hat-trick of titles on day two of the Championships. Riding his mother Sarah’s Chico Too he claimed the Albion Medium Silver Championship title in a close fought victory.

Chico has had a fair amount of time away from the competition arena with kissing spine and arthritis so it was uncertain how he’d perform after a hard day previously but he was more than up to the task. “When I got on this morning, he was up for it; he shot across the car park! He’s really laid back and what you’ve got in the tank is what you get really but he surprised me with his energy again today,” explained Charlie.

The fact he was so fresh and full of running pays testament to the careful management programme the home team has developed for Contendro I sired Chico as Charlie explained. We do a lot of fitness work – like an eventer – plenty of hacking and canter work. I describe it as ‘permanent re-hab’ but it works for him!”

Three classes, three titles. Was that ever in Charlie’s plans? “I came here wanting to do well and we’ve had such good preparation in the run up so was hoping for a win but never dreamed of three! It’s a huge bonus,” he laughed.

Equi-Trek Elementary Gold Championship

The spectator base grew tenfold around 14.20 this afternoon all in expectation of a certain rider…but that rider was the current Olympic, World and European Champion, Charlotte Dujardin aboard one of her high hopes for the future, Mount St John Stud’s Mount St John VIP. And the duo didn’t disappoint.

It was an assured performance where accuracy, flair and confidence flowed freely; every mark coaxed and earned from the Vivaldi youngster for a score of 76.61% for victory by nearly 7%. Charlotte was clearly delighted with her young charge; “She’s just like a little toy. I can go up or down the gears and she takes everything in her stride. And what’s best is you get the same amazing attitude at a show as you do at home,” she beamed.

So what’s next for the pair? “It’s tempting to keep pushing her as the talent is there. She’s already got changes and a touch of piaffe/passage but we’ll be careful with her; maybe do a few six year old classes and she’s qualified for the Medium Gold Summer Regionals,” Charlotte explained. “There’s no need to get her out for the experience as her temperament is so good so we’ll keep the wear and tear to a minimum to save her for Grand Prix.”

VIP was sourced by Mount St John’s Emma Blundell as a foal and Charlotte has ridden her through the grades. They made their championship debut last year at the LeMieux Nationals and took the Shearwater five year old Championship and Dodson & Horrell Novice Gold.

The day was extra special as VIP became a mum for the first time last night via embryo transfer – a colt by Foundation which Charlotte has already claimed for herself but Emma may have something to say about that!

Petplan Equine Prix St Georges Silver Area Festival

Rachael Clark filled some familiar shoes when she rode Carolyn Alston and her own Wilhemina II to victory in the Petplan Equine PSG Silver Championship; familiar because the Buckinghamshire rider claimed victory in the same class three years ago with Urionetta.

She’s been riding this year’s Weltissimo-sired winner for around 18 months and it was co-owner BD judge Carolyn who approached her to take on the ride. The pair have quickly bonded and were in tune today to score 70.18% - the only ones to break the magic barrier.

An excited Rachael commented; “It’s all a bit of a blur – just amazing! She was great in the warm up and the one before me withdrew so I took the opportunity to go a bit early and save her ‘big trot’ for when we needed it. She felt really confident but her canter work wasn’t the best it could be but she was super.”

She continued; “This is my favourite show of the year – I love it here so a second title is fantastic!” Racheal is hoping to sport the Union flag on her jacket later this year if selected for her first international which she’s hoping for at Compiegne in France or Hickstead.

The final comment went to the mare whom she clearly adores; “She works well – she’s just that sort of horse. I let her think she’s in charge and sometimes I feel she let’s me think I’m in charge! But she certainly trusts me a lot!”

Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold

Young Lincolnshire rider Lily Payne, at the age of just 13 years, took on and beat the adults today at Hartpury. In the Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Freestyle Gold, a class rammed with big names and horsepower, she rode with the verve of youth to put up a cracking performance for victory.

Lily and the pocket-sized yet powerful Beckhouse Cancara owned by Ann Savage, earned 73.70% dancing to their Olly Murrs soundtrack to edge ahead of Dannie Morgan and Headmore Davina. “It feels amazing!” enthused Lily after the prize-giving, “It still hasn’t sunk in.”

Lily has ridden the 11-year-old mare, owned by Ann Savage, for two years and says; “We know each other inside out. I knew I could trust her in there [the Hartpury Arena]. She’s very sensible with a fantastic nature, she’s amazing.”

And what Beckhouse Cancara lacks in stature, she makes up for with ability. She’s the daughter of a Hackney stallion and a warmblood mare – interesting breeding but clearly a recipe that works. “She’s such an expressive horse,” said Lily.

Lily trains with both her mum, Sarah Payne, and Darryl Thickitt and tributes much of her success to her fitness regime which includes regular Pilates workouts, even when in the lorry at competitions.

Petplan Equine Elementary Bronze

Natasha Rumble who celebrates her 21st in three days’ time earned an early birthday present today by securing her first ever national dressage title. Aboard Liz Rawlingson’s gorgeous black gelding, Westcroft Dragonfly (Glock’s Voice x Ferro), she posted 69.20% to seal victory in the Petplan Equine Elementary Bronze.

“It feels amazing and also a massive relief,” said Natasha who was joined by owner Liz and trainer Tracey Collis as part of her support crew. “We all cried and I was so happy to have done well for the whole team. It’s a big team effort so this is was a real reward for everyone at the yard.”

Talking about ‘Fly’, who was found in Preston by Tracey three years ago, Natasha said; “He’s a lovely horse with phenomenal, naturally uphill movement and has been a joy to work with. He’s gone from Prelim to Medium in the three years, taking him slowly as he’s a big horse. And he’s now training Advanced Medium with a nice change both ways.”

Natasha who works as a rider at Westcroft Equestrian riding horses from breakers up to schoolmasters, also benefits from monthly training with British team rider, Gareth Hughes.

Full results including judges breakdown - click here

Times and show info - click here

Rider interviews - click here