Tactics, tears, and hat-tricks: 8 memorable moments from the 2022 Winter Dressage Championships

  • The NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships 2022 may have come to an end, but we are still re-living the highlights from a brilliant week at Hartpury. From Charlotte Dujardin showcasing her young stars to a novice winner bursting into tears and a 12-year-old beating the adults, it was a week full of emotions and excitement. Let’s take a look back at just some of the many memorable moments…

    1. Charlotte Dujardin’s winning medium gold test

    Charlotte Dujardin at winter dressage championships on Times Kismet

    Charlotte Dujardin was a triple winner at the Winter Dressage Championships, but it was her third and final performance, in the last class of the week, that was the most impressive. Having already won the Prestige Italia novice gold on Times Mon Amour, and the Equitex advanced medium gold on Times Kismet, in which she admitted she wasn’t riding at full throttle, she brought the quirky seven-year-old Kismet back out to contest the Horselight medium gold, and well and truly let the handbrake off.

    “I didn’t want to play nice,” said Charlotte after her stunning test, which received over 77% from the judges.

    2. Alice Oppenheimer’s Cats freestyle routine

    Winter Dressage Championships

    Alice Oppenheimer is no stranger to winning titles at the Winter Dressage Championships, but few will have brought such a broad grin to her face as her winning magic prix st georges freestyle routine on Headmore Dionysus. She reported afterwards that “Dillon” lit as soon as he heard his music began and the pair truly danced to their toe-tapping Cats medley as they powered their way to victory with 77.96% – the highest mark of the entire championships.

    3. Becky Moody completing the hat-trick

    Winter Dressage Championships Becky Moody

    Becky Moody made everyone sit up with her eight-year-old Dante Weltino gelding Jagerbomb who proved unbeatable in the small tour classes. She completed her hat-trick of wins with him with the Superflex inter I freestyle, cementing his status as a serious one to watch – even if their freestyle didn’t 100% go to plan and Becky had to deploy some quick-thinking tactics. Becky explained that she put the home-bred “Bomber” on the market as a four-year-old, but “luckily I failed to sell him”.

    4. An all-British inter I line-up

    Winter Dressage Championships

    British breeding was shown to be in fine fettle, with the top three horses in the top class of the Winter Dressage Championships 2022, the Superflex inter I, all having been bred here in the UK. Becky Moody (Jagerbomb) and Alice Oppenheimer (Headmore Dionysus) took the top two spots, with Lucinda Elliott and Hawtins Bellegra (pictured) completing the all-British prize-giving. As the Hawtins stud’s Judith Davies said, “the future is certainly bright for breeding in the UK”.

    5. A diminutive 12-year-old beating the adults

    Violet Hawkins at the Winter Dressage Championships

    Violet Hawkins successfully dispatched her older, taller and more experienced rivals when taking the top spot in the KBIS prelim silver championship, riding DZL Royal Sunrise. As Anna Ross pointed out, Violet’s parents may have to tumble dry the winner’s rug a few times to help it fit! Violet, 12, reported that it was one of the best tests she had ever done, and said that her trainer Jayne Turney, as well as Charlotte Dujardin, were her ultimate dressage idols. Violet’s dad revealed that the youngster is multi-talented to boot – she reached the final two in the casting for Matilda in the West End in 2020, until Covid sadly stopped production.

    6. Nikki Barker’s Dan Icarus rewriting history

    NIKKI BARKER - DAN ICARUS at the winter dressage championships 2022

    Nikki Barker won the Nupafeed advanced medium freestyle gold with Dan Icarus, a title that this horse’s sire, Nikki and Viv Gleave’s grand prix stallion Durable, won himself back in 2017. For those who remember that win, this one might have had an element of deja vu to it – Dan Icarus is the spitting image of his father, who he lives next door to at home, and Nikki says that they are very similar to ride, with the same fantastic, level-headed temperament, describing the nine-year-old as “the easiest horse in the world”.

    7. Tracey Lawson scoring a double win after an emotional time


    The 2022 Winter Dressage Championships was certainly an emotional week for Tracey Lawson, winner of the Equitrek elementary silver title and the Prestige Italia novice silver with the nine-year-old QT – the latter with over 77%. Tracey said she rode the first test in memory of her late friend, Kathy Ling, whose birthday it would have been that day. Tracey wore a bracelet of Kathy’s in the ring that day, saying “she was in the arena with me”. She also shared how her horses and dogs have helped her “heal physically and mentally” after a tough couple of years dealing with a traumatic divorce.

    8. Tears on the final centre line


    Nicky Morris was just one of several riders so overwhelmed with pride for their horse and their achievement that they burst into tears on their last centre line – even Charlotte Dujardin admitted to feeling very emotional after her first test on Times Kismet. Baileys Horse Feeds novice silver freestyle winner Nicola, a full-time accountant, explained that her ride, the seven-year-old Headmore Bugatti, had never been in such an atmosphere before and that he “tried his heart out”.

    “I don’t think I’ll find another one like him – he’s got everything and is one in a million,” she added.

    Don’t miss our full report from the 2022 Winter Dressage Championships, out in the 21 April issue of Horse & Hound. 

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