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NAF Winter Championships '17: day three

last updated on April 14, 2017 22:01

NAF Winter Championships '17: day three

Good Friday was a bumper dressage day for the third chapter of this year’s NAF Five Star Winter Championships at Hartpury in Gloucestershire.

Blue Chip Novice Silver

Winning the Blue Chip Novice Silver and taking their second title of the week was Christian Landolt with the ‘foot perfect’ Liss La Belle. The pair took an early lead with an impressive 77.02% - a score and test which would prove unbeatable despite Christian’s worries with rein back. ‘She just couldn’t do it!’ he laughed before explaining his excitement at an announcement stating the Championship test had been changed to an alternative routine with no rein back only to find out later that that wasn’t the case, ‘I had a mad panic but today it was amazing’.

The six-year-old mare is a pleasant change for Christian who explained that she follows a string of quirky horses. Liss La Belle enjoys a lot of hacking in her programme as well as going around the gallops, ‘she’s just so amenable’ Christian enthused, ‘it’s great to be able to trust her, I’m finding I’m much more relaxed and positive in the arena now.’

Christian hasn’t got any plans for the wonder mare but she will have a short break before hopefully contesting the Summer Regionals and Nationals at Elementary and Medium. ‘There may also be plans for an embryo transfer’ Christian said, we will watch this space with interest!

Completing the top three were Dannie Morgan with Headmore Davina and Hayley Colwell with AB Barroco who both scored over 70% respectably.

PDS Elementary Freestyle Silver

It was third time lucky for Southampton based rider Dannie Morgan with Sarah Oppenheimer’s eye-catching chestnut Headmore Davina. The elegant duo placed second in two classes before winning the PDS Elementary Freestyle Silver on their third Championship appearance together. Riding bold canter extensions and balanced trot work to a Lion King programme created by Sara Green, Dannie and ‘Davina’ scored 73.91% to finish in front of Jane Morris with Quinet Du Buisson Z.

“We finally crept to the top spot” Dannie enthused and credited the seven-year-old mare’s success to her improved confidence in the arena, “she’s world class and loves winning,”. Alice Oppenheimer was on hand to add more about her newest star, ‘she’s got an amazing ability to sit and collect’ she said before confirming that she hopes the mare will be her future Grand Prix ride. Alice will take over the reins shortly with a view to progressing to Advanced Medium and Small Tour over the next year.

Alice was also full of praise for multitalented Dannie who competes at both dressage and eventing. ‘He’s done an amazing job” she added about the rider who hails from a non-horsey background and learnt to ride at a local riding school.

It’s been a busy week for Dannie who’s win today marked his seventh start, but not as busy as his day to day life. ‘It’s been like a holiday’ he concluded with Alice in agreement as they summarised a fantastic week for the Oppenheimer-Morgan partnership.

Petplan Equine Medium Bronze

On her first ever championship appearance, 21-year-old Lucy Goodman added her name to the illustrious roll of honour, winning the Petplan Equine Area Festival Medium Bronze. With her teammate, the seven-year-old United x Kennedy mare Freya V, she breached the 70% benchmark to clinch top spot.

“I’m so happy, and shocked, I felt it was a good test, but wasn’t expecting it to be that good!” smiled Lucy afterwards, as the realisation of her achievement was sinking in.

Dutch born Freya was bought by Lucy from Sussex as a four-year-old; her scope, good looks and small frame appealing to Lucy; “For starters she’s the perfect size for me as I’m not very tall. And the first time I rode her she felt so capable. It was nice to ride a horse that has so much ability. I’d struggled with horsepower before but she changed that.”

A working pupil with David and Serena Pincus in Herefordshire, she credits them with helping her gel with the talented mare. “In the beginning I spent a lot of time calming her down as she was so sharp and excitable. We did some Novices but didn’t get great marks then Serena suggested more advanced training and over the past six months we’ve started to get a partnership.”

Lucy is ‘quietly confident’ about their future and says; “Freya has a lot of ability. She’s excitable and very hot but genuine at the same time.”

Blue Chip Novice Gold

Yorkshire’s Becky Moody stormed to victory in the Blue Chip Novice Gold Championship, claiming the title with an impressive 73.51%. Aboard her own five-year-old son of First Kiss, Heavenly Kiss BS, Becky topped the leader board above second placed Nicola Buchanan (71.73%) and third’s Charlotte Dujardin (71.55%).

In a class that many presumed was already decided, Becky’s accurate test riding combined with ‘Hector’s’ suppleness and relaxed way of going earned top marks with the three judges.

“It was a really nice clear round,” stated Becky. “He’s just a really easy and supple kind of horse. It lacked a little bit of spark to be totally honest, his medium trots could have been better from what he can do but it was just a good, solid test and I’m really pleased.”

Having known Hector since a foal and riding him since a three-year-old, Becky has high ambitions for the 18hh gentle giant. “We’re definitely aiming for Grand Prix, he shows so much ability and he’s really sweet – plus it’s lovely to have a horse that stands still in a prize giving!

“He’s known at home as ‘Hectorsaurus’ because he’s a bit of a dinosaur that just chills about, he’s pretty cool,” laughed Becky. “He’s already qualified for Summer Regionals and we’ll look at the five-year-old Young Horse class but other than that we just want to focus on training and getting him strong, I’m just conscious that because he finds the work so easy, I just need to take my time and don’t want to rush him. He does lots of hacking and other things to get him stronger and keep him fresh.”

Petplan Equine Area Festival Novice Silver

Hampshire eventer turned dressage rider Mathew Baker won through two tough rounds to take the Petplan Equine Area Festival Novice Silver title with his own Merry Minstrel. In the first round they scored a solid 68.39% which secured them sixth and a ticket to the all-important second round. Merry Mistrel, or Tank as he’s known, then settled into his task and upped his game for the second time in front of the three judges. The duo bettered their score by nearly five percent to post 73.17% and victory, plus the Petplan Equine rug and sash, belonged to Mathew and Tank.

“He was a little on edge at first but then became really relaxed and rideable and did a really good test. I’ve had a lot of great training from Roland, so I felt like we really came prepared today.”

Mathew met Tank when he came to the yard to be sold but fell in love and decided to buy him for himself. “He was a little bit quirky to start with just got more confident the more we did. He can go to the top, he’s a good horse that finds everything so easy.”

Originally an event rider, Mathew went to a dressage yard to focus on that phase of his eventing but fell in love and, after a job offer from Roland Tong and Ben St John James at their yard, he hasn’t looked back and has been there ever since.
Next, his focus with Tank is towards Elementary and aiming for the Summer Regional Championships later this year.

Full results including judges' break down - click here

Rider interviews - click here

Times and show info - click here