Hannah Esberger-Shepherd and her five-year-old Dutch-bred gelding Noblesse were the clear winners of the four and five-year-old sections of the 2000 Equilibra Challenge, taking home a prize-fund of £7,000.

Judged on a combination of talent, training and correct way of going the three judges – Jan Peeters, Ghislain Fourage and Dr Dieter Schule – were unanimous in choosing their winner after 16 horses performed two tests with Noblesse being the horse who achieved the highest accumulative mark in a top class field.

The four-year-olds competed in prelim 14, followed by a four-minute freestyle test, while the five-year-olds took part in novice 32 followed by the freestyle, with marksdeducted if movements above elementary level were shown.

Jan Peeters commented on the format, sayinf:”In my opinion the freestyle can be too much for young horses as many of the movements in this kind of test belong to grand prix level. However, today it was nice to see the riders using the music to help ride to a good rhythm.”Hannah Esberger and Noblesse, who were placed second in the Prevac Pro Potential International Dressage Horse Championships at this year’s national championships, will now go on to the Olympic Training Squad in preparation for Athens 2004.

The 1,500 audience were treated to a packed programme which included a demonstration by Olympic team silver-medallist Ellen Bontje with the stallions Rubioso N and Rubin Star for the Im Niedern stud and a record price of £85,000 paid for a German-bred three year old stallion High-Fashion.

Full results

1, Noblesse (Hannah Esberger-Shepherd) 182%

1, Equilibra Niky (Alice Wilson) 167%

3, Remember Me (David Hunt) 166%

4, Woodlander Remani (Cath Creamer) 155%

5, Hofnar Navarone (Lisa Hopkins) 152%

6, Odin (Hannah Esberger Shepherd) 149%

7, Fuego’s Flash Dragon (Daniel Sherriff) 147%

8, Lauder (Helen Taylor) 141%

9, Neckar (Chloe Robson) 139%

=10, Olandi (Markus Bauer) 137%

=10, Latent (Pauline Rich) 137%

=13, Woodlander Winona (Paul Friday) 121 %

=13, Niels (Jo Turner) 121%

15, Meteor (Aiden Millham) 120%

16, Chesterfield HS (Helen Taylor) 116%