She’s back…and with a new 80% PB
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Charlotte Dujardin made a welcome return to the competition arena with Emma and Jill Blundell’s Mount St John Freestyle in the Theraplate UK Grand Prix as part of the CDI3* at The Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show in challenging wet conditions. The ten year old Fiedermark sired mare looked delighted to be back and despite the heavy rain and dull conditions, their performance lit up the Castle Arena.
There was a slight miscommunication at the start of the first passage/piaffe tour but apart from that, it was clear that the time off has benefited the combination to mature and develop. The judges panel were unanimous in declaring them the winners with an aggregate score of 80.34% - a new international personal best for the duo as it’s the first time they’ve broken the 80% barrier in the Grand Prix.
A delighted Charlotte said; “I have to admit I was a bit nervous going in. It all felt a bit ring rusty but she was really good. She’s been great at home so it’s good to be back out. Considering she’s not been in the ring for such a long time it was amazing; she was so enthusiastic. She just tries so hard and I over-rode the first passage so he was really reactive.
“She just feels now like she needs a few more tests; she’s still so inexperienced. Alan and I had a little tear on the way out as it just felt special to be out again. It’s been a bit testing with the weather but I’m over the moon with her. I felt I wanted to do so well but big or small, she does it all!”
Behind Charlotte and Freestyle, it was the battle of the 75% scorers but the best was Gareth Hughes with wife Rebecca’s Classic Briolinca. The duo was still flying high from their performance at Compiengne CDIO a matter of weeks ago and today’s Grand Prix was even better. There was just a blip at the start of the one time changes but the rest was fairly fault free. Halts nailed, stunning piaffe and great reach in the half passes all contributed towards 75.76%. Gareth was overheard to say ‘that wasn’t on the script, I was supposed to be fourth!’. Nothing is ever a given in dressage and rarely is there a script!
Charlotte finished in third with her ‘borrowed’ ride, Sonnar Murray-Brown’s Erlentanz. The pairing really wowed at Windsor in May and that form showed again today. Charlotte is deputizing for Sonnar while he mends from a broken leg but each time she competes with ‘Erly’, the likelihood of him being returned diminishes!
It was a worrying time in the warm up when Erly knocked himself but a quick check by Team GBR vet Andre and lots of walking and they were good to go. The test was packed full of energy – almost a little too much at times where the aids for flying changes were misinterpreted but everything was a pleasure to watch and the score was 75.71%, just 0.05 behind Gareth.
Charlotte told us; “We had an issue in the warm up when he kicked himself so I did a lot of walking but I’m really happy with him. He’s more confident and braver in the arena. I clipped him thinking it was going to be warm here and he’s been really sensitive since, particularly in the changes so that’s where our mistakes were. I don’t feel the pressure with him and he’s so much fun to ride.”
Fourth spot went to Carl Hester and Hawtins Delicato, owned by Carl with Lady Anne Evans and Ann Cory and today ‘Del’ was a bit on his toes which lead to some tension and Carl to ride economically. A mistake in the one time changes kept the score in check but they finished on 75.6%, just 0.11 adrift.
The morning got underway early with the Owens Horseboxes five year old trial which was won by Lucinda Elliot with Judith
Davis’s Hawtins Lirica (Lemony’s Nicket x Dimaggio) on an outstanding 81.81 while in the six year old division, supported by The Brooke, victory went to Alex Harwick riding her own Izaloe (Jazz x Rhodium). The final combination in the Braabners seven year old trial took the honours – that was Elizabeth Allen with her own Heraldik (Uphill x Silvano N) on 71.94.
There was also an invitational Advanced Medium class, supported by Rawson Digital and Sarah Higgins took the top two spots
with her rides Elixer, owned by Ellie Barlow, and Penny Lindop’s Easter Bunny II on 70.52% and 68.94% respectively.
The climax of the day was the CDI small tour Inter I Freestyle, sponsored by British Dressage. First to go, Jacqueline Wing Ying Siu set 69.6% with her first ride, Jockey Club Fuerst on Tour and it proved a difficult mark to beat. That was until Carl Hester had his turn. He claimed last night’s Prix St Georges with the British bred chestnut mare Brioso who he owns with Andrew Fletcher and Charlotte Dujardin and he was focused on a small tour double. A lively routine set to equally lively music with a clever, flowing floor plan was a winner, scoring 78.52%.
Carl was clearly delighted with the nine year old who he found in a local point to point yard as a four year old. “She’s just sensational to ride. In three weeks we’ve gone from wild at Somerford, improving at Wellington and then amazing here – she’s gone up the ladder tenfold. She’s classy, supple, athletic and uphill – just so nice to sit on. I’d even say she’s the nicest horse in the mouth I’ve ever ridden. I just enjoy riding her; I don’t have to worry, she’s owned by friends and if I’m loving it, they love it too. I just adore her, she’s a proper diva!”
Luis Principle, last to go with RS Raphael for Portugal, stole into second with 75.8% while Jessica Dunn and Alicante Valley, owned by Jennifer Whittaker, completed the podium on 74.2%.
Sadly the hard-working organising team at Bolesworth have taken the extremely difficult decision to close the show to the public for the rest of the week due to the waterlogged land – it just isn’t safe to park cars. The competition will go on and specators can
watch via www.britishequestriansport.tv.