En Vogue delights the judges at Somerford Premier League *H&H Plus*

  • Carl Hester wows at grand prix level with his Tokyo hope En Vogue at Somerford Premier League, Cheshire, while a newcomer comes away from her first ever Premier League with a win, reports Jo Prestwich

    IT was no surprise to see Carl Hester win both the grand prix and grand prix special at Somerford Premier League, Cheshire, with En Vogue, but the way he did took the partnership up another level with a smattering of 10s in both tests and an impressive 82.24% in the special.

    “Carl’s just unbelievable,” stated Clive Halsall, who judged at C in the grand prix and E in the special. “All those horses of his come out and enjoy their job. Vogue is a really hot horse who made those difficult exercises look ridiculously easy. Carl intuitively knows when to take risks and when to sit quietly. He is such a clever rider and that really was something special to watch.”

    Carl was delighted with the 12-year-old Jazz son, as he also was with his prix st georges (PSG) winner Nutbush. Owned by Carl with Roly Luard and Anne Barrott, ‘Gus’ is a Negro half-brother to successful stallion Timolin, who has himself competed to grand prix and intermediate CCI3* level eventing.

    “Gus is just gorgeous,” said Carl, who was making his competition debut with the nine-year-old. “Big, kind and with a temperament to die for – the perfect ‘old man’s’ horse for me!”

    Eilidh Grant won Friday’s inter I with Mount St John Doornroos II. The 13-year-old was bought four years ago from Emma Blundell at Mount St John stud.

    “I’d been looking for one which had done a bit for a while. ‘Ella’ was working at advanced medium but her changes were not totally safe and I like a challenge,” Eilidh said. “She was a step above anything I’ve had before movement wise and has a great attitude for work.”

    For Eilidh and Ella, lockdown has been a blessing in disguise.

    “We’ve really worked on the changes,” said Eilidh, who trains with Nicola Buchanan and Carl Hester. “We’ve got the ones now and that seems to have relaxed her in everything else. Maybe realising that what was her worst nightmare is actually OK was the key. Her twos were the highlight of her tests here and got her the best marks.”

    International aims

    LAST year’s five and four-year-old young horse champions Mount St John Diamonds Are Forever (Amy Woodhead), and Waverley Fellini (Greg Sims), booked their tickets to this year’s championships, the former in the five-year-old commanded test and the latter in the six-year-old international.

    Emma Blundell bought Diamonds Are Forever as a foal in Germany from her breeder Andre Obermeyer, with Fellini being British-bred at Sara Longworth’s Waverley Stud.

    Greg owns the Fürstenball x Sandro Hit gelding with his partner Stena Hoerner. Last year the aim was the Young Horse World Championships, for which they were selected, but Covid put paid to that.

    “I’d love to have a chance to go this year,” he said. “That was certainly the best feeling he’s given me in a test and I just hope we get the chance to go abroad.”

    Olivia Commins and Scuderarri took the commanded six-year-old class, while Beth Bainbridge piloted Tiger to win the international five-year-olds.

    The in-form partnership of Matt Frost and Helga won Saturday’s PSG from Gareth Hughes and Happiness, who went on to win the next day’s inter I.

    Matt owns Helga with the Keenan family and is looking forward to the future with the Chagall D&R nine-year-old.

    Matt Frost riding Helga at Somerford Premier League 2021

    Matt Frost riding Helga at Somerford Premier League 2021

    “Her attitude is exceptional and it is up to me to get the best out of her,” he said. “I think she could be one of the best, if not the best, I’ve ever ridden. She’s barely 16hh, I’m 6’4” but she’s absolutely my ideal woman!”

    Alicia Lee celebrated her place on the latest World Class Programme Podium Potential list with a win in the under-25 grand prix riding Bonita 466, with an impressive 70.24%.

    She was not the only one to celebrate a position on the list with a win: Annabella Pidgley repeated the feat in the junior tests with the 2017 Young Horse World Championships silver medallist Sultan Des Paluds, and Ellie McCarthy in the inter II with GB Londero Von Worrenberg.

    Top Prospects

    BECKY MOODY had a great show, scoring a third in the grand prix and second in the grand prix special with Famke PF, the latter being “Iris’s” first test at the level. Her weekend was rounded off with a win in Saturday’s PSG with Jagerbomb, who was also third at advanced medium, and the seven-year-old advanced medium with Jack Diamond.

    Becky Moody riding Jagerbomb at Somerford Premier League 2021

    Becky Moody riding Jagerbomb at Somerford Premier League 2021

    Jagerbomb is Becky’s third home-bred out of Udysee (show name Ultravox), who was about to go grand prix before injury.

    “I am really excited about these two,” said Becky. “Jo Cooper owns Jack Diamond and is part-owner of Iris with the Websters. I can’t wait to see how they develop; they’re both big horses and needed the time but I really think they are going to be phenomenal.”

    The sun gods smiled on Somerford and it was good to see spectators able to appreciate so many quality horses. The venue looked amazing and left everyone looking forward to the LeMieux National Championships there later this year.


    This report is also available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 3 June 2021

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