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NAF Winter Championships '17: day five

last updated on May 01, 2017 11:27

NAF Winter Championships '17: day five

The final day of the 2017 NAF Five Star Winter Championship was a celebration of all things dressage and the perfect end to five packed days. 934 tests, 2802 dressage test sheets to produce 29 champions. Thanks to everyone who took part and to all our sponsors, officials, organising team and volunteers, a massive well done!

Equi-Trek Elementary Silver

Hampshire rider Dannie Morgan climbed into the saddle for one last ride at this year’s Championship, his eighth to be exact. It was in the Equi-Trek Elementary Silver Championship and his partner was Sarah Oppenheimer’s Dimaggio x Rubenstein I mare, Headmore Davina, bidding for a second title. The duo claimed the PDS Saddles Elementary Silver title on Friday so were looking to do the ‘silver double’.

The mare was focused and listened to Dannie’s every command to produce a picture of harmony which clearly impressed the judges who awarded them 72.81% which proved to be the only occasion the 70% barrier was broken. Lucinda Elliott, stable jockey for the Mount St John Stud had three chances at the title but couldn’t quite match Dannie and Davina so a second title was theirs.

Dannie arrived at Hartpury with two horses, Davina and his own Southern Cross Braemar with both horses having qualified for four classes. All eight tests were ridden, two titles and six further top four placings the result for the 26 year old from Portsmouth.

A delighted Dannie said; “She was amazing today. She was so relaxed in her body and frame – just great to ride. We gave her an easy day yesterday and it was just the job.” Part owner Alice added; “She’s a Dimaggio, they always bounce back!”

We asked if he felt any added pressure today; “Yes!” he exclaimed. But Alice was quick to say “Not from us he didn’t! We told him to go in and enjoy it. We’d won a title already and anything else was a bonus.” Dannie said; “I did put pressure on myself as I just didn’t want to let her down!”

Alice and Sara Oppenheimer were clearly delighted with their youngster; “For a horse that took over a year to break and we didn’t dare take to a show until she was six, she’s been brilliant,” said Alice.

Dannie ended in saying; “Both horses have exceeded all my expectations and even though I’ve won twice, to come second to Charlotte [Dujardin] is quite cool too!”

Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold

The Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold lived up to its reputation of being one of the hottest classes at the NAF Five
Star Winter Championships with Nikki Crisp and Viv Gleave’s Durable emerging as the deserved winners after scoring 75.83%.

“He’s amazing, I’m pretty chuffed with him,” Nikki said about the outstanding stallion by Speilberg sweetly nicknamed Danny. “I think they broke the mould when they made this one, he’s exactly the same at home as he is at shows. Really he’s just a completely cool customer; I don’t think I’ve ever had a horse like this one.”

Nikki and Danny rode to a classical hip hop routine put together by close friend Ros Kay. “Ros has always done my freestyles,” Nikki explained, “The first one she made for me was for a Grand Prix test so we keep saying she’s working her way down!” The funky upbeat tunes made for a nice change and suited her huge bay’s expressive paces.

The Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold is the only class to award a prize to the winning groom. Speaking about her groom Claire Young Nikki said, “She’s massively important to my team! She turns out immaculately and has a huge attention to detail. My horses really like her and she takes a huge amount of pressure of me… being at shows is really easy! Yesterday she even read a book with him in the stable because he needed time to chill out.”

The super team will now head to several premier leagues throughout the summer with the aim of competing nine-year-old Danny at small tour level. Having made his debut at Prix St Georges earlier this month, they will without doubt have much success.

Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Bronze

Today’s Petplan Equine Advanced Medium Bronze Championship belonged to Dylan Deutrom aboard Matt Hicks’ 11-year-old son of Flemmingh, Balance. The talented pair earned a score of 70.59% in front of judges Judith Harris, Sarah Leitch and Frances Turner.

After exciting the crowd with an enthusiastic lap of honour, Dylan said; “It feels good. It’s a really good feeling to win here.”

“We competed in the Medium [Albion Medium Silver] indoor earlier in the week and he was a bit tense, so today I was very pleased with how he has relaxed.”

Nineteen-year-old Dylan has worked for two and a half years as stable rider at Hicks Equestrian in Hampshire. He’s had the ride on ‘Bolly’ for two years’ of this time and credits a lot of his development as rider to the gelding; “He’s a really nice horse though he can be quirky. He’s really taught me a lot.”

Petplan Equine Preliminary Bronze Area Festival Championship

Buckinghamshire rider Zoe Dunham (36) enjoyed a successful afternoon by taking the Petplan Equine Preliminary Bronze Area Festival Championships. With her gorgeous French-bred six-year-old Highwell D’Arcy she scored 71.11% to take the coveted title.

“I was really pleased with him in the first round but he surprised me by boiling over in the warm up before the second test but managed to hold it together – it must have looked okay!

He’s only a baby at six; it’s his first time at a championship, first time away from home, first big atmosphere and usually he’s very chilled but he’s been quite lit up!”

The retirement of her experienced ride lead Zoe on the search for a new horse; “We looked and looked but didn’t have much luck and then came across ‘Darcy’ as an unbroken two year old….who wasn’t supposed to grow! I fell in love with him but he certainly wasn’t what I had in mind!” Darcy now stands at 17.2hh and Zoe is quite petite!

Zoe works full time as a neurological physiotherapist but manages to ride Darcy most days. She hopes to continue with his education and should start competing Elementary this summer.

Albion Medium Gold

Charlotte Dujardin has provided a masterclass of riding all week with her lovely young horses, continuing this afternoon with a beautiful ride in the Albion Medium Gold. Her partner this time was Brioso II, Carl Hester’s Benetton Dream x Dimaggio seven-year-old. The pair was awarded 73.79% with Lara Dyson and Jazzed Up taking the runner-up spot (71.72%).

Talking about how the mare was discovered, Charlotte told us; “A friend of Carl’s, Caroline Dawson, rang him and said there was a horse with good blood lines which he should look at. He sent someone along and she [Brioso] passed so he bought her. She was a just-backed five year old so was a bit behind in her training but she’s proving to be a proper ‘rough diamond’. I’d certainly say that she has the talent for GP.

“I’m so pleased with how she coped with the atmosphere here as really she’s so inexperienced. The more I did [in the test], the better she got.

So how did Charlotte feel her week’s work went at Hartpury; “I’m very pleased. It’s exciting to get the younger horses out and I have a great group of up and coming stars across the scale for the future – I can’t wait!”

For full results – click here

For rider interviews – click here