Alice Oppenheimer claimed a one-two in the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Gold championship with two full siblings on the final day of competition at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage finals.
Taking the sash with a score of 72.78% was Headmore Davina, a 16.3hh eight-year-old mare, while in second was the 17.3hh nine-year-old gelding Headmore Dirubinio (Robin) who was just behind with 72.61%.
Alice’s last national win was in 2015, and she missed out on the winters last year due to a fractured finger.
“After last year, I was just happy to be able to compete here,” said the Hampshire-based rider. “I will have done 11 tests by the time the week’s over, and all my horses have been amazing.
“I think Davina had the edge today because she is a bit more experienced,” Alice added, after a lovely relaxed lap of honour on Davina, who used to be a bolter.
“I take it slow on the victory lap as she used to have a habit of charging off!”
Charlotte Dujardin scored 76.63% with River Rise Nisa in the final competition of the week, the Albion Medium Gold championship, to win the class by nearly 3%.
Second was Jayden Brown and Atterupgaards O2 who came away with 73.47%.
Leading the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Silver championship was a delighted Nicola Byam-Cook with the 13-year-old palomino Twyford Salamander (Solo), who topped their section with 71.99%.
This was Nicola’s first national championships, and said that she felt the pressure once she went into the lead.
“Waiting for the last score to come in felt like a lifetime,” said the rider, who won her regional qualifier on the charismatic 14.1hh gelding she bought from a friend last August.
“I knew if we did a good test we’d have a chance, and he tried his heart out for me in there.”
Nicola was on the hunt for a pony last summer when she stumbled across Solo: “I wanted something which was mainly safe, but also that I could be competitive on.
“He is just a pocket rocket. He is very correct and relaxed but also has a bit of flash. He has a great walk and canter.”
In 1991, Nicola, who now has two children, won at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) on a show pony and has fond memories of the music used for the lap of honour at Hartpury, which was also played at the RIHS.
Second was Alexis Ross and Quartz who were just behind with 71.73%.
For a full report from the British Dressage Winter Championships and Area Festival final – as well as news, views and expert comment – don’t miss Thursday’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (19 April 2018)