Super Sadie wins Superflex Inter I Freestyle
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In front of a packed house last night in the NAF Five Star Arena, Sadie Smith and Keystone Dynamite (pictured) won the Superflex Intermediate I Freestyle in emphatic style. The stylish combination was awarded a total percentage score of 75.38% from judges Brenda Minor (E), Nick Burton (C) and Jo Graham (M).
First to go was Emma Jablonski with her black gelding Cor IV Z. The pair performed an attention-grabbing routine to Earth, Wind and Fire, Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars, showing a nice frame and some lovely, expressive canter work to score 67.08%. Once again the evening feature class was accompanied by a synopsis of each performance by Grand Prix rider and FEI 5* Judge Isobel Wessels. Talking about Emma’s test she said; “The horse was a little nervous but Emma managed him well. The highlights were the flying changes. It was a nice routine in the canter and dividing up the pirouettes worked well.”
Next up was Paul Friday and the good-looking stallion Romanno Rafiel. To their Phil Collins soundtrack they showed some intricate trot work including half circles moving seamlessly into half pass the opposite way and powerful extensions. The horse dropped behind the leg a little in the first pirouette but the canter showed much potential. They were awarded 68.88%. “It was an uplifting programme,” commented Isobel. “The music suited the horse and I particularly liked the music for the trot [Phil Collins’ Easy Lover]. The canter work was quite difficult but overall it was a very positive performance.”
Helen Dutton and Valdorama D, her bay son of Flemmingh, presented some powerful work to emotive music. There was some loss of balance in the right pirouette, but some lovely highlights including well executed three-times on the centre, turning onto the diagonal. The earned a score of 65.17%. “I could see at the beginning that the horse was a little nervous but she sat quietly and did a good job,” said Isobel. “He looks an honest and genuine horse and was well ridden. And it was lovely music.”
Shaun O’Sullivan followed partnered by Yuri Jinno’s good-looking 11-year-old Oldencraig Choice (Dayano x El Corona). The pair earned a percentage score of 62.29%. “He’s a beautiful horse and there was some very nice riding,” commented Isobel. “He rides very nicely…well done.”
Entering next – Tania Grantham and Samarino. Starting in walk; walk pirouette left, then into canter accompanied by light, piano music, the pair performed an enthusiastic test though the horse showed some tension and made some expensive mistakes for 63.88%. “I thought it was really good music, that last note into halt was quite magical,” said Isobel. “Overall it was very interesting but the horse got quite nervous and made some mistakes. It was a shame about the mistake in the pirouette, but it was an unusual and good performance.”
Nicola Buchanan and Half Moon Dark Magic, a good-looking liver chestnut son of Dimaggio, made an impression the moment they entered the arena. An instrumental adaptation of Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black accompanied powerful and easy half passes and extensions. The canter work was confident and secure with beautifully-centred pirouettes. Nicola and nine-year-old Dark Magic look an exciting combination. “Nicola’s one of our best riders and this test was super!” enthused Isobel. “The music fitted the horse, it was powerful and well prepared. The horse was a little nervous but Nicola handled it so well, and the horse shone!” The pair took the competition to a new level with a fantastic 73.58%.
The elegant partnership of Ann Staines and Royal Standard, a 15-year-old son of Rubin Royal, delivered a stylish performance to music that perfectly suited the horse’s athletic movement and demeanour. They had a costly mistake in the three-times but Ann had really upped the ante with the degree of difficulty incorporating a final centre line of two-time changes to a canter pirouette left to finish. They scored 65.04%. “It was a very difficult programme but the music really suited the horse. There were some mistakes but that’s a risk you take. Well done Ann.”
Last to go before the first break, Nikki Barker and Forever Young, provided an oriental feel performing expressive work to their Hans Zimmer Kung Fu Panda soundtrack to earn a score of 69.21%.The elegant pair’s tempi changes were uphill, their extensions super powerful. “That was really interesting,” said Isobel. “It reminded me of the music Nikki used with her mare [Pasoa]. The floorplan was interesting, the two-times and three-times very expressive and I particularly liked the extended trot.”
Luis Principe and Le Docteur posted a solid score of 70.67% for their test to a powerful Dr Who themed routine. The pair delivered a technically demanding programme which featured extended canters to pirouettes. “It was really super music for this horse,” remarked Isobel. “A very nice freestyle with an interesting floorplan. I liked that he was brave and did extended canter to pirouette. This is something that’s often seen at Grand Prix.”
Amy Woodhead and Branduardi followed. The Breitling W x Weltmeyer stallion performed a captivating freestyle. The trot work was powerful, yet beautifully light, the horse in a beautiful frame throughout. The canter work featured super changes, balance and expression, the test overall showing the qualities of top training. “I thought it was better than last night [the pair competed in the Magic Prix St Georges Freestyle]. One pirouette was large, but the performance was lovely. The flying changes and half passes were very good. He’s a lovely horse very nicely ridden. She did a great job.”
The partnership of Nathalie Kayal and DHI Homerun rode to emotive music. Their complex floorplan included canter half passes to well-centred pirouettes, three-time and two-time changes on a turn, and extended canter from the diagonal onto the centre line to finish. “I thought that was a really super freestyle,” said Isobel. “It was very inventive and Nathalie is one of our up and coming stars. We’re waiting for her to break through to Grand Prix level.”
The first off in the final group was Sadie Smith and her Dimaggio son Keystone Dynamite. Riding to music from Kingsman, the pair delivered an awesome test for 75.38%. The half passes were expressive covering much ground, and the powerful extended trots were breathtakingly off the floor. With all that energy, Sadie nonetheless has supreme control which was shown so well with beautifully uphill extended canters into pirouettes and three- and two-tempis on a curve. “It was a really superb test. Very on-point with the music, showing the extensions where the music came strong, with beautiful flying changes and half passes,” commented Isobel.
Entering to the unmistakable sound of Tinie Tempah, Hannah Biggs and Don Caledonia rode a cracking test to earn 71.33%. It was an assured performance with exciting highlights, showing off the floor canter half passes and tempi changes on a turn. Fabulous to watch, the horse was good in the frame throughout and looked to be loving every minute. “It was very unusual, but so different it was special,” said Isobel. “Hannah did an amazing job! The only thing I would have done is show that amazing extended walk closer to the judges. It [the performance] was very untraditional. Let’s watch this space…!”
The penultimate combination was Jayden Brown and Mount St John De La Beaute. A dramatic entry to Pirates of the Caribbean, preceded a performance that showed off the mare’s obvious potential. She is powerful and light footed, almost balletic in her movement. “Jayden is very competent at the higher levels, not just with the young horses. The horse is very elastic with a lot of power. Technically she could have been in more self-carriage and be a bit more under from behind. This is a mare and she has the body of a mare, so it could take her a bit longer, but there’s lots of expression and power.” They scored 71.50%.
The last competitor was Charlie Hutton with the Stedinger-sired mare Seagry Sanay. Riding to an Annie Lennox compilation, the pair showed much potential but the mare is still a little green at the level. They posted a score of 67.67%. “It was a very inventive floorplan,” said Isobel. “The horse looked a little tired tonight and she’s very inexperienced, but she’s such an elegant horse. Charlie did a good job. The horse has a bright future.”
And so, the final 1-2-3 was Sadie Smith, Nicola Buchanan and Jayden Brown. Sadie proudly led the trio in for the presentation in front of an enthusiastic crowd. The twenty-eight-year-old who’d won the previous day’s Superflex Intermediate I Gold was clearly exhilarated and moved to take the coveted Freestyle title. “I don’t know what to say,” said an emotional Sadie. “I’m so overwhelmed.”
“Carl [Hester] said ‘make sure you do what you did yesterday’ so I did, and he was amazing. He got a bit hot in my twos but there were no mistakes and it fitted well to my music. He was proper going for it. He has an amazing extended trot – he just loves doing it, and I was really pleased with the changes and the pirouettes. He can be sharp but I thought I’d try to and make it as hard as I can.
“I’ve had so much success on other horses but do this on him is very special. This means so much to me and he’s a different horse - he used to be nervous but he’s now so much more trusting."
Sadie clearly thinks the world of ‘Mambo’, as he’s known; “He never would have coped with this before so it shows how much more trusting he is. He’s the first horse I’ve trained up towards Grand Prix and I’m so lucky to own him. He’s taught me to ride…and he’s taught me patience.”
“I love this show,” she added. “The atmosphere here, as much as it’s sometimes too much for the horses, is amazing. And it’s a very social show – I love it.”
Next stop for Sadie and Mambo will be a couple of internationals in the UK and continuation of their journey to Grand Prix.