Becky Moody, one of Britain’s top producers of young dressage horses, carried off the £2,000 first prize for winning the NEXGEN seven-year-old championship at Hickstead, West Sussex, on her impressive homebred Jagerbomb.
The Dante Weltino x Jazz gelding - winner of the seven-year-old title at the British National Championships - was awarded a final mark of nine by NEXGEN judges Isobel Wessels and Spanish Olympic rider Severo Jurado Lopez. This was the top score of the three-day show (23-25 September).
Becky said: “He’s a total legend. As a four-year-old he was actually a little bit plain and boring, and I nearly sold him - I’m so glad now I didn’t. He was almost lazy when he was very young, but he has a real talent for the grand prix work, and that is what is making him sharper and sharper as he gets stronger. He has the most incredible heart and is such a trier - you can’t fault his temperament.
“He went well today - we didn’t quite have the power in the extensions he can sometimes have; they are his weakest link at the moment, and they are a strength thing. But, for a seven-year-old, he’s very solid in the changes and the pirouettes and so on - he finds it very easy.
“I really liked the instant, honest but positive feedback from the judges - it was brilliant - and it was great to win such good prize-money. That’s so rare in our sport.”
Becky also took third place on Jo Cooper’s Electron x Diamond Hit gelding Jack Diamond with a mark of 7.94.
Slotted in between her mounts in second was Sara-Jane Lanning on Hawtins Lirica, a Lemony’s Nicket x Dimaggio mare owned by Nicola Seale. They scored a final mark of 8.26.
Dante Weltino also sired the NEXGEN six-year-old dressage winner Swanmore Dantina, who posted a final score of 8.94 under Sadie Smith. Out of a Charatan mare and British-bred by Ben St John James, Swanmore Dantina is owned by Sadie and Steve Reading, and she was another to win her class at the British National Championships recently.
Sadie said: “I’ve really enjoyed riding in the NEXGEN series. The specially-written tests are inviting, and I liked the option as to whether to do a flying change or a simple change, depending on what suits your horse at this stage of its training. I took the risk of the flying change today, which obviously paid off today.
“I was really pleased with my mare, and this is a great venue with a good atmosphere.”
New Zealand rider Sarah Wilkinson was close behind Sadie with a final score of 8.46 on her own Desperado x Johnson mare Koko. Dylan Deutrom took third place in this hotly-contested final with Helen Bell’s King Boy (Dream Boy x United) on a mark of 8.30.
The NEXGEN four-year-old championship went to Kerry Mackin and Milano 111. Sandra Baxter’s Dream Boy x Jazz gelding was awarded a final score of 8.44, giving him the edge over second-placed Anna Burns, riding Jo Cooper’s Governor mare Magic Dream, who finished on 8.34.
Third was Melissa Chapman on her own Majesteit TCE, an In Style x Tango gelding who scored 7.94.
The final class of the show, the NEXGEN five-year-old final, was won by Sarah Rogers. She claimed first and second places on the Bechtolsheimer-bred and owned pair, Full Moon II and Forest Hill, with scores of 8.50 and 8.26 respectively.
Full Moon II (Fürstenball x Gribaldi ) was the novice gold winner at the recent British National Championships, franking the form of these NEXGEN finals - which are only in their second year - once again.
Sarah, who spent five years working for Klaus Balkenhol and then three in Paris with Marietta Almasy, said: “We’re delighted with both horses’ progress. For such big horses, we are not pushing them too much and bit by bit they feel like they are giving us more and more.
“Full Moon is a real gentleman. He loves attention in the stable - he’d be happy if someone would just stay in his stable and cuddle him. We see huge potential in him and love his way of going. Both of the horses go out in the field every day, go hacking, go on the water treadmill - we try to keep it varied for them and give them a happy life.
“The NEXGEN series is a great concept, and the final is inviting for these young horses; they get to experience enough atmosphere without it being too overwhelming.”
The NEXGEN series of classes for young showjumpers, dressage horses and eventers was launched last year, and riders have praised its format and the excellent prize-money on offer for each of the four age classes at the Hickstead final.
NEXGEN director Victoria Wright said: “We’ve had a brilliant three days with great feedback from riders and owners. This is a new series showcasing the very best of British-based equine talent in the three Olympic disciplines, and we have big plans and high hopes for the future; we’d like to emulate Germany’s Bundeschampionat, and we will keep working towards producing an event of that significance.
“We were fortunate to secure very well-respected judges for all the disciplines, and spectators particularly enjoyed listening to Severo Jurado Lopez’s insightful and educational feedback after each dressage test.”