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LeMieux National Dressage Championships: DAY FOUR

last updated on September 19, 2016 13:10

LeMieux National Dressage Championships: DAY FOUR

Yesterday, Gloucestershire’s Carl Hester earnt his ninth National Champion title at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships (15 – 18 September 2016), creeping ever closer to the record held by Lorna Johnstone since 1974 of 13.

Aboard Coral Ingham’s 15-year-old Wolkenstein II gelding, Wanadoo, Carl Hester danced to the beat of his London 2012 ride, Uthopia’s music to earn a fantastic score of 79.78% - with four of the five judges awarding over 80%.

With the scores from the Horse Health Grand Prix Freestyle and LeMieux Grand Prix Championships combined to achieve an overall total, Carl and Wanadoo toppled last year’s LeMieux National Champions, Charlotte Dujardin and Anne Seifert-Cohn’s 10-year-old German gelding, Barolo, who scored 77.20% in the Freestyle.

“It’s been a really lovely day,” enthused Carl after an energetic prize giving racing around the arena with second-placed Charlotte Dujardin and Barolo (77.20%). “Yesterday, Wanadoo was a little bit rusty, because I’d been in Rio for three weeks I thought he’d lacked a show as I hadn’t been able to fit any in. But today he’s back on form and I did my music from London 2012, so it gave me a bit of a lift. The music was originally made for Uthopia, who was a much bigger mover than Wanadoo, but it was really good because it made me really ride forward to keep up with the music – which seemed to suit him today because he responded well. I mean, to be just shy of 80% on Wanadoo is a great, great achievement for me, him, his owner Coral and the team at home, who’ll be very excited with how he went today.”

Carl and Wanadoo may have only been together for just over a year, but already they have celebrated great success together with international wins at Saumur, Hickstead, Jerez, Keysoe and Compiegne CDIs

“I’m never disappointed with Wanadoo, he’s the cutest horse on the yard. He always neighs at me in the morning when I walk around – and he’s the only one, I might add,” he laughed. “I’m not Dr Doolittle but he always screams at me, and of course that endears him to me, we have a very lovely relationship.

A favourite with the packed Nationals crowd – who roared with delight when Carl and the delightful chestnut gelding were announced winners – Carl’s schedule for the remainder of the year looks jam-packed as he juggles international competitions with both Wanadoo and his Olympic ride, Nip Tuck. With such talented horses in the hands of the ‘master of dressage’, the future is definitely looking bright for Team GBR.

Equine Construction Advanced Medium Gold 

Achieving the highest score of the four-day Championships and her fourth title of the Championships, Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle reigned supreme in yesterday’s Equine Construction Advanced Medium.

Charlotte and the Mount St John Stud-owned seven-year-old daughter of Fidermark scored an incredible 78.82%, more than six percent ahead of the rest of the field in a super-hot Championship final where nine competitors breached the 70% barrier. Freestyle is a cracker – the complete package - and great asset to Charlotte’s arsenal of horsepower.

“She has a complete heart of gold,” said Charlotte of Freestyle. “She always tries her hardest and she finds the work so easy.”

The beautiful bay mare moved through each element of the test with great poise and effortless expression. Expertly ridden by Charlotte, the high quality work raked in the marks from judges Peter Storr at C, Jo Graham (E), Andrea Smith (H), Mary-Ann Horn (M) and Felicity Scott (B).

Freestyle was also hot on the heels of Charlotte’s other ride, Hawtins Delicato, in Thursday’s Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges. “She was amazing! It was only her second ever PSG, the changes cost her the class but she’s only seven, I’m so excited about her future!” smiled Charlotte.

Childéric Saddles Elementary Gold 

Charlotte Dujardin continued to have an unbelievable week at Stoneleigh as she claimed her fifth title in the Childéric Saddles Elementary Gold Championship.

Aboard Carl Hester’s six-year-old mare, Brioso II (Benetton Dream x Dimaggio), Charlotte took an early lead in the class with her impressive score of 75.88%. Unable to topple the eventual champion but producing a brilliant test to score 73.47%, second place went to Paul Hayler with the six-year-old Vivaldi-sired gelding, FJ Veyron – owned by Fiona James.

Charlotte had an incredibly busy schedule over the four days combining her rides with the demands of press interviews and appearances. “I’m delighted I’ve remembered every test!” she laughed. “On Saturday I got on my first horse at 6.45 and didn’t get off until six in the evening. I’m so pleased with how it’s gone, it’s really good for the owners. They’re all different horses and they’re a little green at their levels but they’ve all performed so well.”

It’s exciting for Charlotte and British dressage that she has such a wealth of young horsepower waiting in the wings. “After the announcement of Valegro’s retirement, people think that’s it for me but I’m very lucky to have fantastic owners behind me and these talented young horses to compete.”

Last night Charlotte headed off to New York with Valegro to perform a freestyle demo at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show. She told British Dressage yesterday: “I go to the airport this evening and fly to New York in the morning. Valegro is already on his way. It’s in Central Park so I’m really excited. Everyone loves to see Valegro and I’m always amazed at the emotion he creates in people. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Champions crowned 

Yesterday, the audience was treated to the exciting finale of the Shearwater Young Horse championships. Three titles were there for the taking and twelve combinations aging from four to six-years-old. For the climax of this finale, Eva Möller was rider judge, a German young horse trainer at the world renowned Hof Kasselmann in Hagen. She put each of the young horses through their paces who, though young, demonstrated their spectacular talent and took the LeMieux National Dressage Championships’ atmosphere in their stride making for a very close showdown in each of the age groups.

Shearwater Four-Year-Old Championship 

In the four-year-old class, the Hawtins stud in Gloucester celebrated success defending their four-year-old champion title, won last year by Hawtins Duchessa. This time was the turn of Hawtins San Floriana ridden by Bryony Goodwin. Eva Möller said of the winner: “This is a high quality mare and she gave me a very good feeling.” Known as ‘Flo Minor’ at home, Hawtins San Floriana is the daughter of Hawtins Floriana, an elite Hanoverian performance mare who was also ridden by Bryony in the Saracen Horse Feeds Inter I. “She’s come out better and better each day, I felt she was a little conservative yesterday but today she was fantastic, coping really well for a four-year-old in this atmosphere” said a thrilled Bryony.

The British-bred San Amour-sired mare scored the highest of all four-year-olds at the semi-finals and in the first round at the Nationals. “She’s a precocious mare and can be a bit of a diva!” said Judith Davis, breeder and owner of Hawtins Stud, “She’s very rideable and is similar to her mother in that she’s not sharp or silly.” Flo now heads to the British Hanoverian Society Show at Keysoe next week to do her Mare Performance test which includes some jumping, “dressage is definitely her discipline!” laughed Judith.

Shearwater Five-Year-Old Championship 

In the five-year-old section, Charlotte Dujardin claimed her sixth title of these championships this time on Mount St John VIP, sired by Vivaldi, who Eva described as “everything a rider wants”. The mare qualified at the Hartpury semi-final posting the highest young horse score on that day.

“She’s amazing, an incredible mare to ride and everything you would want from a five-year-old” said a delighted Charlotte who is evidently very excited about this young prospect. “I knew Eva would love her as she’s so light in the hand and responsive to your leg. After she’d ridden her, Eva said she was ‘beautifully trained’ which was a really nice compliment.”

Shearwater Six-Year-Old Championship 

The only amateur rider to contest these finals was Caroline Church and together with her own San Marco, they topped the six-year-old section. “I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Caroline, “I totally believe in that horse and wanted him to be recognised. He’s very cheeky, as he’s such a big character you have to get on him and ride him, but there’s not a nasty thought in his head.”

Hampshire-based Caroline, a self-employed writer and illustrator of children’s books, only bought the horse in April of this year and quickly qualified him for the Nationals. “Isobel Wessels bought him as a three year old and sent him to Matt Hicks to be backed and hacked lightly, which is where I’m now based. Two years later having been with Lucy Cartwright, Isobel said to Matt that she was thinking of selling Marco and asked if he knew of everyone and he thought of me. I went to try him with my trainer, David Hunt, and I knew he was the one!”

The sky’s the limit for this combination with Caroline set on Grand Prix in the future. “Now I’ve got such a good horse I don’t want to have any limitations!”

All photos from Kevin Sparrow Photography

For full results click here