“This means so much to me,” said an emotional Sadie Smith, who won the Superflex FEI Intermediate I Freestyle Gold winter final on her own Keystone Dynamite on day four of the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage championships (14 April.)
After winning the Superflex Inter I Gold championship yesterday with “Mambo”, Sadie was back with a stunning test in the gala evening to claim 75.38%, which was 2% more than the second placed pairing of Nicola Buchanan and Half Moon Dark Magic.
“I’m so proud of him,” added the 28-year-old rider who works for Carl Hester. “He was a bit hot in his twos but made no mistakes and did some good pirouettes — he really has become a lovely horse who tries his best.
“It’s nice that I can now focus on him; in the past he’s often been put on the back burner while I’ve focused on other horses, but finally having the time to concentrate on him is paying off.”
Sadie’s well-matched music is from the Kingsman films and was compiled by Kay Vittori of Music in Motion.
“I just went for it in the test and took a lot of risks — I watched what the others had been doing and knew I had to,” she said.
The gelding will be aimed at competing in the internationals at Hickstead and Hartpury during the summer before moving up the grand prix.
“I love these championships,” she added. “Even though there is a lot of atmosphere for the horses, it’s a very social event with lots of spectators which is great.
After winning the same class in the silver division last year, Charlie Sawyer returned victorious on Chico Too to win the Spillers Medium Freestyle Gold final
The towering 17.3hh gelding performed a relaxed, flowing test to bag a score of 74.67%, compared with the 72.56% he achieved last year.
“He is just so chilled,” said Charlie, of this 14-year-old. “Overall I am pleased with his test — we tend to do better in the freestyle as it’s easier to establish rhythm. His trot has come on so much and he is moving with a lot more cadence. He has such great simple changes.”
Chico, who is owned by Charlie’s mum Sarah, joined the family four years ago, and was knowingly bought with several health of issues.
“He has kissing spines and arthritis of the facet joints, and spent the first two and half years following an intensive rehabilitation program,” explained Charlie. “He has a very different life to most dressage horses — he only schools once a week and does lots of hacking and jumping to strengthen him up. It’s not the conventional method of training in this discipline, but it seems to be working for us!”
Slotting into second was James Burtwell and Verano, who came away with 73.50%.
Charlotte Dujardin did the one-two-three in the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold Winter championship, taking the win on River Rise Nisa (Nancy) with 75.83%, second on Gio (Pumpkin) with 73.29% and third on Mount St John VIP with 73.16%.
“I never know how they’re going to finish up,” said Charlotte. “Nancy has always been the bridesmaid so this was a nice win for her. She is probably the greenest of the three at this level and she was overwhelmed in the arena walk, but later on she went back and did a really good test.
“All three are seven-years-old so for each of them to go in and do this is amazing. Pumpkin did a mistake free test and and VIP is just fun to ride — I can ride her like an older horse as she’s so sorted with her head. I’m so happy with all three of them.”
Young talent dominated in the KBIS Preliminary Silver Winter Championship, with 15-year-old Carla Milne and Hey Good Looking GK taking the top spot. Based in Scotland, Carla and “Cookie” have a seven-hour trip to get home.
The 16.2hh six-year-old, who is by Chello III, was the first horse in the arena today and earned 70.46% to remain in first place for the duration.
“I’ve owned him for two years, and came across him after seeing an advert online — it was love at first sight.
“He was really trotting today and picking up his feet, which is something he can struggle with. I am delighted with his test.
Second to them was 10-year-old Daisy Milne and her Welsh section C mare Raynid Heartbreaker, who were just 0.2% behind.