NAF winter dressage championships day two: Team Oppenheimer dominate with Headmore-bred horses

Alice Oppenheimer enjoyed a successful day two of the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships claiming two first and a second with three Headmore-bred horses, all out of her late foundation broodmare Rubinsteena. Alice filled first and second place in the Equi-Trek elementary gold championship aboard Headmore Bella Ruby (74.27%) and Headmore Dionysus (73.54%) respectively, and topped the Magic prix st georges gold championship riding Headmore Davina (71.95).

“It’s great to have three horses by our foundation broodmare here and doing so well, I feel so lucky to have such amazing horses to ride that we’ve bred and produced ourselves,” said an emotional Alice. “They are two very different types of horse. Bella is so supple and fluid, but she did get nervous in the warm up yesterday so I had to change tact a little bit today which paid off. Once she gets into those boards, she switches into work mode and is such a professional.

“Dionysus is only 15.3hh so a real pocket rocket and such a fab little horse. I only started competing him in October for his owner Amanda Radford and he’s just gone from strength to strength.”

Of her PSG win with nine-year-old Dimaggio x Rubinstein mare Headmore Davina, Alice said: “She was super and that was the best trot work I’d ever had in the ring. Our pirouettes could have been better so I’ll work on those for our tests tomorrow [inter I and PSG freestyle].

“It’s so special to have three horses here all out of Rubinsteena. What an amazing legacy. They are so like her too. They can all be a bit spooky outside the arena, but once they are in the white boards, they have the most brilliant work ethic and are so reliable.”

Rippon-based Lauren Noble headed the Charles Owen advanced medium silver with her beautiful 11-year-old Herzensdieb mare Heartbreak.

“I’m a little bit overwhelmed,” said Lauren who’s owned the mare since a four-year-old. “She’s had a big break and this is her first big competition back, so I can’t believe she’s managed to pull it out of the bag.”

Lauren, who trains with Sonia Baines, puts her success down to a last minute training session.

“We stopped off at Sonia’s on the way down to Hartpury to work on our half-passes and we must have nailed them because they felt amazing today,” Lauren added. “My aim now is PSG and then we’ll put her in foal so I can continue her dynasty.”

Team Oppenheimer continued their run in the Baileys Horse Feeds novice freestyle silver championship with the impeccable six-year-old gelding Headmore Footloose (Eric) partnered by Maeve Morris.

The young horse belied his lack of age and experience to clinch a score of 77.31%; the highest of the championships so far.

“I couldn’t be happier and Eric had a lovely time,” said Maeve, who rides the horse for her stepmother, Nicky Morris, on weekends in between working full time in property management in London.

“I am so grateful to Nicky for letting me compete him; though she can’t sell him now anyway as he’s doing so well,” she added. “He loves his job and has done a lot in a short space of time. His brain is just amazing; as soon as he’s in between the boards he just knows what to do.”

The duo won the prelim championship at nationals last year and will now step up to novice gold and elementary.

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