‘Pat the pony, kick the rider’: Millis takes it to the wire at NAF Five Star Hartpury CDI *H&H Plus*

  • Sarah Millis won the prix st georges (PSG) at the NAF Five Star Hartpury CDI by the narrowest of margins. Riding her own Impressive VDC, Sarah scored 72.94%. Andrew Gould was second with a mark of 72.91% on Genie, his PSG national winter champion from the previous week.

    “It was very close!” said Sarah, who bought the Charmeur x Krack C eight-year-old from the Equine Elite auction in The Netherlands when he was two.

    “I was super-pleased with him. I committed a silly rider error at the end of my extended canter – he can get quite onwards and in my last test I had to work hard to get him back, so I worked harder and he listened this time, but I over-collected and we lost the canter, and then the flying change. But pat the pony, kick the rider!”

    This was only Impressive VDC’s second international competition. He qualified for the World Breeding Championships last year as a seven-year-old, but Covid meant that he and Sarah couldn’t travel there.

    “He’s an amazing character, very intelligent and has learnt everything quickly,” she said. “He’s real fun – a bit of a big pony — and is showing super ability for the grand prix, as well. He’s been pretty straightforward all the way through – he can have his odd sharp moments, but you want some life and some character.

    “The plan now is to build our confidence in the ring at this level, but then also the training for the grand prix. I’d like to do an international with him abroad this year, and just get a feel for how he is on those journeys, and work on the grand prix.”

    Runner-up Andrew is enjoying a good run with Tatiana Skillman’s 10-year-old Zhivago stallion Genie, and said with a laugh: “That was a bit too close, wasn’t it? But it was still a great result with good scores. I came out of the test completely over the moon; he didn’t make any mistakes, he did some really good pirouettes and lateral work, and stayed really good in the frame, so I’m happy.”

    Third was Rebecca Hughes, again not far behind with a score of 72.17% on her own, her husband Gareth’s and Julia Hornig’s 10-year-old Goldstrike LE.

    “I’m really happy,” said Rebecca. “I actually fell off him at home two days ago. I’ve had him since he was three, and he just span on me and caught me off-guard. I was determined he wasn’t going to spin here, so I kicked a bit more, and that’s probably what I need to do in future!”

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