Winter Dressage Championships: a ‘princess’, freestyle magic and a ‘dream come true’ *H&H Plus*

  • Two riders score their first national titles, while the legacy of an outstanding British broodmare lives on as her offspring claim yet more national titles at Hartpury...

    Alice Oppenheimer followed up yesterday’s NAF Five Star Winter Championships win on Headmore Dionysius with victory today on his half-sister, Headmore Bella Ruby, in the Magic PSG freestyle gold winter championship class.

    Both horses were bred by Alice’s mother Sarah out of their outstanding mare Rubensteena; Bella is by Belissimo M, whereas “Dillon”’s sire is Dimaggio.

    Alice and Bella scored 73.67% to top a very competitive section, with Andrew Gould and Genie 1 second on 73.17%.

    Alice said: “Bella is, as everyone knows, the apple of my eye – she’s Princess Bella.

    “I love that mare; from the first moment I sat on her when she was first backed as a four-year-old, I said to Mum that there was something really special about her. She’s got an amazing work ethic. She’s a very hot mare and yesterday that worked against me and we had some uncharacteristic mistakes, and so I was a little bit disappointed – not with her, just that I didn’t get it quite right.

    “But today, she was still hot but I was able to manage it better, and she gave me a really nice ride. It was the first time I had run through that music, which is from Les Miserables. It wouldn’t go with every horse, but it really ‘gets’ Bella, and it’s quite magical to ride too. I’m so pleased my princess has had a win this week!”

    ‘A dream come true’

    Sarah Colborn said that her first national title – the Nupafeed advanced medium freestyle silver championships – was “a dream come true.”

    Riding Furst Love, Sarah, who runs a livery yard in Hampshire, scored 76.17% despite the 10-year-old Oldenburg mare being strongly in-season.

    “That made her very sharp and jumpy – she was a lot better in the indoor arena today than she was yesterday outdoors, because she couldn’t see so many other horses,” said Sarah.

    “I got her when she was a just-backed four-year-old, and I’ve brought her on from there. We started off with the Oppenheimers, who helped me a lot with her, and I’ve since brought her home, and I train with Charlotte Dujardin as well.

    “She’s very good and very bold, but trainable, and when she’s on her game, she’s amazing.”

    The pair enjoyed a smooth passage through their test.

    “Her changes felt really nice and big, her mediums were good. I came out of it really pleased, but you never know whether the judges will agree!” she laughed. “She’s training at PSG and inter at home, so hopefully we can come back at that level next year.”

    ‘Winning this fills me with pride’

    Charlotte Lutener also scored a first national championship success in the Charles Owen advanced medium silver winter final with AB Barroco on a mark of 69.30%.

    “Bertie”, now 11, was bought from Astrid Bolton in 2017, and Charlotte took over the ride on him once she had finished her A levels.

    “He’s got a super personality; he’s quite quirky and takes him time to learn things – some days he’s like, what, I can’t even do a transition – but I just love training him,” said the 21-year-old. “It fills me with pride, winning this today, with all his quirks. I was so pleased with his test – flying changes have been tricky to teach him, so I was very happy to get all my changes in the test as that’s been a challenge for us.”

    He is the first horse that West Yorkshire-based Charlotte has trained and competed from elementary level upwards, and her aim is to train him to compete internationally at small tour over the next couple of years.

    Read more reports from Hartpury…