Dujardin dominates on Bolesworth day one

Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle continued their upward international trend with a CDI personal best of 79.65% to take the F&Co Equine trading as Theraplate Grand Prix on the opening day of the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show.

The nine year old Fidermark sired mare has matured further since their last outing at Windsor CDI in May and, but for a small blip at the end of the one time changes, was on course for an 80%+ score in only her fourth Grand Prix.

“Damn – half a percent off my 80%!” exclaimed Charlotte. “I was enjoying the changes so much, they felt great and were so off the floor and then missed the last one!” she explained.

Earlier in the draw her mentor Carl Hester set the competition alight with a stunning 77.21% with Ann Cory, Lady Anne Evans and his own Hawtins Delicato who was in only his fourth Grand Prix with Carl. His extended trot work was correct and effortless while the Diamond Hit gelding showed great sit in the piaffe and is a natural for passage. The canter changes were clean but his first canter pirouette was just on the large side to lose a mark or two.

In third, Gareth Hughes put a second horse into the frame for selection for the World Equestrian Games in Classic Briolinca, owned by Julia Hornig and the Hughes family with 74.43%, meaning all top three horses posted new personal bests.

Fourth spot went to Emile Faurie with Hof Kasselmann’s Dono Di Maggio, a horse he rates very highly and 73.22% certainly bodes well. Emile was clearly pleased with the Dimaggio gelding, who was making his debut on British soil, as there were plenty of pats when the final halt was done.

Fiona Bigwood completed the top five with her newest Grand Prix star, Kjaerholm’s Abutsiaq. Riding for her mum Penny and husband Anders Dahl, Fiona scored 71%; it’s clear that there’s more to come from this new combination.

Charlotte summed up in saying; “She surprised me a bit at Windsor so I went in there today and rode a bit more positively. We’re so close to 80% but a few blips just stop it coming. There’s so much more to come and she has so much more to give, she’s such a trier.”

Earlier in the day, the spotlight was on the future as there we viewing trials for young horses for the World Breeding Championships. With classes for five, six and seven year olds, there was a grand selection of young talent and it clearly showed we have some lovely youngsters. In the five year olds, sponsored by Gail Smith & Lavazza Coffee, Charlotte Fry took the honours with the sublime young stallion, Inclusive, owned by Van Olst Horses with a score of 85.8% which included scores of 8.9 for his trot and canter.

Charlotte Dujardin dominated the Lady Derby – Knowsley Safari Park supported six year old class on a score of 86.2% with Hawtins San Floriana, who she jointly owns with Carl. Her canter work earned a score of 9 from judges Paul Hayler and David Trott.

Two further rides in the Owens Horse Boxes seven year olds yielded another winner for Charlotte, this time it was River Rise Nisa, who she owns with Sarah Tyler Evans. David Trott enthused about the mare’s cadence and presence and he was disappointed for Charlotte when there was a small error in the canter flying changes which dropped his mark for that pace. Such was the mare’s attitude in the arena that they awarded a 9 for her ‘perspective’ and her final mark was 79.7%.

The day came to an end with the Small Tour Inter I Freestyle, supported by The Brooke and what a competition it was. For the fourth time today, it was that name on top…Charlotte Dujardin, with an assured performance riding her own and Paul & Wendy Dockley’s Florentina. Drawn last to go, with the score to beat set by Michael Eilberg and his own Daltrey of 73.47% who’d gone just before, Charlotte came in with ‘Flora’ full of intent and rode a very positive test to music which she’d had done by Tom Hunt for her other Small Tour horse, En Vogue, for Liverpool. It was only the horse’s third freestyle but it was a performance with Grand Prix stamped all over it. Separate trot and canter zig zags impressed with their reach, fluency and impression while her extended walk showed supreme relaxation and good ground cover. Impressive extended canters across the diagonal were completed with obedient changes in the corner – it was a ‘clear round’ which essentially blew the judges away and the magic number came up – 80.37%.

In the competition for the placings below Charlotte, it was a close-fought affair. Michael was the only rider on 73%+ with Daltrey, the British bred horse he’s produced from a youngster having bought him from breeder Lynne Crowden. Beneath him, just 1.95% separated third to fifth. Third spot went to Hong Kong rider Jacqueline Wing Ying Siu with Jockey Club Fuerst On Tour with 71.82%, just a smidge behind on 71.75% was Becky Moody and Jo Cooper’s Eureko in fourth. Fifth spot went to reigning Winter Inter I Champions Sadie Smith and Keystone Dynamite on 71.52%.

Charlotte explained; “I felt I’ve lacked a bit of ring experience with her so needed to get her out. We did Somerford Premier League, then I took her to Wellington Premier League to do the Gala Evening PSG which she won on Saturday and then here. She’s unbelievably brave, never silly or spooky. She’s just fantastic, not bothered by anything. She’s done so well in so few competitions.”