There is no doubt that every class at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships is competitive. But the Prestige Italia novice gold championship (29 June) took the meaning of fierce to a new level, with the top 14 combinations all posting +70% scores.
Charlotte Dujardin and Times Kismet, who she has previously flagged to H&H as a mare who is “going to be another Freestyle”, topped the section on 79.01%.
Sadie Smith and the six-year-old Swanmore Dantina claimed the runner-up spot on 76.98%. The Dante Weltino x Charatin mare was also the best British-bred in the class.
“She was so good. I didn’t even do the arena walk. It’s the first nationals I’ve done with her, so I was really chuffed – we’re getting closer to Charlotte,” said Sadie.
“I bought her as a three-year-old. Ben St John-James that I used to work for bred her. She was initially bred for one of my friends to have and ride. When she was three, they decided that she was a bit too big for her, bit too much horse. I was looking for one at the time, so I bought her from them.
“I actually produced her to sell originally, but the older she’s got the better she’s got and she’s got the most amazing trainable attitude, and I just love that about her.
“Every show she goes to, she’s the same. She never spooks, never does anything [wrong], she’s just a really talented, lovely horse. I really enjoy competing her so I thought ‘you can stay’.”
She added: “Her canter was really good because she’s got a really balanced, uphill canter, and she always makes a nice picture. She’s very open in the frame. It’s nice to have a horse where you can go in and feel like you can actually just ride the test rather than worrying.
“I work for [Carl and Charlotte] so it was great as they help me. Carl loves her and he was really pleased with my test today, so for me, that means more than anything that I’m on the right track.”
Third went to Mark Forrest and the seven-year-old Francesco S (Fürstenball x San Remo), owned by Cara Sweeney, on 75.25%.
“We’ve done a bit of a blitz, to get qualified and get here and today was the best he’s gone. He gets quite anxious. So we had to take him to a few shows, but he was quite brave today,” said Mark, adding the horse seemed to like Hartpury’s indoor arena.
“The four o’clock start this morning was really worth it. He is the most beautiful horse in the world. He is absolutely stunning and he’s got three fantastic paces.”
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