Charlotte Dujardin took her 2016 National title tally to three this afternoon when she triumphed in the TopSpec Medium GoldChampionship on Wendy and Paul Dockley and her own Florentina VI. The flamboyant dapple grey daughter of Vivaldi produced some breath-taking work, belying her six years to score 75.42%.
Florentina, who qualified at the Mount Ballan Summer Regional Championships, claimed the Shearwater Five-Year-Old Championship here last year and has since won every Medium class contested, even breaking the 80% barrier. The exquisite mare has caught the eye of many and looks to be an exciting prospect for the future.
Second was Ruth Edge, who recently announced her permanent switch from eventing to dressage. She and the talented seven-year-old Lochwood scored 72.18%.
LeMieux Grand Prix Gold Championship
The biggest cheer of the afternoon was reserved for the penultimate combination to enter the arena for the LeMieux Grand Prix Gold Championship, Carl Hester and Coral Ingham’s 15-year-old Wanadoo II.
It was fully justified, as it turned out, as the pair’s punchy, near mistake-free test earned them the top score of 72.94% – just over one percent ahead of last year’s National Champions Charlotte Dujardin and Barolo (71.88%). “Someone asked me this morning what my aim was for today and I said it was to beat Charlotte,” laughed the Olympic team silver medallist at prize-giving. “It’s lovely to have her standing on my left rather than my right for once!”
Of the 15-year-old son of Wolkenstein II, who has been super-consistent this year, Carl added: “He’s very genuine, but quite shy in the ring and sometimes needs a bit of coaxing. It’s been hard because I’ve been away so much recently [in Rio], so he felt a little bit short of match practice. He’s capable of scoring 75%, but today he didn’t quite give through his back and the score reflected that.”
Three combinations topped 70%, with Gill Davison and Alfranco scoring a very creditable 70.16% to finish third.
Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Freestyle
The Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I Freestyle belonged to Michael Eilberg with the super-talented Sa Coeur who rode a cracking test in front of the crowds this afternoon. The pair reigned supreme in yesterday’s Intermediate I and were clearly the ones to beat in today’s freestyle. To Michael’s tried-and-tested Gary Patteson-produced freestyle, the pair produced a seamless, emotive performance, without missing a beat, to score 76.63% for a clear lead.
Sa Coeur (Sir Donnerhall x Don Davidoff) is a powerful athlete who moves with flawless rhythm through the movements – qualities which helped him earn the crown of World Young Horse Champion as a five and six-year-old under Eva Möller, who’s here as ride judge for the Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Championships. The now nine-year-old, a good looking bay gelding owned by Elena Knyaginicheva, is progressing smoothly through the levels under the tutelage of the Eilberg family: “Eva hasn’t seen him since I rode him here in a demo so it’s good for her to see him again at this level. He has a special place in her heart,” said Michael.
“Sa Coeur is a lovely character. It’s what you live for – having horses like that and we [the Eilberg family] pride ourselves in keeping them healthy and happy. His record is excellent – he’s won everything bar one competition, including Small Tour wins in Saumur, Roosendal and at Keysoe.
The Eilberg-family set-up provides the ideal environment for the horses under their care to flourish. “We [the Eilberg family] know each other so well and support each other without even knowing it. It’s a really good set up and my parents are amazing. They’re still there supporting us [Michael and his sister Maria] and between all of us there’s nothing that gets missed.”
All photos from Kevin Sparrow Photography
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