Gareth Hughes and Korenbloem Sandman beat Damian Hallam and Spirit Freedom for the first time on British soil at the Horse & Hound Winter Championships. Gareth took the Speedi-Beet Advanced Medium with Rebecca Patmore’s eight-year-old gelding.

“As it gets harder he gets sharper,” said Gareth, who went on to win the Biotal Equine Gold Medium Open the following day.

Rebecca, who believes Sandman will go into another league at prix st georges, added: “Sandman’s always breathtaking and although he had some little mistakes in the advanced medium he did enough to make up for that.”

Damian Hallam and Spirit Freedom were slightly off form in the advanced medium, making small but costly mistakes.

“He was fighting off a virus in the lead up to the winters, which we thought he’d shaken off, but with hindsight we shouldn’t have taken him,” explained Damian. “If he underperforms there’s a reason.”

Andrew Gould took two titles — the NAF Prix St Georges Freestyle and the Grange Hotels Intermediaire I Freestyle — in two days with Numero Uno, after not wining a national championship since 2004.

“It’s been a long old wait to get another title,” said Andrew. “Numero Uno’s a big horse (18hh) and takes some balancing. Last year he was still quite weak, but is now much more established.”

Jane Brewin’s Nadonna and Roland Tong took the Equine Herbals Elementary Open in addition to their elementary music win.

Pippa Prideaux’s Geisha and Jackie Stolper carried on where they left of last year, adding the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Music Freestyle to the medium and elementary titles she won in 2005.

“She was brilliant,” said Jackie, who trains with Jennie Loriston-Clarke. “I don’t think she could have gone better.”

Nick Lawson riding Glenys and Phillip Hemmings’ stunning Abbey Tiron took the Blue Chip Feed Balancer Novice Restricted. Bought as a three-year-old from the Brightwells Auction, the son of Jazz has been given time to mature since being placed in the Panacur Final at last year’s national championships.

“He’s amazing to ride — words don’t really do him justice,” said Nick.

Darryl Thickett and Jill Smith’s Gribaldi gelding Rex took the Albion Medium Freestyle.

“He’s become mentally and physically stronger in the past year,” said Darryl, who trains with Richard Davison. “Because he’s a sensitive horse it’s getting easier the higher up the levels we go.”

Charlotte Thompson, 22, took the Horsesense Prelim championship riding the six-year-old Saab, building on their semi-final win.

“He was bought to show jump but didn’t make the grade,” said Charlotte. “At home he can be really spooky, but he’s improving by getting out and doing more.”

Finnish rider Tuula Aer scooped the Equine Herbals Elementary Restricted title with her own Rivaldo II.

“He’s qualified for the summer regionals as well so we’ll probably get out and do some mediums now,” said Tuula.

  • Read the full report on all the action in this week’s Horse & Hound (13 April, ’06)
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