Olympic gold medallists shine in both dressage and jumping as international competition gets underway in the sunshine at Windsor.
The double reining individual Olympic dressage champion Charlotte Dujardin rocked the main arena as international competition got well underway on the second day of CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show in England.
She rode Emma Blundell’s nine-year-old Mount St John Freestyle to a 78.587% victory in Thursday’s gala evening Al Shira’aa grand prix competition. Her mentor Carl Hester came second on Hawtins Delicato (pictured), with fellow Brits Richard Davison, Gareth Hughes and Hayley Watson-Greaves helping to fill the top five places for the host nation.
It was only Charlotte and Freestyle’s second CDI grand prix, but it was another winning one. The mare, by Fidermark out of a Donnerhall dam, belied her inexperience at the level and impressed the judges with her ground covering paces and relaxed attitude. Her high score of 81.522% came from judge at E Peter Store (GBR), while the lowest was 76.957% from the Australian judge Susan Hoevenaars.
“I am chuffed to bits with her,” said Charlotte, 32. “She’s so chilled and really takes everything in her stride, especially as she has really done next to nothing at this international level — I am so, so happy.”
Carl was equally happy with his ride on the British-bred Hawtins Delicato, by Diamond Hit. This was the pair’s international debut as the horse has been competed at small tour by Charlotte until now. They finished on 75.717% and all five judges were in accord with the top two placings. Both scores have fuelled British hopes ahead of the year’s impending championship, the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina (USA) in September.
“You literally have no idea with these young horses how they will react, but this is such a good arena and it gives you an idea of how they will cope with the big occasion,” said Carl. “Delicato is such a lovely horse with so much presence and the judges must, like me, also think highly of him.”
Richard Davison rounded off the all-British podium, taking third place with his home-bred Bubblingh (by Lingh) with 70.8%. Gareth Hughes and Don Carissimo were just 0.1% behind.
All 13 riders now progress onto tomorrow (Friday) night’s freestyle to music. Watch highlights from the thrilling dressage classes at Windsor on H&C on Saturday, May 19, at 7pm Eastern by subscribing.
The opening showjumping class of the day, the Land Rover grades B&C jumping competition, also went Britain’s way, to another Olympic gold medalist. Ben Maher rode Eracantos, a horse recently acquired from The Netherlands and whom Ben thinks very highly of, into top spot.
With 12 double clears in the 36-horse class, Ben’s second-half draw proved advantageous as he shaved 0.05 seconds off runner-up Georgia Thame’s round. Tracy Priest, who set the pace from an early draw finished in third with her grey mare Diamants Aurora.
The first CSI2* class of the show, the St George two-phase, went to dressage rider Richard’s son Joe Davison, riding another home-bred, Vilenco, by Je T’Aime Flamenco. Joe’s double clear in 31.2 seconds was 0.14 seconds faster than South African Charles Luyckx in second place, with Scarlett Charles — daughter of London Olympic gold medal winning showjumper Peter — in third.
Charles secured his second runner-up placing of the day in the following class, the CSI2* Thames speed stakes, which was won by Britain’s Tracy Priest on Caristo VDL. The twisty course allowed riders to take a few risks with tight turns throughout, but it was Priest who negotiated the quickest route to take the victory.
Detailed times of H&C Royal Windsor 2018 coverage:
Grand prix freestyle dressage Saturday May 19 at 7pm Eastern
Bahrain King’s Cup jumping Saturday May 19 at 8pm Eastern
Rolex grand prix jumping Sunday May 20 at 7pm Eastern
Bahrain Pearl Stakes jumping on Tuesday May 22 at 8pm Eastern