Sandy Phillips became 2006 National Dressage Champion at the Blue Waters National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh Park Warwickshire on Sunday. Aboard Lara 106, Phillips gained the highest combined scores from the grand prix and grand prix freestyle to become National Champion for the first time.

Sandy Phillips has competed at four World Equestrian Games including Aachen 2006, one Olympics and one European Championships for Britain and America. Earlier this year she resigned as a British selector to concentrate on competing with Lara 106.

In yesterday’s competition the pair won the grand prix and finished second in the grand prix freestyle after a close-fought competition with Spencer Wilton and Dolendo. “It was neck-and-neck,” commented international judge Stephen Clarke, “Spencer’s freestyle was more harmonious, but Lara showed more suppleness and expression.”

Wilton’s 73% Grand Prix Freestyle victory with the 17.1hh Donnerhall came as a bit of a shock, “I was surprised to win the freestyle as we made a mistake in the one-time tempis, but I did have room in test to have another go, which would have improved our mark slightly,” he said. Today the pair is off to contest their first overseas competition, boasted by the knowledge they were just two percent away from winning the title of National Dressage Champion.

Sandy Phillips also made a mistake in the Grand Prix Freestyle. The 12-year-old Lara mistook her rider’s aid to go from passage to a trot half-pass for a canter aid. But her winning performance this weekend has been clocked by senior team selector and judge David Trott. “Lara has the potential to be a high-scoring international horse,” he said. Phillips’ prize included a two-week holiday to Blue Waters Hotel in Antigua.

Jessica Dunn won the Biotal Equine Gold Medium Restricted Championships with Dunn to A T while Jo Lees took the NFU Mutual Preliminary Championships with five-year old sir Nario. Four-year-old Showmaker, ridden by Garry Williams took the four-year-old section of the Pavo Potential International Dressage Horse Championships and then went on to become overall champion.

The day also saw an emotional farewell to one of British dressage’s star performers. As Emile Faurie finished his grand prix freestyle test and before leaving the arena it was announced that 15-year-old Rascher Hopes (owned by Leonie Porter and Hilary Sawyer) is to be retired. Rascher Hopes (otherwise known as Streaky) was a member of the British team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and represented Britain at the 2001 European Championships, 2002 World Equestrian Games and won team bronze at the 2003 Europeans at Hickstead.

Faurie, who finished fourth on 70.85% with Rasher Hopes in the grand prix freestyle, said: “It is nice to go out on a high. He is the smallest horse with the biggest heart and has been a wonderful ambassador for British dressage.”

Visit www.bdchampionships.co.uk for full results and audio interviews with all the champions.