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.”