Stars of the future: 8 horses to watch from the winter dressage championships

  • Hundreds of horses took to the Hartpury arenas across 21 finals at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships. Charlotte Dujardin’s young stars might have stolen the show with six titles between them but we round up eight more of the most exciting future prospects from across the levels.

    1. Nutbush

    This scopey six-year-old, known as ‘Gus’, won the Baileys Horse Feeds novice gold freestyle title with the highest score of entire championship — 78.89% — under Carl Hester’s stable jockey Sadie Smith. Gus is owned by Carl, Anne Barrott and Roly Luard, the same trio who own Valegro, and also shares Negro as a sire. He is destined to be Carl’s ride, and with huge, supple paces and a loveable, laid-back attitude, he looks an exciting one for future.

    2. Mount St John De La Beaute

    Formerly ridden for Emma Blundell’s Mount St John stud by Emile Faurie, this 10-year-old Don Romantic mare is now progressing through her small tour career with Jayden Brown. She finished second in the Superflex inter I, despite some green mistakes, and the pair upped their game in the freestyle to score 71.5% for third. The mare has gorgeous paces and goes in a lovely open frame; once she has developed the strength needed to collect and engage a little more, she’ll be a serious prospect.

    3. Bear

    The only combination across the championship to score a double win, other than Sadie Smith and Charlotte Dujardin, was Jodie Pharaon and her super-sweet Belissimo M son Bear, who took the Albion medium silver and Charles Owen advanced medium silver titles. The tall chestnut gelding’s highlights are his half-passes and medium paces, but it’s his temperament that is his standout quality.

    “He’s just such an amenable horse,” said Jodie, who was making the most of her maternity leave.

    4. Headmore Davina

    Alice Oppenheimer was kept busy at Hartpury, riding 11 tests during the week, and of those it was the eight-year-old Dimaggio mare Headmore Davina that came through to give her a long-awaited title in the Nupafeed advanced medium freestyle. This smart mare was amazingly consistent in gold ranks across the five days, also landing a third in the Albion medium, fifth in the Charles Owen advanced medium and sixth in the medium Spillers freestyle.

    5. Durable

    Nikki Barker’s 10-year-old Spielberg stallion powered to second place in both Magic prix st georges (PSG) championships. His greenness at the level showed in a missed change and in the pirouettes, but he has huge paces and showed off fantastically loose half-passes and a relaxed, ground-covering walk.

    6. Goofy La Perle

    This Belissimo M x Jazz seven-year-old gave Jo Barry her first national title since a devastating accident in 2015, in the PDS Saddles elementary freestyle. Gordon Grainger’s gelding displayed maturity beyond his years in his flowing performance, and you’d never have guessed Jo has only had the ride on him for a matter of months.

    “He’s very professional. Whatever issue we have while warming up, big or small, it gets put away when he sees the white boards,” said Jo.

    7. Southern Cross Braemar

    Dannie Morgan went one better than his second place in the Charles Owen advanced medium silver, to take the Nupafeed freestyle equivalent on his own liver chestnut gelding, “Barry”. Dannie, who is also an eventer, has trained this athletic eight-year-old up the levels himself and they continued their upward trajectory by making a winning PSG debut with plus-70% just days after the championships.

    8. Atterupgaards O2

    Another exciting mare from the Mount St John contingent, this seven-year-old is bred in the purple, being by Belissimo M and out of Fiona Bigwood’s Rio team silver medallist Atterupgaards Orthilia. She and Jayden Brown were the bridesmaids of the show, finishing second to Charlotte Dujardin at both elementary and medium, but with scores of 73% and 74% this expressive, elastic mare certainly has a bright future.

    Don’t forget to pick up this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (19 April 2018)  for the full report from the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships, and the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships

    For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday.


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