A class that always draws large crowds at the British Dressage National Championships is the Shearwater Young Horse Final, held over two days. The crowds are enticed partially by the opportunity to see one of the best young horse riders in the world (Eva Moller) try out the top 4 in each age group, and partially in the hope that they might spot a future champion from among the contenders. 

Four Year Olds

There were only 3 British bred horses competing in the Shearwater Young Horse Finals, but after the first day of competition there were two British breds (both British Hanoverians) in the top four and going through to the final day.

Holding on to their initial lead to take the title was Lucinda Elliot on breeder of the moment Judith Davis’s Hawtins Lirica. Lirica is by Lemony’s Nicket, a Hanoverian stallion that made the headlines when he sold for a then record price of 900,000 Euros after winning the 3 year old Bundeschampionate. After some delays the Londonderry son is now competing PSG/Inter I with Micheal Klimke.

Her Elite dam Hawtins Delizia is a daughter of super sire Dimaggio and won her BHHS performance test.

Moving up from third place to second was Bryony Goodwin riding another of Judith’s homebreds –  Hawtins Fianello, a son of Floriscount. Fianello was Hanoverian Regional Foal Champion in 2014 and missed out by just 0.01% on an Elite at the Futurity that year. His dam Hawtins Cardinal Virtue is by Paul Friday’s late Hanoverian stallion Cardinar who had 5 different offspring competing at the Winter Championships and one here at the Nationals.

Both horses were of a similar type, neat athletic chestnuts with plenty of enthusiasm and expression.

Hawtins Lirica (image courtesy of British Dressage)

Five year Olds

There were 4 British breds were entered in this final, although two didn’t come forward. That left Matthew Baker on Roland Tong and Angie Felton’s Kiss and Tell and Rob Barker riding Charlotte Dujardin’s big chestnut mare River Rise Isabella. This AES registered mare was bred by Sarah Tyler Evans and is a half sister to the very promising River Rise Nisa, that Charlotte has already won a number of national titles with, up to Advanced Medium. Tension spoilt the chance of the Don Frederic daughter progressing to the final day but with her big powerful movement she is one to watch.

Kiss and Tell ended the first day on a score of 7.9 and progressed to Sunday’s final judging. The AES registered gelding was bred by Rebecca Hoare and Roland bought the very eye catching gelding as foal. The judges praised his positive attitude and big canter. He certainly held his own in a very hot final and finished in third place. He is a son of Kardinal (Krack C x Stedinger) out of a show jumping bred Belgian mare.

Six Year Olds

For me this was the highlight of the young horse classes, as the 2016 Four Year Old Champion and the 2017 Five Year Old Champion completed a hat-trick of victories. This was another championship for Hawtins Stud when their gorgeous mare Hawtins San Floriana gave Eva Moller the most fantastic ride to compensate for some moments of tension that had momentarily dropped her to second place on the first day.

The mare has such presence and is already looking every inch a Grand Prix prospect. As she is part owned and ridden by one Charlotte Dujardin, she might actually be an international medal prospect. The judges commented that the mare had a lot of stage presence with all three paces absolutely clear. The trot has a wide range to come and go and the canter shows a clear ability to collect. I dont think there is any doubt she will be training on to Grand Prix.

San Floriana is a daughter of the Oldenburg sire San Amour, a horse who showed a lot of Grand Prix capability in his home work but was not actually competed past young horse classes. San Amour is, as his name suggests, a son of Sandro Hit out a Plaisir D’Amour daughter. He is an established sire of Bundeschampions and is now doing the same here in the UK and seems to be particularly producing good daughters.

Her motherline couldn’t get much better as her dam is the Elite mare Floriana. Floriana represented Great Britain at the World Young Horse Championship in Verden and is now competing at Small Tour. Her dam is one of Hawtin Stud’s foundation mares – World Classic who is also the grand dam of our World Silver Medallist Hawtins Delicato.

Hawtins San Floriana (image courtesy of British Dressage)

In an all mare final four, there were two other British bred hopes competing. Claiming the eventual runners up spot was Georgina West’s BKS Fantasia, ridden by Sara Gallop and bred by Blackington Stud in Oxfordshire. This small daughter of Furstenball and the Rubin Royal daughter Real Ruby represented the UK at the World Championships at Ermelo. She made a very nice picture with the tiny Eva Moller and showed a really active hind leg especially in canter. Personally I felt she shows slight over flexion in the hind pasterns but nothing could detract from her super result.

Headmore Stud may have lost their great mare Rubinsteena early this year, but her daughter Headmore Bella Ruby shows she is living up to the family tradition. Ridden by Alice Oppenheimer, the pair replicated their fourth place in last year’s final and after a few small contact issues when Eva rode her, showed her super character and clear paces. After a busy week it was felt the mare could have shown a more supple connection but she certainly held her own. Bella Ruby is a daughter of the great sire Belissimo.