Former showjumper takes first win of winter dressage championships

Winter Dressage Championships day one: a former showjumper lands a title, while a 17-year-old scores her first big win

Former showjumper Maeve Morris was the first winner of the 2019 NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships yesterday (3 April), landing the Blue Chip novice silver championship aboard her six-year-old Florencio gelding Headmore Footloose with 71.61%.

The six-year-old Florencio gelding belongs to Maeve’s stepmother Nicola who passed on the ride 18 months ago.

“I wasn’t enjoying showjumping, so my stepmum encouraged me to take up dressage and now I love it, but it means I’ve stolen her horse so it hasn’t really worked out too well for her,” laughed Maeve.

“He was bred at Headmore Stud and is kept there so Alice Oppenheimer trains me.”

Maeve fits in riding and competing around her full time property management job in London.

“I fit in riding and competing at the weekend, but he’s such a genuine kind horse that he makes it easy,” added Maeve.

An overjoyed Bethany Edginton, 17, topped the Equi-Trek elementary silver championship with 72.29% riding her Oldenburg gelding Frankel.

First to go in her class of 27, Bethany had a long wait to find out if she’d held on to her lead.

“He’s never won anything like this before, so we’re so excited,” said Bethany who has owned the seven-year-old gelding by Fairbanks for three years. “We didn’t think we had a chance, but he went in and did his job. He’s such a lovely person and more like a big dog than a dressage horse.”

Nikki Barker’s five-year-old Dan Icarus belied his young age, showing poise and maturity to head the Baileys Horse Feeds novice freestyle gold championship with 77.04%. Nikki has produced the gelding from a yearling.

“He’s by my successful stallion Durable out of a Negro mare and is so relaxed,” she said. “He’s literally done a handful of shows but has dealt with the atmosphere here like a total pro.”

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The gelding was bred by Viv Gleave, part owner of Durable, aka Danny.

“Viv has bred a few from Danny now, and I have two of them here [at the championships],” added Nikki. “They are all just like their father and it’s a bit like painting by numbers – now that I know how to ride Danny, I know the formula to his youngsters too.”

Rider and trainer Katharine Lewis steered her beautiful black Friesian stallion Jos K to victory in the Spillers medium freestyle gold championship with 73.22%. Katharine bought Jos as a three-year-old and has produced him herself.

“Considering he’s not your normal dressage type, he can really hold his own and I’m just so chuffed with him,” said Katharine who has enjoyed much success with the horse including four regionals, two summer music titles and now a winter title. “He’s so special to me and I can’t believe I own him.”

The pair will be back on Sunday to contest the TheraPlate UK medium gold winter championship.

Wendy Hudson and Chanel took the last class of the day, the Suregrow elementary freestyle silver championship, with 72.24%.

Horse & Hound has three reporters on the ground at Hartpury; don’t miss the 11 April issue for 12 pages of reports from the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships and the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, and keep up to date with action as it happens here on HorseandHound.co.uk

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