‘Man of the match’ Matt Hicks claimed a second national title aboard El Zorro on the final day of the NAF Five Star Dressage Winter Championships.

Matt and the 17hh Amsterdam son took the Albion medium open with 73.15%, finishing ahead of the hotly-tipped combination of Michael Eilberg and Half Moon Dynasty.

“To win one national dressage title &mdas; let alone two — is a dressage rider’s dream,” said an elated Matt.

The pair also finished second behind Isobel Wessels and Chagall in the Nupafeed advanced medium music. Chagall, claiming the eighth national title of his career, scored an impressive 78.33% in front of an appreciative audience.

A third double winner, Hayley Colwell, headed the Equitop elementary restricted with Zidaane, the talented but tricky Jazz-sired gelding she co-owns with Astrid Bolton.

“I could really go for it this time,” said Blackpool-based Hayley, who achieved 72.71%.

In the Petplan advanced medium open, a stylishly-ridden test by Joanna Thurman-Baker and Highcliffe Apollo caught the judges’ attention and earned their first national title with an impressive 70.59% score.

Kelly Simpson topped the Petplan prelim with Watch Me, the Gribaldi-sired gelding she bought five years ago. Despite being caught in a pre-test downpour, the pair scored 75.91%.

“Our trainer Jackie Bevan has been fantastic,” said Kelly, who juggles her dressage career with teaching, fixing horses’ backs, looking after her young child and helping with the family business.

In the Petplan prix st george, Clare Poole praised a mature performance from her winner Day Dreamer II.

“It all came together,” she said after scoring 67.37% and heading a competitive class with her 17.2hh chestnut gelding. “He has finally realised that performance is the name of the game.”

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Full report on the NAF Five Star British Dressage Winter Championships will be published in Horse & Hound (26 April, 2012)