Windsor double for Dujardin
- Written By:
British riders occupied the five top placings once again at Windsor for the Al Shira’aa Grand Prix Freestyle, albeit with a slightly different order. The winner was the same, much to the delight of the near capacity crowd. The name atop the leader board was Charlotte Dujardin with Mount St John Stud’s Mount St John Freestyle (Fidermark x Donnerhall). It was the duo’s second freestyle and Charlotte chose to ‘borrow’ Valegro’s music taken from the How to Train Your Dragon film which she loves riding to. The mare didn’t let her predecessor down in using his music with the programme suiting her lofty passage and piaffe which was one of Valegro’s trademarks. Tight double canter pirouettes, extended trot worthy of 8.5 and 9 and sheer power and ease were highlights.
As the floor plan progresses, so does the drama in the music and the mare tried to please every step of the way. The transitions from passage to piaffe and back to passage are still green however much of tonight’s test looked more ‘crisp’, a sign that the partnership grows with each outing. The five judges were impressed and 81.21% was the final score with all five judges awarding Artistic marks over 80%.
Two riders before Charlotte, Hayley Watson Greaves and her own Rubin Royal sired Rubins Nite took the lead with a fabulous performance and brilliant display of harmony and a score of 73.12%; there’s not a combination on the circuit that love to Freestyle more. Their lead was short lived as Gareth Hughes and Anne Keen’s Don Carissimo were next and edged them out with 73.67% when deb uting their new music featuring tunes frim 'The Greatest Showman'. ‘Darcy’ looked even more settled under the lights of Windsor and his extended walk showed great relaxation and he was altogether more consistent in his piaffe/passage.
Charlotte then came and laid down her challenge to trainer and mentor Carl Hester. He was attempting a first Freestyle with his young British bred partner, Hawtins Delicato and chose to resurrect a crowd favourite music score at this early stage in his career. The Diamond Hit sired gelding is light on his feet but incredibly powerful and looked at ease with the more difficult work such as passage half pass when Carl asked. His rider gambled slightly with larger canter pirouettes so as not to lose the rhythm which worked but sadly despite two attempts at a clean line of one time changes didn’t come off which prevented the high marks but the judges rewarded the overall picture with high marks for harmony. 76.82% was the score – there’s so much potential in this horse and Carl knows it, 80% can’t be far away.
The final challenge came from Richard Davison and Gwendolyn Meyer’s Bubblingh. The Lingh gelding can be tricky and after a relaxed performance last night, he was slightly more on his toes this evening. Richard’s new music isn’t perhaps what we’d expect from him but it’s a real crowd pleaser with undertones from Gangsters Paradise and a number of Robbie Williams tunes and it’s well matched with the floorplan and Bubbles’ paces. He tried hard but the tension showed in walk but there were some tight double canter pirouettes, lovely extended trot and the one time changes down the centre line were exceptionally straight. 73.29% came up as the average of the five judges which put them fourth overall, marginally behind Gareth and just ahead of Hayley for the British top five.