Michael Eilberg rode a smooth and accurate test with his father Ferdi’s Marakov to be crowned the LeMieux national champion for the first time. Riding to music inspired by Transformers, and composed with the help of Tom Hunt, Michael entered the arena less than 1% ahead of reigning champions Carl Hester and Fine Time 13 after the first round.
Carl, who withdrew first-round winner Dances With Wolves yesterday, got the best out of solid performer Fine Time in an impressive and technical test, but it wasn’t enough to knock Michael off the top spot. Spencer Wilton rose three places to finish third with Numberto despite a mistake in the changes, while Nikki Crisp held onto fourth with seasoned campaigner Pasoa.
Michael said: “I’m over the moon. It was an incredible feeling today — going in so tight with Carl there — the test he did today, when he came out no matter what the outcome, I would have been absolutely thrilled with him.
“The whole [test] just flowed. You have those tests every now and then that you can relax into and it just feels like you are riding at home and that’s exactly how it felt today. Everywhere that I needed to be with the music, I was and he did everything I asked.
“I’m incredibly fortunate to have some fantastic horses. Some of the horses I’ve had have been tricky at the start and I’ve had to find ways to get around certain problems, but the potential for a lot of them is to score extremely good marks, so if I can get them where they need to go, then they have a good chance.
“Now I’m going home to have a good celebration. I definitely think we deserve tomorrow off to do something fun! But the horses still need feeding and riding, so we’ll be back to it soon enough.
Don’t miss Horse & Hound (out 25 September) for the full report from the 2014 LeMieux British Dressage National Championships.