‘I just copied Charlotte Dujardin’: PSG freestyle winner reveals the secret behind his success

  • Roland Tong and the eight-year-old mare CHS Fonteyn won the Magic Prix St Georges (PSG) Freestyle Gold Championship at the 2024 NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships on 74.12% – just under 2% ahead of Jezz Palmer and Honey D’Or.

    “She was brilliant because she’s only done three PSGs before this and then it was straight to the championships,” said Roland.

    “I always love the freestyles, Gaynor Colbourn did our music and she played 27 instruments and then brought it all together, so it’s quite unique because it goes from Swan Lake, to Whitney Houston, to Elton – it’s unbelievable.”

    It was a marked improvement from the PSG the day before (10 April) – where the combination scored 66.12% to finish 12th – with Roland admitting he went out looking to take more risks.

    “She was too nervous yesterday but it was completely different this time around,” he said. “I went on YouTube and I thought ‘I’ve got to make this floorplan really hard’ – so I copied Charlotte Dujardin’s freestyle.”

    When asked what the hardest part of the resulting routine was, Roland laughed, answering: “all of it!”

    2024 Winter Dressage Championships: “The best horse I’ve ever sat on”

    Dannie Morgan continued his fine form to add yet another national title to his collection, winning the PDS Saddles Elementary Freestyle Gold Championship on his outstanding six-year-old gelding Fever Tree (Foundation x Dayano), who he describes as “the best horse I’ve ever sat on.”

    In what was a strong class, the combination were clear winners, scoring the highest mark of the championships so far – 79.29% – and finishing comfortably clear of Gracie Catling and Fraithwens Wytske fan ter Lune, who were second on 75.76%.

    “He’s an incredible horse, I’ve never had one like him before, he gives me goosebumps,” said Dannie. “I tried to show an interesting floor plan but there wasn’t anything too technical – he’s got such a lovely way of going and is such a beautiful mover that I just try to present him in a nice way and he makes my job very easy.”

    Fever Tree was bred by David Stone of Bow Lake Equestrian where Dannie is based and also won the novice freestyle gold at the winter championships last year. He has now won 25 of 28 outings so far in his career and look set to go to the very top.

    “I’ve known him since he was a foal, and ever since I first saw him, I was like, ‘wow, that horse’,” added Dannie. “I got the opportunity to buy him when I broke him in as a three year old. Horses like him don’t come around very often so I want to keep hold of him.”

    Dannie was also fifth on the seven-year-old gelding Monsieur Frederique who finished on 72.11%.

    The Petplan Intermediate I Silver Area Festival went down to the wire with Julia Walker winning on her 19-year-old mare Rodhea on 66.02% – just ahead of Nichola Harrison and Lobke Van Het Urnenveld in second on 65.93%.

    “We call her princess,” said Julia, who works for John and Char Lasstter. “I was so pleased with her performance and that we didn’t make any mistakes in the changes.”

    “She came to the UK as a five-year-old from Lithuania and she was going to be for Char but she didn’t quite grow big enough, so I bought her after backing and producing her as a young horse.”

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