Charlotte Dujardin wowed the crowds on day four of the NAF Five Star Dressage Winter Championships to carry off the British Horse Feeds advanced medium open championship. Riding the relatively inexperienced Don Archie (pictured right), Charlotte produced a stylish and accurate test to win with 74.12%.
“He’s a bit of a worrier, but he really stayed with me,” said Charlotte, who hopes to bring the Dimaggio-sired eight-year-old out at grand prix next year. Jo Hamilton rode an elegant test with Dutch-bred gelding Vivaldi V to take runners-up spot on 70.35%.
Michael Eilberg retained his championship title in a hotly-contested Superflex intermediate I freestyle, winning with Woodlander Dornroeschen this time after last year’s victory on Torino. The Dimaggio-sired mare, distracted a little by being brought into season in readiness for embryo transfer, nevertheless scored 73.58%.
“She has been at this level for a year but she’s going from strength to strength,” said Michael, who finished a whisker ahead of Sophie Wells and Pinocchio. Hayley Watson-Greaves was third on 71.04% with WG Rubins Nite, an eight-year-old son of Rubin Royal.
Matt Hicks claimed his first-ever championship title, taking the Spillers medium music class with El Zorro. The pair produced a powerful performance to a swing compilation, taking an early lead with an impressive 78.23% — despite the fact that El Zorro has an aversion to noise.
“He used to be unhappy even when the radio was playing,” explained Matt, who has been riding a lot of tests to music to help desensitise the athletic 17hh gelding.
Event rider Darren Kaye took the KBIS British Equestrian prelim championship with This Time Next Year, Eleanor Tupenny’s Sir Donnerhall gelding. Their 71.97% score was the only one to break the 70% barrier.
“He’s on the short-tempered side, but he is a bit special,” admitted Darren. “I thought we stood a good chance.”
Petplan Equine novice restricted winner Evelyn Little was more accustomed to riding Thoroughbreds before taking up dressage a year ago. Riding the talented Dutchbred gelding Bindro T, she headed a competitive final on 71.77%. Emerging from a high-spirited prize-giving, she said: “We found a few more gears tucked away in there — he was pinging!”
Frances Meier, who headed the Petplan Equine medium open with 66.82%, returned to the saddle just three weeks ago after being bucked off by her feisty black gelding Rockefeller IV in January.
“My trainer, Kate Cowell, kept him ticking over,” said Frances, who cracked three vertebrae in the accident. “I can hardly sit to the trot”.
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Full report on the NAF Five Star British Dressage Winter Championships will be published in Horse & Hound (26 April, 2012)