International competition got well underway on the second day of CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show. The CDI4* Dressage kicked off with the Al Shira'aa Grand Prix which saw Britain's best duo, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester, take the top spots aboard their exciting new partners, Mount St John Freestyle and Hawtins Delicato.
It might have been only the third grand prix together for Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle but it was another winning one. The pair gained their third victory in The Al Shira’aa Grand Prix with Charlotte heading off trainer, mentor and British team mate Carl Hester with Hawtins Delicato.
Freestyle, a nine-year-old mare owned by Emma Blundell of the Yorkshire based Mount St John stud, belied her main ring inexperience impressing the judges with her ground covering paces and relaxed attitude to the atmospheric arena to produce a winning score of 78.58%.
“I am chuffed to bits with her,” said the British Olympic gold medallist. “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, the British-bred Hawtins Delicato, who was also competing in only his third Grand Prix and was not far behind the winning score – some judges even had the pair of riders and horses on near equal terms.
“You literally have no idea with these young horses how they will react but this is such a good arena and space and does give you an idea of how they will cope with the big occasion,” said Carl who is aiming Delicato for a team place for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ that will be held in the USA in September. “He is such a lovely horse with so much presence and the judges must, like me, also think highly of him.”
Richard Davison rounded off a British one-two-three, taking third place with his homebred Bubblingh (70.8%) while British riders Hayley Watson-Greaves and Rubins Nite, and Gareth Hughes with Don Carissimo were fourth and fifth respectively.
Iranian rider and Windsor first-timer Litta Soheila Sohi might have finished at the other end of the leader board but was simply thrilled to be competing at the Show.
“I will never forget this moment,” said Litta, who is aiming to compete in the Asian Games in Jakarta later in the year. “This is no ordinary Show – there is so much going on at the same time, it is overwhelming. Just to be a part of it is as good as winning and I am just thrilled to be through to the freestyle tomorrow night.”
Major British and continental dressage stars are heading to this year’s Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show.
The show is set to host a number of prestigious Dressage Viewing Trials for the World Equestrian Games, Young Dressage Horse World Championships and the European Pony Championships. The five day event takes place from June 13 to 17 in the glorious grounds of Bolesworth Castle near Tattenhall, Chester and is set to provide a feast of sport and entertainment with some fantastic dressage stars heading to the stunning venue.
Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari “Siri” Nariratana Vajiralongkorn from Thailand is set to compete in the Small Tour classes alongside dressage royalty Carl Hester and Britain’s golden girl, Charlotte Dujardin who so enjoyed last year’s show. Carl and Charlotte will be riding their current stars and potential World Equestrian Games rides, Hawtins Delicato and Mount St John Freestyle.
Princess Siri has been an active dressage rider on the Western European scene and has recently purchased an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Franchise. At the end of 2017 Siri also bought the well known schoolmaster Lord Lichtenstein, the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood. HRH Princess Siri rode for Thailand at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon and at the 2017 South East Asian Games in Malaysia where she earned team silver.
Said Bolesworth International Show President Nina Barbour: “We are delighted to be hosting the Viewing Trials and hope that dressage fans across the county and further afield will take the opportunity to come to Bolesworth and see the very best dressage action the country has to offer.”
Dressage fans can enjoy watching top horses and riders with the competition focus getting underway on Wednesday, June 13 with the CDI*** Dressage Grand Prix, the Small Tour Inter 1 Freestyle to Music as well as the Viewing Trials for the Young Dressage Horse World Championships as five, six and seven-year-old stages.
On the Thursday classes include the CDI*** Dressage Grand Prix Special and CDI*** Dressage Freestyle as well as an FEI Pony Team Test, a Viewing Trial for the Pony Europeans later in the year.
To add to the dressage excitement, Van Olst Horses and Carl Hester will be giving a demonstration on the Thursday afternoon of the show, June 14.
A close competition was promised and the riders did not disappoint but it was Patrik Kittel and Delaunay OLD (Dude) (80.560%) that rocked the auditorium with a strong, rhythmic and faultless routine to win the FEI World Cup™ Freestyle to Music, supported by Horse & Hound at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.
The Swedish combination displayed a high degree of difficulty in the programme set to a medley by the rock group Guns and Roses, that opened with a zig-zag of passage and piaffe, showed controlled double pirouettes to tempi changes and was on the beat throughout.
“The sport was really good and the standard was amazing tonight so I am just really happy to secure this win,” said Kittel, whose previous visit to Olympia was 13 years ago – when he then came last.
“I just loved how easy Dude found this test which has a high degree of difficulty – he just felt like he was cruising.”
The win takes Kittel to the top of the Western European World Cup™ League and he now looks certain for a place in the FEI World Cup™ final in Paris in April.
“I really love Paris and Dude is now qualified for the final so I hope nothing stops me going,” said Kittel.
It might have seemed a hard act to follow for British rider Emile Faurie and his new ride Delatio (80.405%) but the final combination of the night put in an impressive performance in their first competitive freestyle that made the most of the 13-year-old’s expressive paces, to come within a whisker - 0.155% - of the winner's score. He is now just the fourth British rider to score over 80% at this venue.
“I just feel so lucky that after so many years without a really top horse, I now have a whole string,” said Emile who is now based part-time in Germany.
“Delatio does not have a lot of competitive experience but he is an awesome horse, such a trier and his ability to concentrate incredible.”
Grand Prix winners Edward Gal and Glock’s Zonik (79.340%) were close behind in third place. The Dutch Olympian was third last year and has been in the top three here on no less than four occasions since his last win at Olympia in 2009.
“We made a few mistakes tonight and Zonik was a little tense as he is not used to such a crowd, and you don’t get this atmosphere anywhere else but the crowd really appreciate the riders and it was good experience for Zonik,” said Gal.
British riders Lara Butler (Rubin Al Asad), Hayley Watson-Greaves (Rubins Nite) and Richard Davison (Bubblingh) all put in strong performances to finish in 5th, 6th and 7th place respectively and within 1.33% of each other.
The next qualifying round for the FEI World Cup™ Dressage will be in Amsterdam on the 26th January.
The World's best Dressage riders were out in force on the opening night of Olympia, The London International Horse Show, where Edward Gal (NED) was crowned winner of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound.
In addition to the top-class competition, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester took centre stage to give a dressage masterclass showcasing the training routine of a champion.
Charlotte Dujardin took to the Olympia Grand Hall for the first time since the retirement of her triple Olympic gold medal winning partner, Valegro, this time last year. Riding Mount St John Freestyle, Charlotte was put through her paces by mentor and Olympic team mate, Carl Hester, to display the key attributes and training methods for producing a champion.
Mount St John Freestyle, an eight-year-old Hanoverian mare, nick-named "Mrs Valegro" by Carl during the demonstration, is looking to step up to Grand Prix level next year, with the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games as the target. The composed performance showcased the exceptional talents of both horse and rider, who have already attained several titles together, including the recent Future Elite Championship and the Summer British Dressage National Championship.
Popular Dutch dressage rider Edward Gal and the young stallion Glock’s Zonik (76.68%) claimed the FEI World CupTM Dressage Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.
The win made a cold, slow journey from The Netherlands, that was beset by delays caused by the wintery weather, worthwhile. It was also an impressive display of horsemanship from Gal and talent from the expressive and elegant nine-year-old Glock’s Zonik, who was competing in just his third ever Grand Prix, and now has two wins and a second place on his CV. Highlights of the test include ground covering half-passes and particularly impressive elastic piaffe and passage.
“The journey here was really no fun at all,” said Gal, a winner of the FEI World CupTM qualifier at Olympia in 2009 with the record breaking Totilas, before going on to win the FEI World CupTM Final later that season. “We left home at 6am on Sunday and finally arrived in London at 6pm on Monday evening, but this win makes up for all that. I was really happy with Zonik especially as it was his first time in such a big atmospheric arena – this is really promising for the future.”
Swedish Olympian Patrik Kittel, who also endured a marathon journey to London, came a close second with the Oldenburg gelding Delaunay (75.10%). The pair performed a well presented and confident error free test. “I am very happy to be here for the second time,” said Kittel. “London is such a great show.”
Olympia debutant Madeleine Witte-Vrees from The Netherlands was third with the bright chestnut Cennin (73.72%), with whom she made her senior championship team debut in this year’s Europeans, while Emile Faurie and Delatio (72.86%) were the highest placed British combination. It was an impressive competitive Grand Prix debut for the pair, who have only been together for two months.
“Tonight’s Grand Prix was quite a challenge for the judges,” said Stephen Clarke President of the Ground Jury. “They were many good combinations, some exciting expressive horses and scores that were close together.”
Fifteen combinations will go forward to tomorrow night’s FEI World CupTM Dressage Freestyle to Music supported by Horse & Hound, one of the highlights of the British Dressage calendar.