Sadie Smith and Charlotte Dujardin were the grand winners of the small tour titles at the 2018 British Winter Championships which were held on 12 - 15 April 2018.
Dujardin and River Rise Escarla Win Prix St Georges Gold Class
The inaugural Prix St Georges Gold class saw another emphatic win for Charlotte Dujardin, this time aboard the Lord Leatherdale sired River Rise Escarla. The winning score was 75.57% whilst 71.80% put Nikki Barker and Durable in the runner up spot.
‘She’s showing a bit of everything for Grand Prix now,’ Charlotte said about the super mare owned in partnership with Sarah Tyler-Evans, ‘I’m really happy with all the work she’s doing, that’s only the third time I’ve competed her so really we’re still learning a bit about each other. I was really pleased with the test, she got a bit hot in the walk but apart from that I was very happy.’
‘It feels amazing to watch her win,’ added proud owner and breeder Sarah, ‘As for the future, I’d really like to see her go to Grand Prix!’
Charlotte took over River Rise Escarla’s reins from Sadie Smith two years ago but has spent time training the AES nine-year-old at home, ‘Sadie did a great job with her, I spent a year getting to know her and making her mine with the aim of getting to Prix St Georges level.’
Under the revised system, Charlotte and ‘Maisie’ will appear in the Magic Prix St Georges Freestyle for tonight’s Gala Performance alongside the remaining combinations making up the top 15. With six scores over 70% in today’s qualifier the class is set to be an unmissable event.
Sadie Smith and Keystone Dynamit Win Inter I Gold Championship
After a five year break from the Winter Championships, Sadie Smith and Keystone Dynamite are back with a bang as they topped the leaderboard in the Inter I Gold Championship with 71.84%
‘The last time I rode here with him was five years ago at Novice and we couldn’t even get round,’ exclaimed a delighted Sadie. ‘Last year was my first year at Small Tour, we went to the Nationals and to be fair he was brilliant but he’s been the trickiest thing so to win this just means the world to me.’
Last to go in the class today, Sadie and the ten-year-old Dimaggio gelding known as ‘Mambo’ at home pipped Jayden Brown and Mount St John De La Beaute to the post (69.21%) with a test that showed great maturity, which is not too surprising as she’s working for one of dressage’s ultimate test riders, Carl Hester.
‘I couldn’t have done this without Carl and Charlotte, since I’ve been working [at Carl’s] he’s just transformed into a completely different horse. He has to cope with Carl’s birds for one,’ she laughed. ‘[Mambo] can be very nervous – we couldn’t even get down Carl’s drive when we first came but the routine has been brilliant as it’s so regimented. Carl and Charlotte have ridden him a couple of times now, it’s taken a while as neither of them would ride him to start with because he’s so naughty but they’ve been helping me with my one-time changes as I’m learning too.’
With some internationals at Small Tour on the cards this year for Sadie and Mambo and an aim of Grand Prix in the not too distant future, it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing a lot more of this talented duo.
Dujardin Wins Prix St. Georges Freestyle
The Prix St Georges Freestyle is always a thrilling competition and the class didn’t disappoint. In the end it was Charlotte Dujardin and Sarah Tyler-Evans' outstanding River Rise Escarla who took the prestigious title after earning a score of 74.04% from judges Peter Storr (C), Anita Andendorff (M) and Mary-Ann Horn (E).
Charlotte Dujardin once again didn’t fail to impress with Sarah Tyler-Evans super mare River Rise Escarla. Despite admitting to not having a Prix St Georges freestyle programme and making it up as she went along the duo were on top form! A small mistake in the four tempi changes was the only major issue in their outstanding routine; the highlights were active extensions, tight and balanced half pirouettes and elastic lateral work. ‘Charlotte is always on the top of her game, she’s done it again tonight. There will be many high marks but it wasn’t quite a clear round. She showed great connection, expression and balance. Charlotte won’t be afraid to admit that she was making that up! It’s a wonderful combination, the horse has lots of energy and power – It may not be a world record but it will be a great result!’ predicted Isobel Wessels.
Nikki Barker and Viv Gleave’s imposing stallion Durable are always a popular combination with the crowds and tonight was no exception. A perfectly immobile first halt set precedence for their immaculate test ridden to funky pop music. Long, sweeping lines of lateral work dominated a canter tour that was only hampered by a small mistake in the four time changes. Isobel expected good marks for Nikki as she praised, ‘my goodness what a powerhouse of a horse! I was pleased to judge this as a four year old and now to see it as a power horse for the future is great, Nikki is such an experienced rider. The relaxation in the walk is impressive and overall he’s very elastic.’ Nikki and ‘Danny’ finished as eventual runner up with a brilliant 70.71%.
With the top three confirmed as Charlotte Dujardin, Nikki Barker and Amy Woodhead it was on to another prize giving for the reigning Olympic champion. Speaking about her win Charlotte said, ‘I’m going to say it how it is… I just made that up as I went along! It was an Inter I music, Carl said I wouldn’t be able to make it work but I said I’ve got no choice I’m just going to have to improvise! The trot work stayed the same but I had to change the canter, I bluffed my way around there. I honestly cantered around the car park thinking about what I could do, people were looking at me thinking I was crazy! Every freestyle I do is unprepared, it’ the story of my life!’
About River Rise Escarla Charlotte added, ‘I’m really happy with her, she’s only done three Prix St Georges tests so she’s super green at the level, it was a huge ask for her.’ A lot of the horses in the Magic Prix St Georges class were challenged by the electric atmosphere in the NAF arena but ‘Maisie’ wasn’t fazed, ‘there’s so much movement in the arena, I put an ear hood on her and it seemed to work’ Charlotte concluded.
Super Sadie wins Inter I Freestyle
In front of a packed house, Sadie Smith and Keystone Dynamite won the Intermediate I Freestyle in emphatic style. The stylish combination was awarded a total percentage score of 75.38% from judges Brenda Minor (E), Nick Burton (C) and Jo Graham (M).
The first off in the final group was Sadie Smith and her Dimaggio son Keystone Dynamite. Riding to music from Kingsman, the pair delivered an awesome test for 75.38%. The half passes were expressive covering much ground, and the powerful extended trots were breathtakingly off the floor. With all that energy, Sadie nonetheless has supreme control which was shown so well with beautifully uphill extended canters into pirouettes and three- and two-tempis on a curve. “It was a really superb test. Very on-point with the music, showing the extensions where the music came strong, with beautiful flying changes and half passes,” commented Isobel.
Nicola Buchanan and Half Moon Dark Magic, a good-looking liver chestnut son of Dimaggio, made an impression the moment they entered the arena. An instrumental adaptation of Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black accompanied powerful and easy half passes and extensions. The canter work was confident and secure with beautifully-centred pirouettes. Nicola and nine-year-old Dark Magic look an exciting combination. “Nicola’s one of our best riders and this test was super!” enthused Isobel. “The music fitted the horse, it was powerful and well prepared. The horse was a little nervous but Nicola handled it so well, and the horse shone!” The pair took the competition to a new level with a fantastic 73.58%.
And so, the final 1-2-3 was Sadie Smith, Nicola Buchanan and Jayden Brown. Sadie proudly led the trio in for the presentation in front of an enthusiastic crowd. The twenty-eight-year-old who’d won the previous day’s Intermediate I Gold was clearly exhilarated and moved to take the coveted Freestyle title. “I don’t know what to say,” said an emotional Sadie. “I’m so overwhelmed.”
“Carl [Hester] said ‘make sure you do what you did yesterday’ so I did, and he was amazing. He got a bit hot in my twos but there were no mistakes and it fitted well to my music. He was proper going for it. He has an amazing extended trot – he just loves doing it, and I was really pleased with the changes and the pirouettes. He can be sharp but I thought I’d try to and make it as hard as I can.
“I’ve had so much success on other horses but do this on him is very special. This means so much to me and he’s a different horse - he used to be nervous but he’s now so much more trusting."
Sadie clearly thinks the world of ‘Mambo’, as he’s known; “He never would have coped with this before so it shows how much more trusting he is. He’s the first horse I’ve trained up towards Grand Prix and I’m so lucky to own him. He’s taught me to ride…and he’s taught me patience.”
“I love this show,” she added. “The atmosphere here, as much as it’s sometimes too much for the horses, is amazing. And it’s a very social show – I love it.”
Next stop for Sadie and Mambo will be a couple of internationals in the UK and continuation of their journey to Grand Prix.
Text by British Dressage - Photo © Kevin Sparrow
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