Alice Oppenheimer and Tantoni Sir Soccrates continued their cracking run of form by taking the advanced medium freestyle at Royal Windsor Horse Show yesterday (13 May).
The Sir Donnerhall x White Magic eight-year-old has been on a great run of form recently, picking up international small tour titles in Vidauban, France as well as two titles at the British Dressage winter championships.
However, Alice (mostly) survived a very sticky moment in the prize-giving, which saw the gelding — a former licensed stallion and champion of his grading in 2009 — pull out some impressive airs above the ground that most Spanish Riding School horses would have been envious of.
Alice managed a “tactical dismount” on her lap of honour, as shown below.
The pair scored 76% to secure their eighth winners’ rug of the year.
“We’ve worked really hard to get him used to clapping and noise, but he’s done so many prize-givings lately that he’s got himself wound up again,” said Alice.
“He gets a bit nervous, but he’s athletic and very powerful. The rug didn’t help and I thought I better jump off before I pulled it round his neck and frightened him,” added the Hampshire-based rider.
“The arena and atmosphere at Windsor is a lot for horses to contend with, particularly when they’ve never seen carriage horses, gymkhana ponies and heavy horses. It’s great for our horses, but can be a bit mind-boggling.”
Gloucestershire-based Lucy Cartwright and owner Carole Felton were delighted with Fergana’s second place and a score of 72.88%.
Lucy, a former working pupil of Carl Hester, has ridden the elegant chestnut mare by Fidermark for five years.
“We are really happy with her today,” said Lucy. “She’s come on so much in the month since the winter championships.”
Julie Hugo Ross and the Dutch-bred mare Alivia II were a close third. The pair also impressed the judges with a neat, mistake free test to elegant James Galway flute music that was well suited to the light-footed mare, owned by Julie and Frances White. “It’s music that makes me feel good and smile,” said Julie.
Tonight at 6pm the dressage action continues with the grand prix. The freestyle takes place on Friday evening.