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Dujardin shone with youngster horses at NAF Winter Championships ’17

The final day of the 2017 NAF Five Star Winter Championship was a celebration of all things dressage and the perfect end to five packed days. 934 tests, 2808 dressage test sheets to produce 29 champions. Dujardin took four title championships with her younger mounts.

Charlotte Dujardin and Florentina gold on the Advanced Medium clas at NAF Winter Championship (photo courtesy: Piaffe).

 

The spectator base grew tenfold around 14.20 Thursday afternoon all in expectation of a certain rider…but that rider was the current Olympic, World and European Champion, Charlotte Dujardin aboard one of her high hopes for the future, Mount St John Stud’s Mount St John VIP. And the duo didn’t disappoint.

It was an assured performance where accuracy, flair and confidence flowed freely; every mark coaxed and earned from the Vivaldi youngster for a score of 76.61% for victory by nearly 7%. Charlotte was clearly delighted with her young charge; “She’s just like a little toy. I can go up or down the gears and she takes everything in her stride. And what’s best is you get the same amazing attitude at a show as you do at home,” she beamed.

So what’s next for the pair? “It’s tempting to keep pushing her as the talent is there. She’s already got changes and a touch of piaffe/passage but we’ll be careful with her; maybe do a few six year old classes and she’s qualified for the Medium Gold Summer Regionals,” Charlotte explained. “There’s no need to get her out for the experience as her temperament is so good so we’ll keep the wear and tear to a minimum to save her for Grand Prix.”

VIP was sourced by Mount St John’s Emma Blundell as a foal and Charlotte has ridden her through the grades. They made their championship debut last year at the LeMieux Nationals and took the Shearwater five year old Championship and Dodson & Horrell Novice Gold.

The day was extra special as VIP became a mum for the first time last night via embryo transfer – a colt by Foundation which Charlotte has already claimed for herself but Emma may have something to say about that!

 

Charlotte Dujardin gave the bumper crowds enjoying an Easter Saturday at Hartpury a master class in test riding to take first and second in the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Gold Championship.  Her first ride was with the striking grey mare Florentina (Vivaldi x Rubels), owned by Paul and Wendy Dockley and Charlotte.   ‘Flora’ is rightly earning quite a following with the fans having won championships at Stoneleigh as a five and six year old but this was her first trip to Hartpury.

She rode her normal accurate, beautifully presented test but was sympathetic to the mare’s relative inexperience and didn’t overly push for maximum ‘flash’.  The judges rewarded the accuracy, flow and harmony with 74.25% and the lead.

It was then on to the relatively unknown En Vouge.  Charlotte brought the son of Jazz from Sandra Biddlecombe, who owns the yard where she keeps her young horses and he’s been very lightly campaigned as he’s taken time to mature and develop.  The picture was quite different to her previous ride in that there was extreme power but quite a bit of nervous tension. What was constant was Charlotte’s clever ringcraft and ability to coax marks.  72.15% was the score – not enough to take the lead but to lie second.

Flora’s 74%+ score couldn’t be matched and the mare had a third championship title to her name. As she came out of the prize giving, co-owner Paul Dockley looked at his pride and joy and said; “She moves me to tears every time!”

Charlotte explained they spotted Flora on a video ahead of the Brightwells sale as a two year old and instantly fell in love with her – “We all did!” added Wendy.  “I knew we had to have her,” added Charlotte.  “It was a risk with a two year old as you don’t know what you’re going to end up with her but we got her and said ‘thank God’ – I really do believe in fate.”

“She was an angel to break with immense trainability and isn’t fazed by anything.  She’s a real worker and loves to perform, almost rises to the occasion and I love just how brave she can be,” enthused Charlotte.

She continued; “I put a lot of pressure on myself today so perhaps rode a bit ‘safe’ but I’m pleased with her.  I’m my own harshest critic so would say maybe I wish I’d have been braver.  I have to remind myself that she’s only seven and rides like an older horse.  You ask her any question and she always answers ‘yes, yes, yes!’; she’s just so genuine.”

On her ride on En Vogue she said; “When I came out of the arena, I was quite emotional.  It’s been quite a challenging journey with him.  When we broke him at three, he bucked a saddle clean off and when it came to teaching him changes, he just threw himself on the floor.  He’s a horse that crying out to do Grand Prix and I’m so excited for his future.  In the arena, I could feel his heart beating but he really tried.  I’ve been really careful to not put him under pressure and build confidence but only going out to small local shows and he just gets better and better.  Flora was born with the perfect attitude but him, I’m going to have to teach it.”

She ended in saying; “I’m so proud of the both today.  To be honest, to bring a baby on like these two to such a level is better than any medal – those are just a bonus!”

 

Charlotte Dujardin has provided a masterclass of riding all week with her lovely young horses, continuing Sunday’s afternoon with a beautiful ride in the Albion Medium Gold. Her partner this time was Brioso II, Carl Hester’s Benetton Dream x Dimaggio seven-year-old. The pair was awarded 73.79% with Lara Dyson and Jazzed Up taking the runner-up spot (71.72%).

Talking about how the mare was discovered, Charlotte told : “A friend of Carl’s, Caroline Dawson, rang him and said there was a horse with good blood lines which he should look at. He sent someone along and she [Brioso] passed so he bought her. She was a just-backed five year old so was a bit behind in her training but she’s proving to be a proper ‘rough diamond’. I’d certainly say that she has the talent for GP.

“I’m so pleased with how she coped with the atmosphere here as really she’s so inexperienced. The more I did [in the test], the better she got.

So how did Charlotte feel her week’s work went at Hartpury; “I’m very pleased. It’s exciting to get the younger horses out and I have a great group of up and coming stars across the scale for the future – I can’t wait!”

Elementary Gold
Charlotte Dujardin – Mount St John VIP – 76.61%

Novice Gold
Charlotte Dujardin – River Rise Nisa – 71.55%

Advanced Medium Gold
Charlotte Dujardin – Florentina VI – 74.25%
Charlotte Dujardin – En-Vogue – 72.15% –

Medium Gold
Charlotte Dujardin – Brioso II – 73.79%