Friday’s Night is Alright
Paul Friday and Christine Trendell’s Winston Bond set the crowd alight on the first gala night at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships to take the Magic Prix St Georges Championship. The impressive 10 year old, by 007, wowed the captivated crowd with some spectacular trot work to ‘Easy Lover’ – a test highlight for Paul. The Warwickshire combination has been at PSG level since last November and won their regional at Addington but this is easily their biggest performance and achievement.
“His trot extensions were brilliant – there was a flying change early on in the test which was late as he hadn’t settled. He felt a bit amazed by the crowd really. He’s a spooky and unconfident horse at times and we’ve been keeping him at Advanced or Advanced Medium to build that confidence,” said Paul.
Matt Hicks was certainly the busiest man in the Hartpury Arena – three horses, three floorplans, mostly to music which arrived on Monday courtesy of Sara Green! He got the evening underway with Sheepcote Walnut, owned by Alison Hill. He then hopped off straight on to the Vaughans’ Casse-Cou before it was the turn of Talent III owned by Matt and Anne Marie Dolan. At the end, he certainly deserved some liquid refreshment!
Leslie Peyton-Gilbert was the first rider to break the 70% barrier fairly early on in the proceedings with Woodcroft Stud and Tim Harris’s Woodcroft Garuda K to keep a healthy lead on 72.04%.
After some great entertainment from John and Charlotte Lassetter and Richard Davison’s masterclass, the final group of riders got underway. First to go was Jo Hamilton and the Rilke-sired Vivaldi V and the jet black gelding, still relatively experienced at this level, put up a sparkling floorplan with the horse looking happy, harmonious and relaxed throughout to score 72.42% and take the lead. Matt Hicks and Talent danced their hearts out and were rewarded with 70.04%.Thten it was the turn of Alice Oppenheimer with her mum Sarah’s Headmore Boadicia who performed to a great West Side Story medley but the electric atmosphere got to the hot chestnut mare and a few mistakes crept in for 66.38%.
Last to go was Paul Friday and Winston Bond who entered to much expectation as the knowledgeable crowd knew the combination is in great form. Early tension was quickly overtaken by athletic prowess and a polished performance. To keep the suspense, the score was kept secret from the crowd while Paul and Bobby Hayler performed their amazing pas de deux, Dancing in the Moonlight. The score of 73.04% was read out and the crowd responded in a wave of acknowledgement.
Runner up Jo Hamilton said of Vivaldi; “I’m so thrilled with him tonight. It’s my first competitive ride to this music so I wasn’t sure how it would go but he was just brilliant. It’s our first season at this level and he’s done me proud. I managed to have a quick 15 minutes with Carl (Hester) yesterday and it was just the job to get us focused.”
The winner also attributes some of his success to Carl; “He found the horse for us after Charlotte Dujardin had campaigned him in Young Horse classes as a six year old – he won the Shearwater Potential International Dressage Horse here at Hartpury. Carl’s training is invaluable and I’m fortunate to be able to train with him almost daily.” Paul also paid tribute to owner Christine Trendell; “She’s so supportive as an owner. We’ve been together for 17 years and I simply couldn’t do it without her.”
Paul now plans to build on his results here and campaign at some Premier Leagues to get some good scores with a view to being ‘spotted’ to go to some shows abroad.