Meet the new British Dressage 4-year-old Champion for 2019

Shearwater Insurance were delighted to be able to continue their sponsorship of the British Dressage Young Horse Championships for a further year.  The young horse classes really are a highlight of the National Dressage Championships with dressage fans, breeders and riders alike flocking to the arena to listed to the comments of the ride judge in the final round of judging.

The 2019 final delivered an exciting line up of young horses, with a number of British bred horses taking centre stage.  The judging line up consisted of Susan Baarup, from Denmark, David Hunt and ride judge Philip Hess, son of the great Christoph Hess.


The final four for the hotly contested Four-Year-Old Final featured the British bred Hawtins Floresta and Waverley Fellini, alongside stallion King IV and the German bred mare Special Diva. As with each of the age group finals, ride judge Philip Hess spent time with each horse to carefully consider each horse, their strengths and weaknesses, their natural way of going and they potential as a world class dressage horse.

The Sezuan sired German mare, Special Diva presented as the clear favourite.  The talent that this elegant mare possesses shone above the rest and displayed clear potential for future work and progress.

“The winner we liked very much.  Yesterday (in the qualifying) she was a bit spooky, jumping around, but the rider handled her very well and we saw the quality in her, and today even more quality as she relaxed” commented Susan Baarup.

For the crowd, and the competitors, the key interest in these classes is not so much the wow factor that these young horses present in the arena but the comments from the judge’s panel that are presented to the crowd at the final line up.

“She has a very clear walk. The trot was very active, and you can see that she has a very nice mechanic going into the passage in a few years’ time. The canter has a real uphill tendency and she can relax and came back again.”

It was clear from the comments and narrative delivered by Philip Hess that he was enjoying the ride on ‘Diva’, with the rideability being awarded a 9.

“The rideability was outstanding, and Philip was amazed.  She ended up with a 9.5 for how she performed today, and general impression was awarded a 9.5”

Special Diva is based at Emile Faurie’s and is ridden by stable jockey Tom Goode.  ‘Diva’ was brought over from Germany by Isabelle Bergmann with the aim of competing in the age classes this year and targeting the five-year-old World Young Horse Championships in 2020.

“She’s so intelligent and finds everything so natural” added Tom. “She really is the most amazing horse I’ve ever sat on!”

Diva is clearly a horse that Tom, and Philip, love to ride.  “He canter feels like you’re flying and she has the perfect mis of being hot but never naughtier.  Her temperament and trainability are superb.”

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