Spellbinding Charlotte wins Magic PSG Freestyle
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The Magic Prix St Georges Freestyle is always a thrilling competition and last night’s class didn’t disappoint. In the end it was Charlotte Dujardin and Sarah Tyler-Evans' outstanding River Rise Escarla who took the prestigious title after earning a score of 74.04% from judges Peter Storr (C), Anita Andendorff (M) and Mary-Ann Horn (E).
First into the arena was East Sussex based rider Luke Baber Davis and Tracy Cooper’s eye catching dark bay gelding Keystone Drummer Boy. In their test, dramatic film themed music matched powerful extended trots and flowing lateral work whilst in the canter work extended lines into half pirouettes followed by tempi changes contributed to a complex floorplan featuring lots of movement combinations. The gala evening feature class was accompanied by a commentary from Grand Prix rider and FEI 5* judge Isobel Wessels, speaking about Luke’s test she said ‘the music enhanced the way of going, it was a very dramatic start with a rather impressive, difficult floorplan!’
The dainty strains of Mary Poppins accompanied Bridget Tate and Hawtin’s Werona’s charming routine. The elegant combination excelled in the trot lateral work and showed much potential in the canter despite the spirited chestnut mare showing her enthusiasm in the first extension! Isobel Wessels praised Bridget’s skills in the saddle as she settled her mare to complete her test.
The lovely combination of Debbie Poynter and Keystone For Real showed their harmony in the NAF arena with a fabulous performance earning them 65.96%. The black gelding by Florencio impressed with his active extended trot and relaxed extended walk where he showed great over-track. Isobel commented, ‘the start of this test was good, Keystone For Real has really fabulous paces. She showed a particularly lovely walk and powerful trot with a nice ability to half pass. The horse was a little high in the neck and there were a few problems in canter but it’s a gorgeous British horse with huge potential and a very bright future.’
Indiana Jones was the tune of choice for Paul Hayler and Lonswelt. The powerful stallion showed good elevation in his tempi changes and an interesting, symmetrical floorplan played to his strengths. Offering some positive feedback Isobel said, ‘Lonswelt perhaps needs a little more balance and relaxation, Paul rode a very positive, dynamic freestyle with great music that enhanced the performance – well done!’ 64.29% was their confirmed score.
Sarah Williams and Bohingus W danced around the NAF arena to a tasteful Queen routine. Their performance landed them a credible twelfth and 63.46%. Georgina Howard’s Bohingus proved his talent with a very flowing, rhythmical trot tour. ‘Congratulations Sarah for putting together a routine that really suited her horse,’ Isobel added.
Fifth rider in to the ring, Paul Friday, impressed with the talented Romanno Rafiel. Lovely pirouettes and three time changes on the centre line were highlights in the canter work, the walk was relaxed and ground covering and the trot work was balanced yet energetic. The combination finished in a deserved sixth place with a score of 68.50%. Isobel Wessels particularly enjoyed the floorplan, ‘what a super horse with three good natural gaits, it was a little deep in the neck at times but all round it was a really good routine. It was quite a difficult routine but showed off the horse’s suppleness, great work Paul!’
‘There were some really lovely moments, this a beautiful horse who shows great scope in his paces and Dan showed brilliant, brave riding. There were lots of very nice things, Dan is always a real pro and this is a partnership to watch for the future.’ Isobel said after a tricky start to Dan Greenwood’s test. Lukien Von Tespe, owned by Jo Handman, calmed his nerves to show lots of talent for the future. Instrumental Coldplay and Adele tracks suited his elegant paces, the pair finished on a score of 63.13%.
Shoulder in right followed by shoulder in left on the centre line made for a bold entry for Sara-Jane Lanning and Mi Amigo, a 17.2hh son of Zardin Firfod. The well-matched duo maintained an uphill frame and steady contact throughout their challenging floorplan. Clean changes on a circle and huge extended canters wowed the crowd and contributed to a great score of 68.58%. ‘I loved the dynamic, difficult choreography and inventive floorplan as well as the powerful extensions. Overall Sara-Jane did a fantastic job with the lovely elegant horse’ Isobel enthused.
The impressive silhouette of Carbo with Julie Giner in the saddle thrilled the audience at Hartpury as they performed their routine to pop themed music including Pharrell Williams’ chart topping tune Happy. Powerful trot extensions were a highlight with the nine-year-old showing great ground cover and freedom in his shoulder. Isobel said, ‘unfortunately there were some mistakes today but as a model the horse looks great for the future and I’m sure she will gain much experience from this.’ Julie and Carbo earned 65.83%.
Riding to an instrumental version of One Republic’s Counting Stars, Charlie Hutton and Keith Taylor’s Seagry Sanay performed a test of sublime harmony to gain 69.21% and fourth place. The black gelding showed off his three impressive paces under the expert guidance of Charlie. The canter pirouettes were small and neat, all of the work was carried out with a light contact and the poll was always at the highest point. ‘Charlie did a super test, Seagry Sanay is a really elegant horse not being pushed out of his natural gaits. That was very well suited music and the choreography was interesting too. Overall the frame was very nice, Charlie showed us a great freestyle.’
Nikki Barker and Viv Gleave’s imposing stallion Durable are always a popular combination with the crowds and tonight was no exception. A perfectly immobile first halt set precedence for their immaculate test ridden to funky pop music. Long, sweeping lines of lateral work dominated a canter tour that was only hampered by a small mistake in the four time changes. Isobel expected good marks for Nikki as she praised, ‘my goodness what a powerhouse of a horse! I was pleased to judge this as a four year old and now to see it as a power horse for the future is great, Nikki is such an experienced rider. The relaxation in the walk is impressive and overall he’s very elastic.’ Nikki and ‘Danny’ finished as eventual runner up with a brilliant 70.71%.
Paired with exciting, filmic music, Victoria Peace’s Branduardi (Breitling W x Weltmeyer) and Amy Woodhead impressed the panel of judges to place third with a score 70.00%. High quality half passes in trot were mirrored in the canter work with the stallion showing his great potential. The tempi changes were neat and expressive ridden smartly by Amy on tricky curved lines. It is interesting to note that Amy chose to present in a simple snaffle bridle. ‘There were some real highlights in the canter - the half passes and the extended canter were beautifully shown. The pirouettes could’ve been slightly better but Amy rides beautifully and the horse is clearly very happy. He’s a super type, always out nicely to the bit with a great contact and connection. It was a lovely test with stirring music’ Isobel reflected.
Charlotte Dujardin once again didn’t fail to impress with Sarah Tyler-Evans super mare River Rise Escarla. Despite admitting to not having a Prix St Georges freestyle programme and making it up as she went along the duo were on top form! A small mistake in the four tempi changes was the only major issue in their outstanding routine; the highlights were active extensions, tight and balanced half pirouettes and elastic lateral work. ‘Charlotte is always on the top of her game, she’s done it again tonight. There will be many high marks but it wasn’t quite a clear round. She showed great connection, expression and balance. Charlotte won’t be afraid to admit that she was making that up! It’s a wonderful combination, the horse has lots of energy and power – It may not be a world record but it will be a great result!’ predicted Isobel Wessels.
Penultimate rider Emma Jablonski and her own Cor IV presented an enjoyable routine to pop themed music. Their floorplan was particularly interesting with the canter work split between the first and last minutes of the test. The elegant black gelding showed lovely trot and canter extensions highlighted by the music, Isobel said ‘The horse showed some very nice parts where good training was highlighted, he was a little tight in the topline but Emma rode through the difficult bits. The choreography was interesting and the music was nice too.’ Their score on this occasion was a respectable 65.33%.
The final rider to go up the centre line was Sarah Rao with the 15-year-old Waldessarini. Sarah is aiming for the Asian Games at the end of this year. Their test started with extended canter from the first halt, unfortunately a communication issue put pay to one of the canter pirouettes but the trot work was truly a highlight. ‘Overall it’s a lovely horse and the partnership is very secure. The test tonight needed more energy, the trot work was beautiful.’
With the top three confirmed as Charlotte Dujardin, Nikki Barker and Amy Woodhead it was on to another prize giving for the reigning Olympic champion. Speaking about her win Charlotte said, ‘I’m going to say it how it is… I just made that up as I went along! It was an Inter I music, Carl said I wouldn’t be able to make it work but I said I’ve got no choice I’m just going to have to improvise! The trot work stayed the same but I had to change the canter, I bluffed my way around there. I honestly cantered around the car park thinking about what I could do, people were looking at me thinking I was crazy! Every freestyle I do is unprepared, it’ the story of my life!’
About River Rise Escarla Charlotte added, ‘I’m really happy with her, she’s only done three Prix St Georges tests so she’s super green at the level, it was a huge ask for her.’ A lot of the horses in the Magic Prix St Georges class were challenged by the electric atmosphere in the NAF arena but ‘Maisie’ wasn’t fazed, ‘there’s so much movement in the arena, I put an ear hood on her and it seemed to work’ Charlotte concluded.
Tonight’s Gala Performance will see the Superflex Inter I Freestyle play out under the lights of Hartpury, tickets are available to buy on the door for only £16. Don’t miss the chance to watch some of Great Britain’s brightest future stars battle it out for the title.