Eilberg and Half Moon Dynasty Win Inter I Kur at 2014 British Indoor Championships

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 20:20
2014 British Indoor Dressage Championships

On paper, it was to be the class of the 2014 British Indoor Championships and, in reality, it didn’t disappoint the near-capacity crowd in Hartpury’s International Arena. Michael Eilberg has an affinity with the daunting space and rarely leaves empty handed. With victories in 2011 and 2012 in the Inter I Freestyle, he was hungry for a third win. In Jon and Julie Deverill's Half Moon Dynasty, he had an excellent chance but a number of the top Inter I combinations stood in their way.

After the first interval, last night’s runners up, Alice Oppenheimer with her mum Sarah’s ‘ugly duckling who became a swan’ Headmore Boadecia lead the way with a score of 69.88%. First in after the break was Matt Hicks with Anny Bachrach and his own Excalibur (s.Ehrentusch) who duly stole the lead - their first halt had to be worthy of a ten it was so square! In came Paralympian Sophie Wells with her 2013 triple European Gold Medallist Valerius (s. Flemmingh) who is maturing into quite an imposing chap. Their brave floorplan was full of tricks (and treats) to music from the Sherlock Holmes movie. Their score of 74.75% was greeted by a huge roar from the crowd and the lead was theirs. Next was Eilidh Grant who had made the long trip from Scotland with the ever-consistent mare Comanche Crumble and they will be pleased with their fantastic score of 70.38%.

A break to let Anna Ross-Davies unravel the mysteries of some common dressage sayings in her masterclass kept the crowd entertained while the final four competitors warmed up behind the scenes.

First in was Clare Poole’s Lennox and Dan Greenwood. They’re beginning to come into their own at this level and their ‘funked up’ Swan Lake score provided a great platform for some interesting lines for their tempi changes. The judges Paul Hayler (E), Susanne Baarup (C) and Freddy Leyman (M) rewarded the 11 year old with 67.92% which wasn’t quite enough for a top placing.

It was then newlywed Charlie Hutton with his relatively new partner, Charlotte Donkerton’s Douglas IV. Charlie has really gelled quickly with the ex-Carl Hester ride and tonight’s performance to a rousing rendition of the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams showed that a grand prix career is just round the corner for the duo. Some impressive trot work and brave canter/halt/canter start impressed the judges and their 74.63% came close to toppling Sophie and ‘Reece’ but they were a fraction short.

Then on to one of the hot favourites. Their performance at last October’s Mount St John Future Elite Championship at Horse of the Year Show really cemented Michael and Half Moon Dynasty as a combination to monitor for future success. Six months on and ‘Molly’ has continued to mature and now 10, the Dimaggio-sired black mare is established at small tour level. The Eilbergs and Deverills have had a special score designed and chorographed for Molly by Gary Patterson who composes from scratch and plays all the instruments himself. It was debuted at HOYS but this is the first time many spectators will have seen it performed. Dimaggio sired Molly tried her heart out and it was as near a ‘clear round’ as you could expect. As is customary, the score was kept hush hush while the final rider and horse performed.

This honour went to Hartpury favourites, Isobel Wessels and Chagall who’ve been missing for a year through a field injury. Isobel owns Chagall with Bridget Powell and the leggy Contendro gelding looked to enjoy his time back in the limelight, perhaps a little too much for FEI 5* Judge Isobel’s liking as he was full of beans but still performed some near perfect sections. They’re such a good partnership but it will take the a few more outings to be back to their best.

Commentator Matt Millin kept the crowd in suspense a little bit longer while the tension grew back stage…was it to be Sophie, Michael or Isobel? A whopping 78.29% was announced for Michael and Half Moon Dynasty and a third smart NAF Superflex green rug was on its way home to the Eilberg’s Pink Green Farm in Beoley – and some very smart sashes and a rossie to match!

“She did the best she could in there tonight. There’s not one movement I can think that went wrong the whole way through. Some of the changes were amazing, I could have ridden them all night, particularly the three times where I thought I was going to run out of space I was enjoying it so much. She’s come on a lot since HOYS and she can now go in and score for her performance rather than just her quality – she’s more solid,” said a happy Michael.

Michael is hoping to take her to some high-profile continental shows to really establish her at small tour level but grand prix is not far round the corner. “Of course we’ve been playing at home,” Michael said with a wry smile. “She’s really surprised us all just how quickly she’s picked it up, it’s exciting!”

It was runner up spot for Sophie and third for Charlie. Fourth were Isobel and Chagall with Alice promoted to fifth following a revised score brought her up to 70.71%.

Photos © Risto Aaltonen - Jon Stroud

Results - 2014 British Indoor Championships - Inter I Kur
Judges: Hayler, Baarup, Leyman

  • 1.Michael Eilberg - Half Moon Dynasty - 78.29
  • 2. Sophie Wells - Valerius - 74.75
  • 3. Charlie Hutton - Douglas - 74.63
  • 4. Isobel Wessels - Chagall - 72.04
  • 5. Alice Oppenheimer - Headmore Boadecia - 70.71
  • 6. Matt Hicks - Excalibur - 70.42
  • 7. Eilidh Grant - Comanche Cruble - 70.38
  • 8. Lesley Peyton Gilbert - Woodcroft Garuda K - 69.25
  • 9. Alex Hardwick - Calvin G - 68.29
  • 10. Daniel Greenwood - Lennox - 67.92
  • 11. Alex Hardwick - Donauwein - 67.21
  • 12. Matt Frost - Romanero - 64.75
  • 13. Matt Hicks - Sheepcote Walnut - 63.67
  • 14. Sara Jane Lanning - Try me Once - 62.46
  • 15. Hayley Watson Greaves - Don Wimero - 58.67

Related Link
Junior Rider Charlotte Fry Wins PSG Kur at 2014 British Indoor Championships