CSI five-star showjumping kicked off on day three of Royal Windsor Horse Show, with five of the world’s top 10 riders taking to the prestigious Castle Arena. The evening’s highlight performance, the CDI four-star Al Shira’aa grand prix freestyle to music, once again saw Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester shine.
Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin once again stamped her authority on the day’s dressage class at Royal Windsor Horse Show in the UK today (Friday, May 11). She won the grand prix freestyle class with 81.21% riding her newest horse to the level, Emma Blundell’s aptly named Mount St John Freestyle.
The nine-year-old mare produced a confident programme that made the most of her off-the-floor paces, impressive passage and extensions.
“That was only her second freestyle and it’s not something we practice at home, so I am really happy. Everything she does, she does so well and I can’t ask for more, especially at this stage,” said Charlotte, who rode to the How to Train Your Dragon music originally made for her double Olympic champion Valegro. “It was Valegro’s very first music and brings back many memories and always gives me goosebumps — and I just love riding to it.”
This was the second time the pair had tackled an international freestyle class, and the second time they were awarded over 81% for their performance. Their win earned them €5445 in prize-money.
Charlotte’s boss and mentor Carl Hester replicated his position in the grand prix, finishing second again behind Charlotte in the freestyle, this time with 76.825%. He was riding the 11-year-old Diamond Hit gelding, Hawtins Delicato, in his first grand prix freestyle. He also used a former successful programme, originally designed for his Olympic team gold medal horse, Uthopia. Like Freestyle, Delicato looked at ease performing to music.
“He felt much more rideable tonight,” said Carl, who bought the British-bred gelding as a four-year-old from breeder Judith Davies, and has since bought a sibling. “He’s a very exciting horse and at this stage just needs nursing along.”
Former British team rider Gareth Hughes finished one better tonight to make the top three, just pipping Richard Davison and Bubblingh. Riding Don Carissimo, Gareth said he was “over the moon” with the outcome. “That is only his second outing this year and was a whole lot better than the first — he is a real trier,” he said.
Once again the five British riders took the first five places, with British-based Dane Ulrik Moelgaard and Michigan completing the top six.
Earlier in the day, Germany’s Daniel Deusser won the feature international jumping class, the 1.50m CSI5* Bahrain Pearl stakes, picking up the €13,125 winner’s purse on his debut at the iconic show.
With 16 horses through from the first round, it was an exhilarating jump-off, with an open course encouraging forward riding and leaving no margin for error. Daniel’s victory came aboard another mare — Equita Van T Zorgvliet. The 14-year-old Cassini I mare, who was fifth to go in the jump-off, held her nearest rival at bay by 0.15 of a second.
Daniel’s stiffest competition came from Canada’s Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5, with the Italian rider Emanuele Gaudino (Chalou) rounding out the podium. Robert Smith was best of the British contingent riding Ilton. They finished fourth.
Daniel said: “I’m very happy with my horse. I know she has a big stride and is naturally fast. I saw a bit of Eric’s round, so I knew I had to try hard to beat his time, but everything went well. It’s my first time here at Windsor and I was very impressed when I walked onto the showground, it’s beautiful, there’s a lot of space to ride and it’s great to see such a big crowd on a Friday afternoon.”
Laura Kraut recorded the highest US result. She lowered two rails in the jump-off to finish sixteenth on Hello Guv’nor.
Earlier in the day, it was a Belgian one-two in the opening five-star competition of the Show, the Manama Speed Stakes, a 1.45m two phase competition. As first to go, Ireland’s Cian O’Connor set the standard with a double clear aboard Veneno, and compatriot Bertram Allen was the first to lay down the gauntlet, but it was the two Belgian riders who proved untouchable.
Francois Mathy Jr, a recent winner at CSI Hagen, jumped an impressive round, keeping his foot to the floor throughout and making an exceptionally tight turn to the Big Ben fence at 12, to post a time of 28.93 seconds and take the lead. Crowd favourite, Britain’s John Whitaker, came close to challenging with a time of 30.25, but it was not until the penultimate to go, Wilm Vermeir, riding the 12-year-old chestnut mare Gentiane De La Pomme, that the lead was jeopardised. Taking a stride out to the planks at 11 and galloping to the last, Vermeir managed to knock 0.27 seconds off Mathy Jr’s time to take 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