Amy Woodhead clinches six wins over the course of the show, including the grand prix with a mare who has benefited from time at the beach
Vale View High Profile, Leics, 29–31 October
Amy Woodhead proved unstoppable, claiming six wins on four different horses, including the competitive grand prix aboard a star from the Mount St John stud.
Amy and Mount St John Kom Fairy Tale (Furst Heinrich x Weltmeyer) topped Thursday’s inter II on 73.73%, following this up with a grand prix victory the following evening.
This was only the lightly competed 14-year-old mare’s third attempt at grand prix, having stepped up to this level just six weeks ago, but she oozed confidence to top the leaderboard on 72.17%.
The mare is stunning – liver chestnut with a head like a Stubbs painting, but with the sort of power and athleticism to make her a top athlete. Her trot half-passes were elegant and light, while her piaffe and pirouettes were a real highlight. Her free walk was relaxed and athletic, and the only perceivable moment of tension passed fleetingly in the flying change between the two pirouettes.
“Amy took on the ride about a year ago now and they make a really nice partnership,” said owner Emma Blundell of the Mount St John stud. “She’s a very hot horse and she gets a bit nervous, so Amy has been really giving her confidence. They’ve spent a lot of time at the beach, playing and having fun, which has really boosted her confidence.
“The tricky movements are the things she finds easiest. Her talents are the piaffe/passage and pirouettes, where she’s really strong in the collected work. She finds relaxing harder, so seeing her relaxed in that extended walk was the biggest thing for me.”
Second place went to Matt Frost and the 16-year-old Tribiani on 71.9%, who also finished runner-up to Amy and Fairy Tale in the inter II on 72.63%. The bright bay showed some spiciness in the early stages with a break in the extended trot, but quickly settled to perform an elegant test, showing his power in the extended canter and the changes and piaffe/passage work on the final centre line were a particular joy to watch.
“After the first couple of movements, he produced probably the best test I’ve ever done on him,” said Matt. “We went from very bad to very good! He got very good scores for his half-pass and passage and felt the best he’s ever been in the contact, and the score is a new personal best.
“He’s competed all over the world and is a horse who definitely thrives on steady competition through the year. He’s still quite a hot horse and loves his work, so was very happy to be out.”
Third place went to the strong partnership of Kate Cowell and Samba Dancer, who looked totally focused to produce an A-game test.
Two of Amy’s other victories came aboard U-Genius I, the stallion son of Uthopia, who took top honours at both inter I and prix st georges (PSG). She claimed another PSG win aboard MSJ Top Secret – pipping owner Emma and Mount St John VIP to first place – and an advanced medium victory on Ivan Carlos.
“Top Secret is the most advanced of our home-breds we have competing at the moment,” said owner Emma, adding they are “very excited” about the mare, who is among Totilas’ first crop, and hopes she might step up to grand prix next year.
“For now it’s about getting her confident in the ring; that’s what she needs to build on.
“It was fabulous to be out on VIP – I was really pleased. Amy’s been helping us over the past few years and we’ve done a lot more together in the last 12 months. She gave me the motivation to get her out. It was our first PSG and there’s lots to improve on; it was only our second show together so we were throwing ourselves in at the deep end.”
“He was a bit fresh”
Long-standing partnerships showed the strength of their bonds to bag several wins.
Tom Goode and the nine-year-old Saint Julian overcame tricky warm-up conditions on the opening day of the show to score an inter I victory with 71.05%.
“He was a bit fresh – he hasn’t done many shows recently, so he was a bit on his toes,” said Tom, who has produced the son of Sandro Hit from a five-year-old and is now working towards grand prix.
“The highlights were his changes – he just gives me such a good feeling in those. We have been working a lot on his trot extension, which has not always been his forte, and that has really developed.
“He’s such a laid-back horse. At home, you have to motivate him, but at a show he always picks up and he just loves competing.”
Katie Bailey and the nine-year-old British-bred Hillgrounds Wolkenhall (Harry), whom she bought as a foal from Clare Skinner, topped Saturday’s PSG on 75.75% after finishing second in Friday’s inter I behind Amy and U-Genius in his first attempt at that level.
“He was a bit nervy and more so on Friday because he has not been out to a big show for a while, but he was very good,” said Katie, who is also working towards grand prix with the 2019 winter medium champion.
“He is one of the main characters on the yard – he knows he’s important and loves attention!
“The trot work was really nice, and the canter pirouettes were one of his highlights,” she added. “I’ve still got a bit of work to do with the changes, but they are getting there as well.”
Sarah Fitton made the trip down from Somerford worth the journey with an advanced medium win on Florenciana with 68.68%.
“I’ve had ‘Tia’ for about eight years now and it’s not always been the easiest road. I feel I’m finally starting to get somewhere with her,” said Sarah.
“It was so nice to hear the judges say, ‘It’s a nice partnership,’ and that really means a lot. Tia has so much character and can be quite feisty some days, so to get her to the point where she’s going in the ring, is calm, happy in herself and performs a nice reliable test is so rewarding.”
Second went to Clare Johnston and Sensation following their advanced medium win on Friday on 70.07%.
Other wins went to Demi Howard-Cartwright and WFS Top Red, who won Thursday’s medium, while the PSG, advanced medium and medium freestyles were won by Natalie Widdowson (Gorgeous George IV), Louise Davison (SP Street Dancer) and Bridget Tate (CVS Night Fever) respectively.
Young riders on form
Ruby Hughes was crowned overall under-21 national champion for her combined performances in the children-on-horses FEI team and individual tests aboard Classic Bee Gee.
Caitlin Burgess and Chocotof took home the young rider title, while Holly Kerslake and Extasia ended the weekend as junior champions, with Mette Dahl and George Clooney scooping the pony championship.
Young riders also shone outside the championship classes. Lucy Amy and Rudy made their under-25 grand prix debut together a winning one, scoring 69.69%, while Rose Foley and the 14hh Cordici K took two medium victories.
Ref Horse & Hound; 5 November 2020