It is an honour to sponsor one of the most popular classes at the British Dressage National Championships. Spectators filled the seating around the arena to await the final round of judging and listen to the running commentary from ride judge Philip Hess.
Judges Susanne Baarup, from Denmark, David Hunt and Philip Hess, son of the highly regarded Christoph Hess and well respected in his own right as a test rider at the Bundeschampionate.
Top honours went to the sensational Freeman, ridden by British Grand Prix rider Hannah Biggs and owned by Equine Construction’s David and Sarah Johnson, who becomes the only horse to be awarded a 10 in the final.
“The trot movement feels really nice,” explains Hess, “it is important to keep him soft and smooth. I can get nice cadence – a really good feeling.”
Moving on to the canter work Hess looked to become even more enamoured with the Foundation x Ehrentanz gelding, “a 6-year-old now need to site more on the hind, and I feel super comfortable. I feel I can make a canter pirouette – Prix St George next year maybe for this horse and I’m sure the rider can aim here over the next few months.”
“Extended canter is developing and feels mega, and the collecting is super” some sensational comments from the judges.
Before dismounting Hess added further praise for both the horse’s natural ability and also the training provided by Hannah Biggs. “Definitely a horse that’s on the right line of training. A very positive impression and very relaxed. I’m absolutely happy and a big complement for this wonderful sport horse and rider for the way of training.”
Speaking after the prize giving owners Sarah and David Johnson added, “Freeman being awarded a 10 for his walk was the most incredible feeling! We always knew he was special and have deliberately taken his training very slowly to give him time to enhance the trot, the walk is very difficult to improve.
“Philip Hess’ comments were wonderful and really highlighted that Hannah’s training has been impeccable! The fact he used the word MEGA during Freeman’s canter was definitely a stand out moment.”
“I always knew he was a special horse and am just so proud of him. It was the most nerve wracking five minutes of my life watching Philip ride him. I know what an amazing feeling the horse gives and when I heard Philip use the word ‘mega’ at one point I knew he could feel it too. It’s such an honour to ride this horse” commented Hannah.
In a change to the placings in the qualifying round, Judith Davis’ Hawtins Quattro finished as reserve champion, under Lucinda Elliot.
“He had a really positive impact when the rider warmed him up for us. From the first two rounds – I like him. He’s nice in the contact, good in my hands, listening to my aids. I would like to ride him more but my time in Britain is running out!” exclaimed Hess.
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