‘Eddie’ Eagle swoops to gala night victory: ‘he tried his heart out in there’

Katie Bailey was speechless with delight after her gala night victory in the Magic prix st georges freestyle gold championship.

Katie partnered Hannah Douvey’s Eagle Nouvelle (“Eddie”) to win the 15-strong class at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships at Hartpury on 5 April.

This was the first time Katie has ridden to the music, which was put together by Tom Hunt, and the harmonius test was rewarded with a mark of 73.71% from judges Mary Anne Horn, Peter Storr and Claudia Haller.

A smart performance from Becky Moody and Full Fusion BS to variations on the Sherlock soundtrack came close to securing the title, but for the second time today they were edged into second by a fraction of a penalty.

Katie said she was “thrilled” with the horse, whose canter and trot half-passes stood out as real highlights.

“He felt a little tired at the beginning but there were no mistakes,” said Katie.

“He is quite a tense horse so I think he has coped really well here with the atmosphere. It is nice he is not spooky and he tries so hard, which is lovely — he tried his heart out in there.”

The 10-year-old gelding, by Singapore, looked totally focused on his rider and the job in hand as the pair produced a clean test to a magical soundtrack.

“He is really talented, especially in movements such as his pirouettes — I hadn’t quite got the right [handed] one in the past two tests and I got it today, so I was really thrilled.”

Sara-Jane Lanning and her own Mi Amigo held the lead for much of the evening before finishing third behind Katie and Becky on 71.25%.

Alice Oppenheimer took her 14th national title aboard her homebred star mare Headmore Davina in the Superflex inter I gold class.

The pair, who were drawn last to go, followed up on their success in Thursday’s Magic PSG gold championship with a flowing test to score 72.72%, edging the win over second placed Nikki Barker and Durable.

“I was worried after yesterday as I was on my 13th title and I thought it might be unlucky, but Davina sorted that out for me,” she laughed.

“She is such a quality mare and Erik Theilgaard helped me warm up today, he was really helpful, the canter work felt unreal. I think there’s still more marks to be had in the trot as she gets stronger and a bit more confident, but the pirouettes I had in there today — she’s just so talented.”

The pair also picked up fourth in the PSG freestyle gold.

Meanwhile, Charlotte Dujardin and the stunning five-year-old MSJ Charmer took the Blue Chip novice gold title on a huge score of 77.96%, with Becky Moody and James Bond just 0.06% behind.

This was Charlotte’s second ever test on “Cookie”, who she bought as a foal from Emma Blundell and co-owns with Verity Jenner.

“I was just hoping to go in and give him a good ride in there because it is a lot for even an advanced horse to take in, let alone a young one,” said Charlotte, explaining Rob Barker rode and competed the son of Charmeur.

“He went in there and went a little green on me but he tried really, really hard — for a five-year-old I couldn’t have asked for much more.

“He really felt like although he was green he tried, I could feel he was looking to me as if to help him and he let me do that.”

Charlotte was also entered in the small tour classes with Mount St John VIP, who triumphed at Keysoe, but withdrew after the mare became cast.

Charlotte said thankfully the mare will be fine and will now carry out some breeding duties with the plan to aim her for an international later this year.

“[It was] really unfortunate, she went to Keysoe doing so well and I was ready for here,” she added.

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Keri Bates’ Nupafeed advanced medium freestyle silver triumph was made all the more remarkable as her winning ride EKKO Christianslund Gevalia has spent a spell on the sidelines due to a hairline splint fracture.

Through careful rehabilitation, in consultation with her vet, Keri has brought the 12-year-old mare back to fitness.

The pair impressed the judges, riding to a soundtrack of music from several films, to win by a clear margin on a score of 74.11%.

“I came to get a nice picture and not come last, but the moment I did my second extended trot, I was quite surprised and thought hang on, she’s going for it here,” said Keri. “It felt brilliant and we matched out score at regionals.”

The long trip from Grimsby proved worthwhile for Jennifer Martell, who took the Theraplate UK medium silver championship with Jane Guyton’s Eiderstan.

The pair, who are based and train with Amy Woodhead, topped the section on a score of 74.41%.

“Yesterday he was very tense, but today he let me in and let me ride him and he gave me everything,” said Jennifer, who studied at Hartpury and was part of the prestigious academy during her time as a student.

“Whatever I asked of him, he gave me more.”

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