Nip Tuck makes victorious comeback at Keysoe CDI3*
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The first international of 2019 on British soil has concluded after three days of high quality competition at Keysoe CDI3* in Bedfordshire (15 – 17 March 2019).
Spearheading the large British contingent was Carl Hester with his Rio mount, Jane de la Mare's Nip Tuck (pictured), the gelding making a return to competition following a lengthy break. The large son of Don Ruto’s last appearance was at the 2017 FEI European Championships where he and Carl were British team anchors achieving three top-five placings and were just out of the medal zone in the Freestyle.
Happy to be back in the limelight, Nip Tuck won Friday’s Equine Construction Grand Prix in superb style with a score of 74.45% ahead of Charlotte Dujardin and Erlentanz, who she’s competing whilst owner-rider Sonnar Murray-Brown recovers from a broken leg. Third position was claimed by West Sussex-based Dane, Anders Dahl, with his wife Fiona Bigwood’s Fidermark gelding, Fidelio Van Het Bloemenhof.
With leading names from Great Britain, Ireland, Finland and Denmark on the start list, Saturday’s Equine Construction Grand Prix Freestyle promised to be a thriller, and it didn’t disappoint. Though the final scores were tight at the top, British stalwart Carl Hester managed to edge the win from teammate Charlotte Dujardin earning scores of 78.72% and 77.70% respectively.
“Jane de la Mare and I, who own the horse together, thought he’d probably done the best he could ever do, so last year he had some time off. He’d done four major championships in a row,” says Hester. De la Mare has spent much of that time riding the KWPN gelding who, despite his reputation for spookiness in the ring, “just trots around the village and is as good as gold with her.”
Here, Hester opted to bring Nip Tuck’s Rio music out of retirement, offering the full house of captivated fans the chance to see the remarkable floorplan in an intimate setting. Beginning with an exceptionally ambitious piaffe pirouette, the routine brought the very best of world-class sport to Bedfordshire, proving that Barney, as he’s known to friends and fans, is back – and feeling better than ever.
“It’s been like riding a five-year-old the last few days,” laughs Hester. “Not like riding a fifteen-year-old at all! That’s why we brought him – because he absolutely loves doing this. He was so crafty out there; he knew what was coming at every movement. Every time I got somewhere, he was already there. I nearly got G-forced in the canter pirouettes, I was just flying round, because he knew he had to get around to do the ones! He’s such a smart old thing.”
Now, Barney will represent Great Britain at its illustrious string of home internationals, including Windsor, Bolesworth, and Hartpury, allowing top mount Hawtins Delicato to fly the flag abroad and at championships.
“You know, he’s been at the top of the game and now I just want him to enjoy himself,” says Hester. “I enjoy riding him because he’s just so go-y, but when we brought him back I said, I’ve got no expectations, I just want him to enjoy himself, do some national shows, and Jane can ride him a bit and chill him out.”
While the top spot was claimed by an old friendship, second place was clinched by a fledgling relationship. Charlotte Dujardin took the ride on Sonnar Murray-Brown’s Erlentanz just two weeks ago and while the temporary partnership is still in its earliest stages, it looks set to be an exciting one.
“He’s been as good as gold – he is just SO cool to ride and he really makes me smile, because he just tries his heart out,” enthuses Dujardin who, as Murray-Brown’s trainer, has worked with both horse and rider extensively and was the obvious choice to take the reins when Murray-Brown suffered a broken leg recently.
“He’s not got much experience – he’s only got one year at Grand Prix, so he didn’t want Erly to drop down,” Dujardin explains. “I helped him with the horse anyway, and I had ridden him a few times, but it’s one thing just popping on a few things and another going in there and doing that. But because I’ve trained him and ridden him a bit, that definitely helped me – I wouldn’t do that on a horse I didn’t know. I knew his strengths and his weaknesses already from Sonny, and so it made it easier to just get on. He’s an incredible horse and Sonny’s done a fantastic job at training him.”
Dujardin and Erlentanz also finished second in Friday’s Grand Prix, earning 73.413%, and the class proved to be a useful learning curve in their relationship.
“I overrode it, I was trying too hard, and I was so annoyed about the mistakes in the zig-zags and the ones because they were rider error,” she says. “I learnt from my mistake and for the freestyle, I knew not to override it. These are all the things I’ve got to get to know – how much I can push and can’t push. For me, he lacks a bit of confidence in there, so it’s just about getting him to open up and find that extra gear that he has out here.”
For sidelined Murray-Brown, the experience is a great way to help find the relatively inexperienced horse’s extra gears in conjunction with his trainer.
“He rings me all the time – he rang me and was like, ‘I get more nervous watching you than I do riding him! It’s such a pleasure to watch you ride him!’ So he’s really, really happy,” says Dujardin.
In the Spillers and TRM-sponsored Small Tour divisions, it was a Dujardin domination with her winning the Prix St Georges, Inter I and Inter I Freestyle with Emma Blundell’s Mount St John VIP (Vivaldi x Donnerhall), the mare making her international debut at the age of eight.
“I’ve had her since she was four – she’s owned by Emma Blundell from Mount St John. She’s pretty much won everything she’s done – she’s really, really exciting for the future” commented Dujardin following her third win of the fixture in the TRM Inter I Freestyle.
“She’s amazing – she’s like a little Ferrari to ride, with loads of gears. You can see where she starts off, she’s very normal, but you pick her up and she turns into something really special. And she really does try. She really tries her best and she loves to work – she’s what you’d call a real worker.”
Dominating the Spillers Prix St Georges on Friday, Charlotte and VIP were some five percent ahead of the field, with Anders Dahl (DEN) and Florina 146 (72.059%) and Jessica Dunn and Alicante Valley (70.471%) the only other combinations to top 70%.
“I’ll keep her at Small Tour this year” added Charlotte, “and next year she’ll maybe do Grand Prix. She just takes everything in her stride; she really does have the natural ability to just kick into gear and do it. She’s so happy to do it and she wants to do it, so now we just need to tackle the green things. Like her changes – at home, when she’s relaxed, they’re much straighter, but when she’s hotter I need to do a bit of a hokey-cokey. But it’s just greenness and excitement. She’s still young and inexperienced; to be eight-years-old and doing this is pretty good.”
Denmark’s Anders Dahl was ‘Mr Consistent’ at Keysoe, finishing on the podium with Florina 146 in the Spillers Prix St Georges and TRM Inter I, as well as the Equine Construction Grand Prix with, his wife Fiona Bigwood’s, Fidelio Van Het Bloemenhof. Florina 146 got to within two percent of Mount St John VIP, much to the delight of her rider.
“I bought her a year and a half ago. She’s like a little princess – she doesn’t want to do anything wrong, which can cause problems as she can lose confidence, but she was so relaxed today. Every time she comes out of the stable she just settles a little bit more. At the national shows, you ride and then drive home so you never get to settle them in, but here she’s been able to settle in over a few days and it’s been a real growing up experience for her. Her extended trots, I think, are phenomenal. She just needs to relax that bit more in the ring.”
Rebecca Swain (18), from Surrey, was unbeatable in the Young Rider classes with her athletic UB40 son Bon Jovi, a former ride of Dutch Olympic rider Diederik Van Silfhout. The partnership of two years is going from strength to strength and in recent months has had some notable Small Tour successes, including a 72.85% PSG victory at Keysoe High Profile last December. Here at the CDI, they achieved scores of 68.72%, 69.21% and 72.16% respectively to win the Team-Individual-Freestyle hat-trick.
Keysoe owner and show director, Simon Bates, commented: “It has been a fabulous show and one that we are very proud of. The team have put in a phenomenal amount of work to make it happen and we’re glad that everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves. The atmosphere in the indoor arena Saturday night was electric! A full house in the grandstand seating and the new hospitality area were treated to an incredible display by a truly world class field. We’d like to thank the riders for supporting the event and for providing such a high standard of sport. We look forward to welcoming everyone back, and adding our new Para International classes, in October.”
Equine Construction Grand Prix
1st Carl Hester with Nip Tuck, 74.457% (GBR)
2nd Charlotte Dujardin with Erlentanz, 73.413% (GBR)
3rd Anders Dahl with Fidelio Van Het Bloemenhof, 72.978% (DEN)
Equine Construction Grand Prix Freestyle
1st Carl Hester with Nip Tuck, 78.725% (GBR)
2nd Charlotte Dujardin with Erlentanz, 77.700% (GBR)
3rd Anders Dahl with Fidelio Van Het Bloemenhof, 74.000% (GBR)
Equine Construction Grand Prix Consolation
1st Sara Gallop with Bandreo, 66.449% (GBR)
2nd Alex Hardwick with Royal Chester, 65.435% (GBR)
Spillers Prix St Georges
1st Charlotte Dujardin with Mount St John VIP, 76.941% (GBR)
2nd Anders Dahl with Florina 146, 72.059% (DEN)
3rd Jessica Dunn with Alicante Valley, 70.471% (GBR)
TRM Intermediate I
1st Charlotte Dujardin with Mount St John VIP, 73.765% (GBR)
2nd Anders Dahl with Florina 146, 71.206% (DEN)
3rd Katherine Bailey with Boccelli 6, 69.647% (GBR)
TRM Intermediate I Freestyle
1st Charlotte Dujardin with Mount St John VIP, 77.425% (GBR)
2nd Anders Dahl with Florina 146, 75.150% (DEN)
3rd Katherine Bailey with Boccelli 6, 71.500% (DEN)
Devoucoux Young Rider Team Test
1st Rebecca Swain with Bon Jovi, 68.725% (GBR)
2nd Charlotte Dicker with Sabatini, 68.529% (GBR)
3rd Alexandra Hellings with Uvender V, 68.431% (GBR)
Devoucoux Young Rider Individual Test
1st Rebecca Swain with Bon Jovi, 69.216% (GBR)
2nd Alice Campanella with Gracile D.E.S., 68.824% (ITA)
3rd Alexandra Hellings with Uvender V, 67.794% (GBR)
Devoucoux Young Rider Freestyle
1st Rebecca Swain with Bon Jovi, 72.167% (GBR)
2nd Alexandra Hellings with Uvender V, 70.917% (GBR)
3rd Alice Campanella with Gracile D.E.S., 70.333% (ITA)
Childéric Saddles Junior Team Test
1st Olivia Wrennall with Disneyland, 68.636% (GBR)
2nd Caitlin Burgess with Chocotof, 68.384% (GBR)
3rd Claire Hole with Winnetou G.E.P., 68.232% (GBR)
Childéric Saddles Junior Individual Test
1st Charlotte McDowall with Alivia, 69.902% (GBR)
2nd Olivia Wrennall with Disneyland, 68.137% (GBR)
3rd Claire Hole with Pro-Motion, 67.892% (GBR)
Childéric Saddles Junior Freestyle
1st Charlotte McDowall with Alivia, 73.375% (GBR)
2nd Avery Maude with Double Agent, 69.750% (GBR)
3rd Caitlin Burgess with Chocotof, 69.583% (GBR)
Dodson & Horrell Pony Team Test
1st Annabella Pidgley with Cognac IX, 71.857% (GBR)
2nd Annabella Pidgley with Ine, 70.381% (GBR)
3rd Holly Kerslake with Valhallas Zorro, 69.190% (GBR)
Dodson & Horrell Pony Individual Test
1st Holly Kerslake with Valhallas Zorro, 71.216% (GBR)
2nd Annabella Pidgley with Cognac IX, 70.766% (GBR)
3rd Steffi Tomlinson with Vivassa, 67.477% (GBR)
Dodson & Horrell Pony Freestyle
1st Holly Kerslake with Valhallas Zorro, 71.667% (GBR)
2nd Annabella Pidgley with Cognac IX, 71.500% (GBR)
3rd Olivia Whitelaw with Brouwershaven’s Viceroy, 69.875% (GBR)