Fiona and Del deliver at Hartpury CDI3*

  • Written By: Helen Triggs
  • Published: Wed, 14 Jul 2021 16:52

After the excitement of the selection of the Olympic team, Hartpury CDI3* (07 – 11 July 2021) was a chance for Grand Prix riders in contention for a place on the British team for the European Championships in September to show their skills.

Fiona Bigwood is cementing her relationship with Carl Hester’s former ride, Hawtins Delicato (pictured above), and won both the Grand Prix (GP) and Grand Prix Special by a good margin. ‘Del’ was bred in the UK by Judith Davis and is by Diamond Hit out of a Reggazoni mare. Team bronze medallist at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, Del is now 13 and has been with Fiona since 2020.

Fiona has represented Britain at Pony, Junior and Young Rider levels and was part of the team which won team silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016. It’s never easy to take over a ride on an established horse – and particularly daunting when the rider is Carl Hester! “When you buy a school master, everyone assumes it’s easy but it isn’t. You really need to give it a year to get the relationship formed,” said Fiona. “Carl has done an amazing job and at [GP] level the aids are really refined so it takes time to understand each other. Just a slight movement of the seat can get a reaction.”

“I feel the partnership has come on a lot and I’m really looking forward to the future. He’s a fun horse and everyone on the yard loves him.”

Fiona heads for Belgium next and hopes to get a couple of international shows under her belt before the selection process for the Europeans.

Richard Davison and Bubblingh (above) were second in the Grand Prix and went on to achieve their second-best score in the freestyle of 78.03%. The homebred son of Lingh has always been characterised by his exuberance and sharpness but at Hartpury he was a model of decorum. “I was pleased with him in the Grand Prix because he was almost laid back to the point of normality!” commented Richard. “I actually had to use my legs on a few occasions!”

“In the music he was really switched on and technically everything worked. A couple of judges had us nudging 80%. The lockdown period was good for us as there was time to get some basics more established and I was able to capitalise on that.”

Richard was also thrilled with the success of his pupil Jessica Dunn who was second with Alicante Valley. “She’s been working really hard and enjoying their journey.” Sarah Higgins, another pupil, was competing in her first international Grand Prix on Alfranco, a horse trained and previously ridden by Richard’s wife, Gill. “It’s always nice to see your students moving up the ladder,” he said.

German rider Nikolas Kröncke who won the Inter I and Inter I Freestyle on his stallion Flannell (pictured above) has an interesting background. He was a highly successful youth rider, winning the European Pony title at Hartpury in 1997 and being a member of the gold medal-winning German team at the 2003 Young Rider European Championships. He then took a 17-year break from competing as he attended university in the United States and established his career as a commodities analyst.

His first test in 17 years was at Hunters in April, which he followed up with success at Wellington CDI and now even better at Hartpury. The 10-year-old Fidertanz 2 x De Niro was previously ridden by Nikolas’ wife, German GP rider Kathleen Keller, as well as his mother-in-law. Nikolas seems to have successfully stolen the ride, at least while Kathleen is expecting the couple’s first baby.

“He can already do everything for the Grand Prix. He has fantastic ability for piaffe and passage and his half passes are a dream. It’s more a case of stringing all the movements together – it’s a learning curve for both of us.”

Nikolas is enjoying being able to ride Flannell for fun and as a break from his day job. The couple’s horses are based at the Cotswold Equestrian Club so benefit from training from Olympian Spencer Wilton.

The scores in the Inter I were very close, with Matt Frost and Helga pushing Sarah Millis and Impressive VDC into third place by 0.03%.

Sarah and Impressive (Ed) - pictured above - won the Prix St Georges (PSG), another closely fought class with less than 1% dividing the top three.

Ed (Charmeur x Krack C) was bought as a two-year-old from the Equine Elite auction in Holland and is now eight. He won the World Breeding Championships selection trial (7yo) last year. He placed first in the Inter I and second in the PSG at Wellington CDI in May.

“I’m thrilled with him,” said Sarah. “It’s only his second international competition and third Inter I test. His character is one of his best qualities. He’s amazing to work with as he tries his little heart out. He has good natural balance and good ability for collection.

“I hope to take him abroad to compete this year to give him experience and build his and my confidence in the ring. Travelling will help to find out more about him and how to prepare him [for international competitions]. And I’ll be focussing on developing his work towards Grand Prix.”

It was great to see these new and more familiar combinations challenging for the top spots in international competition and great experience for all the horses at such a busy show.

Top-three results

CDI3* Grand Prix sponsored by Hartpury University & Hartpury College
1. Fiona Bigwood and Hawtins Delicato, 74.08% (GBR)
2. Richard Davison and Bubblingh, 71.69% (GBR)
3. Becky Moody and Famke PF, 71.00% (GBR)

CDI3* Grand Prix Special sponsored by NAF Five Star Superflex
1. Fiona Bigwood and Hawtins Delicato, 72.95% (GBR)
2. Becky Moody and Famke PF, 70.87% (GBR)
3. Mikaela Soratie and Hot Casanova, 70.49% (FIN)

CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle sponsored by NAF Five Star Superflex
1. Richard Davison and Bubblingh, 78.03% (GBR)
2. Jessica Dunn and Alicante Valley, 72.46% (GBR)
3. Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dirubinio, 71.69% (GBR)

CDI3* Prix St Georges sponsored by Hazlewoods
1. Sarah Millis and Impressive VDC, 72.94% (GBR)
2. Andrew Gould and Genie, 72.91% (GBR)
3. Rebecca Hughes and Goldstrike L.E., 72.17% (GBR)

CDI3* Intermediate I sponsored by Hartpury University & Hartpury College
1. Nicholas Krönke and Flanell, 74.32% (GER)
2. Matt Frost and Helga, 73.26% (GBR)
3. Sarah Millis and Impressive VDC, 73.23% (GBR)

CDI3* Intermediate I Freestyle sponsored by Baileys Horse Feeds
1. Nikolas Kröncke and Flanell, 77.97% (GER)
2. Andrew Gould and Genie, 76.38% (GBR)
3. Matt Frost and Helga, 75.42% (GBR)


CPEDI3*, BD Young Pony Championships, Shearwater Semi-Finals and Premier League reports to follow.

Photo © Kevin Sparrow
Words: Helen Triggs