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Sophie brings a touch of Magic to Good Friday

last updated on April 19, 2017 11:43

Sophie brings a touch of Magic to Good Friday

Rio Para gold medallist Sophie Wells took the Magic Prix St Georges Freestyle tonight, on the first of two gala nights at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships at Hartpury. Aboard Charlotte Hogg’s C Fatal Attraction, Sophie’s reserve ride for Rio, she owned the class with an impressive 75.75%.

First up, in front of the packed crowd, was Jezz Palmer with Zanthoos Himself, Paul Friday’s 13-year-old Negro gelding. Riding to a Madonna soundtrack, the pair produced a lovely performance but with a couple of costly mistakes. FEI 5* Judge Isobel Wessels who gave a rundown after each test said; “It was a really nice test. The music was subtle, light and suitable for the horse but sadly there were mistakes in the canter. I would have like to see a bit more impulsion but overall it was a good test.”

Gemma Maddocks and El Paso Van Overis rode a technically demanding routine including four tempis, then three-tempis on a circle, to dramatic and powerful music. “The changes on a circle were really well done,” said Isobel. “The music was good and it was technically demanding."

Eilidh Grant (24) did a great job with the elegant Gribaldi-sired 15-year-old Rock DJ rode a floorplan to emotive music earning 69.67%. “They really look like a good partnership,” said Isobel. “I really take my hat off to them. It’s a big atmosphere. The half passes were steep, there was a mistake in the 3s but she fitted them in at the end. The music really suited him.”

BD Training Director Paul Hayler and the 18hh nine-year-old Londonderry stallion, Lonswelt, performed a powerful test with some greenness, also for 69.67%. “He’s such a huge horse and very young,” said Isobel. “Maybe the canter could have shown more collection but there were some lovely movements, the flying changes after the half passes were very good. He’s a green horse but he’s in expert hands.”

Lauren Phillips and the elegant mare Hot Chocolate impressed to earn 69.04% riding their Western-themed routine. “She rode her very well,” said Isobel. “The horse has lovely natural paces and everything is there. She went straight from walk to four-time changes on a difficult line which was difficult. The mare was a little ‘looky’ but I loved the way Lauren managed her without wrestling with her.”

Victoria Maw and the chestnut mare Bon Rouge CH did a great job to earn 71.46%, her ambitious choreography and music really telling a story. Elder Klatzko had a challenging ride with the 16-year-old Woodlander Little Richard who was a little stage struck by the occasion but she did a great job with very daring choreography to score 68.75%.

Russki and his elegant rider, Leah Beckett were awarded an average of 68.67% from the three judges – Kurt Christensen (E), Jo Graham (C) and Paula Nysten (M), Russki looking very happy and secure in his work. “They look a good partnership, they look like friends.”

Bryony Goodwin and Hawtins Floriana rode a beautiful, elegant test for 70.33%. They showed steep half passes, soft, rhythmic and powerful extensions and finished in extended trot, one-handed, down the centre line. The mare has so much expression in half passes and extensions and the subtle vocals worked well. The choreography was difficult but smooth, showing the security of the combination.

Ellie McCarthy (20) and Donna Summer earned 68.71%, young Ellie gaining great experience in a big atmosphere. Becky Moody and Eureko were impressive and look to have a bright future though a handful of costly errors kept their score in check.

The eventual winners, Sophie Wells and C Fatal Attraction were third to last to go and pulled out all the stops with a very strong, technically demanding test to stirring music. As they powered down the centre line in extended trot to their final halt it was clear they’d done something special. ‘Jorge’ as he’s known, has been a busy boy recently with appearances at the Para Gold Winter Championships and Deauville CPEDI where he won all his three of his tests, and is clearly still raring to go.

The penultimate competitor Nathalie Kayal did a super job but with and expensive loss of balance in the first canter pirouette, they scored 70.08%.

The final rider was Joanna Thurman-Baker who from the off meant business with her Young Rider team partner, Highcliffe Apollo. The performance was secure, it was confident, and the music uplifting. “It was a lovely, lovely test,” said Isobel. “To be fair, he’s not a flashy horse but he’s really well trained and beautifully ridden.”

So victory went to the Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Wells on her talented up and coming star. Afterwards, Sophie told us; “We’ve worked on the floorplan for a while but there’s a bit too much in it for a Grade V para test so it’s great to use it tonight. He’s only just recently been strong enough too. He can be very spooky which has taken me a while to tackle it but…I’ve found if you walk in like you’ve finished and he can look, he’s happy and then means business.

“It wasn’t all his best work tonight but a lot came off and I was impressed by his confidence and good energy. He’s still quite new to this level as our focus was Rio last year but we’ll do more Small Tour this year.”

Sophie has the chance of the NAF double as she rides her own Valerius in the Superflex Inter I Freestyle tomorrow night. The determined Lincolnshire rider will certainly be giving it her best shot.

Full results – click here