Sophie Wells’ rising star impresses on prix st georges gala night

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There was no stopping para dressage star Sophie Wells and her exciting prospect C Fatal Attraction as they ran away with victory in the prix st georges (PSG) freestyle gold championship on gala night at the NAF Five Star British Dressage Winter Championships at Hartpury (12-16 April).

Her Rio Olympic reserve horse finished on 75.75%, 2.71% ahead of their nearest rivals.

Riding to atmospheric Tom Hunt compiled music, their test was a joy to watch with their extended trot being a particular highlight.

“‘Jorge’ has just become strong enough to perform the test properly,” explained Sophie of the 10-year-old owned by Charlotte Hogg. “I’m so pleased with him as he’s usually quite spooky, but he went in there and focussed.”

Trained by Angela Weiss, this win comes off the back of a very successful time at the CPEDI3* in Deauville where they won the Grade V competition on almost 80%.

“Jorge didn’t quite do all of his best work in there tonight, but he pulled it off to a certain extent,” said Sophie. “He’s still quite new to PSG so I can only be happy.”

Second place went to 19-year-old Joanna Thurman-Baker, which marks one of her best career results to date.

Riding her own 15-year-old Highcliffe Apollo, this is Joanna’s first attempt at the winter championships, and she did it in style, finishing on a score of 73.04%.

“‘Apollo’ really tries — he’s naturally built downhill and he’s quite spooky but he really tries for me,” Joanna said of the horse she has produced since a youngster with the help of her mother and sister. “The only mistake we really made was when the judge at C coughed which spooked him, but it didn’t put us off track.”

Joanna will aim for young rider internationals and hopefully the young rider European squad this year.

“I keep thinking he’s reached his maximum potential, but then we ask him another question and he answers it,” said Joanna who rides full-time.

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Third place went to amateur rider Gemma Maddocks riding her own 12-year-old El Paso Van Overis who was competing here after getting a wild card.

The estate agent, who lives on the Isle of Wight was chuffed with her result.

“This horse has never been in this atmosphere before so it’s great to finish in the top three. I thought he would be tense but he got on with the job.”

They finished on a score of 72.46%.

For a full report from the British Dressage NAF Five Star Winter Championships and the Petplan Equine Area Festival Final pick up a copy of Horse & Hound on Thursday, 20 April

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