‘I went round with massive grin on my face’: Headmore Dionysus dances to Cats to secure victory

  • Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus were the easy victors of the freestyle prix st georges gold class on day two of the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships. They scored 77.95% to a Cats medley, finishing over 2.5% clear of their nearest rivals.

    “He was unreal – he is such a cool horse and a little shaman that loves his music,” said Alice. “He warmed up nicely and then when we were going around the outside of the arena before our test, I thought he felt good. Then his music started, and although he’s only 16hh, it lit him up and I felt him grow – it was as if he said ‘that’s my music!’.”

    Alice was visibly delighted with how Headmore Dionysus had performed.

    “I went round with massive grin on my face – he just he just loved it and I loved it. He was an absolute joy to ride.”

    Fenella Quinn made the long trip from her base in Scotland worthwhile, finishing second on Empire B on a score of 75.2%.

    Wilson has a positive and winning experience

    Jessica McConkey has put training with Anne van Olst and Lottie Fry at the Van Olst stables in Holland, plus more recent training with Paul Fielder in the UK, into good use when taking pole position in the advanced medium silver with Wilson Stensvang on 72.19%.

    “I was really pleased with how relaxed he was,” said Jessica, who is long listed for the British young rider squad with ‘Wilson’. “He hasn’t done that many big shows, but each time he goes out, he’s getting more confident, and I was particularly pleased with his changes today, which are always a highlight for him.”

    Jessica was most keen for Wilson to have a “positive experience”.

    “We’re training at prix st georges level at home because we’re campaigning for young riders, so actually bringing him here and doing an easier test was good, because I could just give him a relaxed time with no pressure.”

    Jessica has now set up her own yard at home in south Oxfordshire.

    “I’m just trying to build up a bit of a client base now starting out on my own – it is tough, but we’re giving it a go.”

    ‘I’m so lucky to have a horse like him’

    Anne-Marie Cowan and the six-year-old Lumière L were convincing winners of the elementary freestyle gold championship, taking the class on 75.12%, which was almost 2% clear of second placed Bridget Tate and Dancing Magic.

    “I was absolutely thrilled with him – this horse is something else,” said Anne-Marie. “I’m so lucky to be able to have a horse like him and he’s now been here, done it all before and read the book and he is at that stage now where I can point him, keep my leg on and he knows what to do.”

    The duo were seventh in the novice freestyle gold championship yesterday (13 April), but Anne-Marie said he learnt from that experience.

    “Yesterday he was a little bit tense in the atmosphere but he learned from it and he had more confidence today and he was just brilliant.”

    Anne-Marie, who trains with Carl Hester, came by Lumière by way of a swap three years ago.

    “I had a big, big Dutch mare that just grew too big for me and was was so incredibly hot to ride,” explains Anne-Marie. “So I sent her to my friend in Holland to sell, who then called me to say she had fallen in love with her and that she might have a horse that would suit me. So she asked me if I wanted to do a swap and the rest is history!”

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