Nip Tuck’s former rider takes the win in hotly contested class at Winter Dressage Championships

  • Katie Bailey continued her recent form with Hannah Dovey and Verity Jenner’s nine-year-old gelding Escomond to win the Equitex Advanced Medium Gold Winter Championship on 73.07% at the 2024 NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships – less than 1% ahead of Becky Moody and Magic Dream who finished second on 72.41%.

    “It was a hot class so I’m really pleased,” said Katie following her prize-giving. “He’s not done that much, so competition-wise this was quite the experience.

    “At a championship, you always want a clean test, so I was conscious of that, but I was able to take more risks in the trot work and ask for a bit more power – there’s still a lot more in there though.

    “He was bred by Verity so it’s so nice she’s still involved with him – she was welling up a bit when I went into my test.”

    Like fellow competitors Sadie Smith and Amy Woodhead, Katie kickstarted her dressage career riding for Carl Hester – a gig she got after her mum spotted an advert in Horse & Hound. Katie competed Carl’s late Olympic silver medallist Nip Tuck during the early stages of his career, taking him up the levels to prix st georges (PSG).

    She also produced and competed Spencer Wilton’s Super Nova, who was on that silver medal-winning team in Rio alongside Nip Tuck – putting Katie in the unique position of having helped to develop half of the 2016 Olympic team.

    Katie and Escomond will be back in action tomorrow (14 April) to contest the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle and Horselight Medium Gold Winter Championships.

    2024 Winter Dressage Championships: “We were all in tears”

    Alys Matravers and Kari Christopher’s Vorvashill Vertigo edged yet another tight contest in the Prestige Novice Silver Winter Championships – winning on 69.87%, just ahead of Jordan Kavanagh and Flashdance GH in second on 69.75%.

    “I can’t quite believe it,” said Alys, “we’d hoped to squeeze into the top 10 but to come out on top was unbelievable – we were in tears, all of us.”

    The 13-year-old British-bred stallion balances his dressage with stud work and eventing up to BE100.

    “He does hate getting trapped in warm-ups and other horses getting too close to him, but otherwise he’ll give anything a go until it gets boring and then we have to mix it up.

    “He will start covering again next month and we cut down on his competing while he’s doing that but he’s showing quite good potential to go up the levels.”

    Alex Heaton and the six-year-old Irish Sport Horse Cosmopolitan du Rouet won the first Winter Area Festival Championship of the day, convincingly claiming the preliminary bronze on a personal best score of 72.92%.

    In a class with 46 starters, Alex was third to go and had a mammoth wait to see if she’d won. “We’ve just been shopping, eating, enjoying our day,” she said. “The more people that were going through the more I thought ‘maybe I’ve got it in the bag’ but there was no stress.”

    Alex bought Cosmopolitan du Rouet as an unbacked three-year-old: “I backed him myself but then I found out I was pregnant so I turned him away and brought him back into work about a year and a half ago.

    My trainer Laura Rowe has helped massively and we’ve been doing a bit of everything ever since. This was his first championship but he took it like a pro – I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

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