‘You never think it will be you’: breakthrough star dances to Winter Dressage Championships hat-trick

  • Davy Harvey capped his NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships week to remember with his third national title.

    The 28-year-old, who as a child “hated dressage”, piloted Judy Peploe’s Diamond Blue to Nupafeed advanced medium freestyle gold glory on Sunday afternoon on 76.72%.

    “We’ve got a really hard floorplan and last night I was lying in bed going, ‘Can I make it easier?’ He won yesterday and I thought, ‘Well, if he doesn’t win today, I’d be annoyed if I didn’t try’ So we just went for it,” said Davy, who rode to a Rush-inspired soundtrack, put together by Robin Diamond.

    The breakthrough moments that happen in this frustrating sport are its addictive quality. Davy started the week with no national titles to his name and ended with a hat-trick.

    Countdown’s Susie Dent’s word of the day is confelicity, a beautiful word that means finding joy in the happiness of others. It could not be more perfect to describe the emotion of witnessing the disbelief and amazement on this young man’s face as he won title after title this week.

    “You never think that it will be you or that you could be good enough – you see all these great horses and riders here. It’s surreal,” said Davy.

    It’s a position he has maintained after every win at the Winter Dressage Championships this week. Happily, he has proved himself wrong three times over.

    “We’re running on adrenaline and the excitement of the show – I don’t even know what day of the week it is, I just know it’s the last day, it just feels mad!” he added.

    “I wasn’t going to do this as a job, it was never the intention. I’d wanted to when I was a kid, and then when I realised how hard work, little pay and long hours it would be. I thought, ’You can do it for a bit, then you need to do something ‘real’, so to speak. And I never stopped.”

    Davy hails from a supportive horsey family, who have always encouraged him to follow whichever career path he chose. After six years at Talland, he set out on his own and hasn’t looked back.

    But growing up he had always viewed dressage as a necessity to get to the part where he could “hurtle around showjumps and then gallop across country”.

    “I was rubbish at it. I used to have really buzzy ponies because I was only interested in how fast I could go and how high I could jump,” he said, with a laugh.

    “I think I hated it because I had no understanding of it. I’m still trying to understand it now, but I think that’s the thing with dressage, you’re always learning. You never think, ‘Oh, I’ve got it now’.

    “I’m really lucky. I’ve got fantastic owners and fantastic horses now but takes a long time, doesn’t it? You’ve just got to keep chipping away.”

    Winter Dressage Championships: ‘He feels much more confident’

    British youth rider India Durman-Mills partnered her junior European Championship ride Escade to Magic prix st georges (PSG) silver victory on a score of 69.9% on the final day of the Winter Dressage Championships.

    “He was feeling great,” said India, who has stepped up to contest young rider international classes with Verity Saul’s 14-year-old Jazz gelding this year.

    “Movements like his canter pirouettes are getting so much better and he loves his changes. I was annoyed with myself because in the trot shoulder-in, we hit one of the boards and he did a few steps of canter. But I’m so pleased that obviously the marks are there and picked us up from that blip.

    “He feels much more confident there and I feel confident with him riding through that PSG.”

    Lily Carson and Red Valentino SCS scooped top honours in the prelim silver Area Festival final.

    Lily and the consistent six-year-old gelding, owned by Sue Carson, came out on top with a score of 71.46%, with the top-six all posting plus-70% scores.

    “We did the novice on Friday and had things to work from and improve on from that, which managed to do for the test today and the results showed,” said Lily.

    “It’s just a case of building his confidence in the arena. It’s one of the first of hopefully many big shows for him. So we went away, had a practice yesterday, improved on the comments that we got on Friday to do the test we did today.”

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