Hester’s victorious debut with Delicato

Carl Hester’s Grand Prix debut with his latest superstar Hawtins Delicato was a highlight of three very busy days of top-quality dressage at Keysoe Premier League (27-29 April 2018).

Carl Hester and Hawtins Delicato(photo © Kevin Sparrow).

Only seen once before at Grand Prix, when piloted by Charlotte Dujardin, the British-bred 10-year-old (Diamond Hit x Regazzoni) gave an assured performance to score 74.97%, with judge Mark Ruddock awarding 77%. There were mistakes in the tempi changes and in one pirouette but this was an exciting performance with so much potential for the future. ‘Del’s’ next appearance will be at Windsor Horse Show where the size of the crowd will make for a more challenging venue. He is owned by Carl, Ann Cory and Anne Evans.

Second-placed Isobell Wessells and Chagall (Contendro x Graf Grannus) were the only other combination to score over 70% but went on to win Sunday’s Grand Prix Freestyle, again scoring over 70%. Isobel was riding to a new music programme produced by Tom Hunt and featuring stirring classical music which is a great fit for Chagall who is an imposing 17.2hh and has loads of presence in the ring.

The Prix St Georges (PSG) are a great place to spot the stars of the future and the competition at Keysoe was fierce. These classes are always well-supported as they give riders the opportunity to ride three times over the course of the show. It did mean long days for the judges with one class lasting seven hours.

Queen of the PSG was Nikki Barker riding Vivien Gleave’s Spielberg son, Durable, a horse who just oozes power and elasticity. They had the top PSG score of 75.96%. Despite his size and muscle, Durable is exceptionally light on his feet and is developing the balance to cope with his powerful movement.

Headmore Davina, who won Saturday’s Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges, has long been marked out for stardom and already holds a number of national titles. Most recently she was Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Champion at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships. Another British-bred (by Dimaggio), Davina has only just stepped up to PSG – her first affiliated PSG was the day before where she came third. She also won one of the Equine Construction Advanced Medium classes and has now completed her qualifications for the Nationals at PSG and Advanced Medium.

The third PSG class was won by Nicola Buchanan and Half Moon Dark Magic – another Dimaggio offspring. The pair had a personal best PSG score and also took a second place in the Saracen Horse Feeds Inter I.

Friday’s Inter I was won by Paul Friday and Brian and Carol Hurst’s Romano’s Rafiel, a British-bred, nine-year-old stallion by Rubin Star N. He started at Inter I last Autumn and this was the pair’s best score to date at this level.

The other Inter I was won by para dressage multi-gold medallist, Sophie Wells and C Fatal Attraction. The 11-year-old Fidertanz gelding owned by Charlotte Hogg was Sophie’s freestyle gold medallist at 2017’s European championships. The talented duo have a dual goal of a National Championship place, as well as representing Britain in Tryon for the World Equestrian Games.

Sunday’s Inter I honours went to Amy Woodhead and the eye-catching Branduardi, a 12-year-old Breitling W stallion owned by the Peaces. This horse always lights up the arena and his performance obviously appealed to judge Anita Darken who awarded him 75.66 from her position at H.

Annabella Pidgley is proving a formidable pony competitor with a talented string of ponies. She won both Pony tests, one each for Cognac IX and Ine.

Top-scorer in the young horse classes was Robecca Cowderoy on her own and Maria Wellman’s Fosshey Fortunatus. The pair won the Hickstead International Five-Year-Old Qualifier with almost 80% despite it being the first time Fortunatus had competed away from home.

Valegro’s full-sister Weidyfleur II was represented in the Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Six-Year-Old qualifier with a win for Claire Hester’s Her-Genius (Lord Leatherdale x Negro) ridden by Amy Woodhead.


WINNERS – Friday 27 April
Equine Construction Advanced Medium
Freya F.S.T – Emily Harris, 71.27%

Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
Half Moon Dark Magic – Nicola Buchanan, 72.54%

Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
Romano’s Rafiel – Paul Friday, 70.61%

LeMieux Grand Prix
Hawtins Delicato – Carl Hester, 74.97%

Hickstead Young Horse International 5YO Qualifier
Fosshey Fortunatus – Rebecca Cowderoy, 7.98

Hickstead Young Horse International 6 YO Qualifier
Furstendorf – Lucy Cusack, 6.68

WINNERS – Saturday 28 April
Saracen Feeds Intermediate I
C Fatal Attraction – S Wells, 73.82%

Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
Headmore Davina – Alice Oppenheimer, 73.33%

Equine Construction Advanced Medium
Freya F.S.T, – Emily Harris, 69.91%

Pony Team Test
Annabella Pidgley – Cognac IX, 71.37%

Hickstead National 5YO Qualifier
Swanmore Wynter – Jezz Palmer, 7.8

Hickstead National 6YO Qualifier
D’Amore Of Class – Jane Goodridge, 7.16

Advanced Medium Freestyle
Touchdown M – Izzy Palmer, 69.5%

Prix St Georges Freestyle
Leonidas III – Hannah Esberger Hancock 75.54%

Intermediate I Freestyle
Union – Molly Smockum Owen 72.5%

Grand Prix Freestyle
Chagall – Isobel Wessells, 71.38%

WINNERS Sunday 29 April
Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges
Durable – Nikki Barker, 75.96%

Cavalor Intermediate II
Artist – Vicki Winfield Thompson, 69.08%

Pony Individual Test
Ine – Annabella Pidgley, 69.51%

Equine Construction Advanced Medium
Headmore Davina – Alice Oppenheimer, 71.58%

Saracen Horse Feeds Intermediate I
Branduardi – Amy Woodhead, 72.94%

Shearwater Young Horse 4YO Qualifier
Woodcroft Liberte Mon Amie – S Britton, 36.2

Shearwater Young Pony 4YO Qualifier
Dazzle II – C Rollinson, 38.8

Shearwater Young Horse 5YO Qualifier
Iwan – Rudy Daenekint, 41.6

Shearwater Young Horse 6YO Qualifier
Her-Genius – Jennifer Martell, 39.8

Shearwater Young Pony 6YO Qualifier
BKS Daisy Duke – Ashley Jenkins, 36.4