Becky Edwards edged ahead of her more senior rivals to head Friday night’s Magic prix st georges (PSG) freestyle championship (8 April).
The 19-year-old rode a fluid, expressive test with the Dimaggio son Don Archie to post 72.33%, securing victory over runners-up Nathalie Kayal and DHI Bravo.
“I couldn’t have asked for more tonight – I went in there to ride more of a schooling round, and it was the first time I’d ever ridden that floorplan so I was a bit scared,” said Becky, who took her inter I ride Ufano in for the lap of honour as Archie doesn’t like prize-givings.
“In a test Archie can often get strong and take over, but he really let me ride him tonight,” said Becky of the powerful 12-year-old, whom she bought from Carl Hester a year ago.
Nathalie Kayal was over the moon with the progress her striking iron grey gelding, DHI Bravo, has made over the past 12 months. The pair pulled off an accurate, mistake-free test, despite Bravo only having competed at PSG since November.
“Last year he was here at the winter championships doing the elementary, and it wasn’t his best, so for him to come in and cope so well with the atmosphere tonight was amazing,” said Nathalie, who puts together her music and choreography herself.
“When he is more relaxed he will show more expression, and I hope we can come back next year and go one better.”
Tahley Reeve Smith was surprised to slot into third with the hugely expressive Sandro Hit 13-year-old, Special, who posted just shy of 70%.
“I didn’t think I had been placed – I’d put him away, and he’d rolled!” laughed Tahley, who also secured the novice open freestyle title yesterday with Sharola Show Star.
Tahley and Special produced a powerful, classy test, marred only by a couple of missed changes: “If only it had come off like it does at home,” rued Tahley. “I am so pleased with him though – only last week we re-jigged the floorplan to make it a little more difficult, and we re-did the music.”
For a full report from the British Dressage NAF Five Star Winter Championships and the Petplan Equine Area Festival Final pick up a copy of Horse & Hound on Thursday, 14 April.