Dannie Morgan finally managed to shake off his bridesmaid status when taking the elementary freestyle silver title on day four of the NAF Five Star British Dressage Winter Championships.
The 25-year-old had already clocked up two seconds, two thirds and a fourth at these championships, so his win riding Sarah Oppenheimer’s Headmore Davina was well-deserved.
Southampton-based Dannie rode to a Lion King medley to score 73.91%, 0.7% ahead of second-placed Jane Morris riding Quinet Du Buisson Z.
Usually an event rider, Dannie was riding at his first BD winter championships.
“It’s been such a fun week,” said Dannie. “It’s also amazing and a real privilege to ride such a world class horse like Davina.”
Alice Oppenheimer produced this mare but “struggled” with her.
“Dannie has done such a good job with her as she has such a strong flight reflex and she used to run off at shows with me,” said Alice who hopes Davina will be a grand prix horse for her for the future. “He’s built her confidence and there’s no way that she would have gone into that main arena this time last year. She’s a phenomenal talent and has really tried hard here.”
Novice gold honours went to a delighted Becky Moody, riding her giant five-year-old, Heavenly Kiss BS, who stands at 18hh.
“Our long-term supporter Julie Lockey bred him, so I’ve known him since he was a foal,” said Becky of the First Kiss x Don Schufro gelding, affectionately known as ‘Hectorsaurus’ at home, due to his dinosaur dimensions. “We were hoping for a top five finish so I’m really pleased. We did a good, solid clear round but it wasn’t earth-shattering which is exciting as I know there’s so much more to come.”
Becky fought off some tough competition, with Nicola Buchanan 1.78% behind Becky in second place riding St Giles Fairytale on a score of 71.73%. Meanwhile Charlotte Dujardin was third on River Rise Nisa.
Christian Landholt added a second winter title to his 2017 tally when taking the novice silver championship. He was once again riding the six-year-old mare Liss La Belle, and they completed an accurate and correct test for 77.02%.
Second place went to the highly consistent, Dannie Morgan, once again riding Headmore Davina. They scored 73.21% and Dannie added this to his win earlier in the day.
Petplan Equine Area Festival Finals
The area festival medium bronze final went to under-25 rider Lucy Goodman riding her own seven-year-old chestnut mare, Freya V. They were the only combination to break the 70% barrier to finish on 70.05%, ahead of Jade Clark riding Evangelico.
Lucy said: “Evangelico is a typical chestnut mare — she’s very hot but we’ve just started to click over the past 18 months.”
A former model took top honours in the area festival novice silver final.
Matthew Baker and his 17.1hh The Merry Minstrel won by nearly 1% to finish on 73.17%.
Matthew originally evented, but was working in Boots on Oxford Street in London when he was scouted to become a model. He took a year out of eventing to give modelling a go and then returned to horses but decided to go down the dressage route instead.
Matthew said: “He concentrated well the second time around after we were only sixth in the first of the two rounds.”
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Second place went to Alicia Laughton riding Armada Donna Bella.
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