Olympic riders head to Hickstead for inaugural dressage Premier League show

Dane Rawlins, a top international dressage rider pictured in action in the arena. Photo: Jeannie Knight
Olympic riders Fiona Bigwood and Emile Faurie are among the entrants for the I.C.E Horseboxes All England Dressage Festival at Hickstead (21-23 May).

Riders are heading to Hickstead for the inaugural dressage Premier League show.

Other dressage riders due to take part in this British Dressage Premier League show include international stars Louise Bell, Lara Butler, Tom Goode, Sune Hansen, Dane Rawlins, Anna Ross, Daniel Watson and Alice Oppenheimer.  

It is the first British Dressage show to take place at the main Hickstead showground, following the closure of the original Dressage at Hickstead site.

West Sussex-based rider Sarah Millis, who will also be competing at the show, comments: “Premier League shows are critical for the development of international horses, providing them with experience on the bigger stage. Hickstead is an iconic name within equestrian sport, and I am very excited to be competing at the upcoming Premier League show.”

The show will feature classes from Advanced Medium up to Grand Prix, along with Shearwater and British Dressage International Young Horse qualifiers. plus FEI youth classes from Pony to Under 25.

Three rings of action will run throughout the three days, with the LeMieux Grand Prix the feature class on the Saturday, and the action culminating in the I.C.E. Horseboxes FEI Grand Prix Special on the Sunday afternoon.

While the show is being run behind closed doors, action from the Coldstream Arena will be livestreamed on ClipMyHorse.TV and on Hickstead.TV.

Start lists and results will be available online here.
Meanwhile details of key equestrian events at Hickstead are below.

Premier League dressage for Hickstead in May 2021

Premier League Dressage comes to Hickstead in May 2021
Photo: c) Julian Portch.com

A NEW chapter for the sport of dressage at Hickstead will begin in May 2021 when the All England Jumping Course is set to host a Premier League Dressage Show .

The three-day fixture (21-23 May) will include classes from Advanced Medium to Grand Prix, with entries expected from a number of British Dressage’s leading riders.

Dressage fans had previously expressed huge disappointment when it was announced that Dressage at Hickstead – the sister site to the All England Jumping Course – was to close after 27 successful years.

Dressage at Hickstead had been the brainchild of rider Dane Rawlins and Hickstead founder Douglas Bunn, and it quickly became established as one of the leading dressage venues in the world, with the European Championships taking place there in 2003. It was also the chosen venue for an annual CDIO competition, which included the British leg of the FEI Dressage Nations Cup series.
Pictured below: Dane Rawlins riding Sidney owned by Lady Harris
Dane made the difficult decision to close Dressage at Hickstead in August, and the site has since been dismantled.

“We are immensely grateful to Dane for his many years of hard work and dedication to Dressage at Hickstead,” said Lizzie Bunn, Director of Hickstead.

“We understand that many riders were saddened to lose the venue, and while it was unsustainable to keep running the dressage side as a separate entity, we have been working hard this season to formulate plans to hold dressage competitions within the main Hickstead site.”

This has been made possible due to recent investments into the Hickstead showground, with more than £500,000 spent on making several existing grass rings into two vast all-weather arenas, with top of the range Andrews Bowen surfaces.

During the winter months, these arenas are used for cross-country and showjumping schooling courses, but at the beginning of the 2021 summer season they will be transformed to create a Premier League dressage venue with a number of arenas running concurrently as well as an international sized warm-up arena.

“We want to test the water with our first Premier League show, to gauge the initial levels of support and interest – with a view of going on to potentially bigger events,” Lizzie added. “We are currently discussing a number of other options, including hosting existing finals here, plus hopefully an international competition in 2022. But this very much depends on the entire dressage community getting behind this new venture and making it a success.”

Dressage has hit new levels of popularity in the past decade, with British riders Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and their team-mates winning multiple championship medals – most memorably claiming team and individual gold at London 2012.

When informed that dressage would be continuing at Hickstead, a venue he has had so much success at, Carl Hester said: “This is fabulous news and most welcome. We need to keep up the momentum and build our future teams, and venues with world class facilities like Hickstead are key to that. Experienced riders use Premier Leagues to bring our younger horses on, while these events also give up-and-coming combinations a chance to taste the big occasion. On behalf of the riders and owners, I’d like to thank the Bunn family for providing this opportunity, and for continuing the next chapter of Hickstead which will follow on from all that Dane and his team achieved.”

Jason Brautigam, Chief Executive of British Dressage, added: “After 27 magnificent years of Dressage at Hickstead under Dane Rawlins, it was of course incredibly disappointing when it was announced in August that he was unable to continue. 

“We subsequently had really positive and constructive discussions with the Bunn family and British Dressage is delighted that the sport will be able to continue enjoying a presence at the venue in 2021 and beyond. Hickstead remains a special and prestigious venue for our members and we look forward to next year’s Premier League fixture, which will hopefully be a stepping-stone to the return of more shows in future years, including international competition.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Dane and his team for their immense contribution to the sport – and to Edward and Lizzie Bunn for being so supportive of our efforts to retain dressage at Hickstead.”

Hickstead was the first purpose-built showjumping venue in Great Britain, and it now hosts two major international fixtures each year – the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting in June, and July’s Longines Royal International Horse Show.

This year the showground reached its 60th birthday milestone, having first opened in 1960. “My father Douglas will always be remembered most for his passion for showjumping, but he was also an innovator and advocate of all equestrian sport, and he knew that for Hickstead to be successful it had to diversify and cater to other disciplines as well,” said Lizzie. “Dressage classes have been held here at the showground since the 1970s, eventually leading to the opening of Dressage at Hickstead in 1993. I’m pleased that we can carry on Dad’s legacy – and that of Dane – by continuing to showcase the sport of dressage here in West Sussex.”

The All England Jumping Course at Hickstead in West Sussex was founded in 1960 by Douglas Bunn, who had dreamed of creating a venue that could rival those on the continent. The showground has been the venue for several World and European Showjumping Championships over the years, and now hosts two major international shows annually – the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the Longines Royal International Horse Show – as well as a national show in September known as the Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships. 

Top results for dressage riders

Anders Dahl dominated the dressage Grand Prix classes at last week’s Keysoe High Profile Show in Bedfordshire (December 5 – 8).

Riding his wife Fiona Bigwood’s Fidelio Van Het Blomenhof (Fidertanz x Jazz), pictured below, the West Sussex-based Dane was the runaway Grand Prix victor with a score of 75.40 per cent.

Anders Dahl riding Fidelio Van Het Blomenhof
Photo courtesy of British Dressage

Second place belonged to Anna Ross with her own and Beverley Brown’s 11 year old Delgado (by Uphill) on 70.73% whilst Rebecca Hughes completed the top three partnered by Lorraine Sattin’s Rubini Royale (by Rubin-Royal).

British Dressage is looking ahead to a successful 2020 for teams selected to represent dressage in this country.

As a member of the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) it has automatic links to the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) for all international affairs.

Each year the federation selects teams to represent Great Britain at championships as part of Team GBR for senior, para, young rider, junior and pony levels. It oversees all affiliated dressage in the United Kingdom with around 17,000 members competing at 2,400 shows at 188 venues.

Dressage is a truly equal sport – and in Britain members aged from six to 92, men and women, compete on equal terms. Also disabled athletes compete in this discipline alongside their able-bodied counterparts or in dedicated classes.

Rebecca Baybutt and Hey Mambo winning the Prix St Georges title.
Photo courtesy of British Dressage

Earlier this month, Rebecca Baybutt took top honours when she partnered Hey Mambo to win the Prix St Georges title at the British Dressage Small Tour Championships, which took place alongside Keysoe High Profile Show at The College Equestrian Centre in Bedfordshire.

British Dressage affiliated venues all meet minimum criteria and the competition is judged by qualified judges who undergo continuous training. The sport is also reliant on an immense team of volunteers  who give their time to help maintain high dressage standards at events across the country.

The dressage competition structure in Britain ensures opportunity for all, while the regional network offers a support network and great training opportunities.

 

 

Rising dressage star impresses ahead of BHS conference

A DATE for the diary for all riders is the National Access Conference on Saturday November 16 at British Horse Society Headquarters in Warwickshire.

This offers the chance to hear from expert speakers about project 2026, the future for access in England, Active Travel and more. There will also be opportunities to increase  knowledge during interactive breakout sessions and great opportunities to network with others interested in equestrian access.

Experts Sarah Bucks and Will Steel will be running a 2026 surgery as a follow-up to their training days. Appointments have been booked with the Access Department in advance and prior to the conference to allow time for Sarah and Will to assess them. Appointments have been given on a first come, first served basis.

Ahead of this month’s National Convention in association with Harrison Clark Rickerbys, there has been the chance meet international sensation Daniel Bachmann Andersen at Addington Equestrian for his first training convention in the UK.

Daniel Bachmaan Anderson  has become a  major dressage star      Photo courtesy of British Dressage

Daniel Bachmann Andersen became a household name to those passionate followers of the FEI dressage scene. Numerous Western European World Cup league wins followed, and this 28-year-old Danish rider is rapidly becoming a major star through his partnership with Blue Horse Stud and the string of talented stallions under his care at the esteemed Randbøl breeding and training centre.

This season, Daniel earned fourth spot in the World Cup Final on board Blue Hors Zack – the impressive Rousseau x Jazz stallion with major achievements in both the sports arena and the breeding industry – before going on to achieve further strong results at this summer’s FEI European Championships in Rotterdam.

From  being a  notable under 25s rider, he has progressed to become one of the most exciting talents of the modern dressage era.  Daniel will make his first UK training appearance at this year’s National Convention in association with Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

 

BRC NAF Interdressage League 2019/2020

British Riding Club and Interdressage are running an online competition league, covering dressage and a number of other disciplines, over the winter months.

This is open to all BRC Clubs and Riding Club Centres, now with great monthly NAF prizes too.

The League started in October and ends on April 30 2020. It has been designed to encourage more BRC Riding Club and Riding Club Centre members to ‘Give Interdressage a Go,’ by making it possible for you to ride your tests/classes in a relaxed manner from the comfort of familiar surroundings.

It is suitable for absolutely any level of rider, from the true beginner to the more advanced competitor.

All you need is an arena, or fairly flat, marked out field and a friend to film your test, then just upload to YouTube and enter via the Inter-dressage website: www.interdressage.com. It is even possible with a camera and tripod to record your own test.

An Inter-dressage league competitor recording her test.  Photo: BRC Inter-dressage

As well as Dressage at various levels, Inter-dressage offers Baroque Dressage, Style Jumping, Ridden and In Hand Showing, plus Practical Horsemanship and Handy Horse classes, and from time to time a number of fun Novelty classes, including a charity Hobby Horse Dressage class.

All the tests are professionally judged, with comprehensive feedback and cost just £12.00 per class to enter. So a huge range of great value classes to have a go at. This year, each month NAF will be awarding the highest placed BRC Interdressage individual competitor with a special prize.

At the end of the League we will be awarding impressive BRC rosettes for the winning Riding Club / Riding Club Centre and a wonderful overall individual prize from sponsor NAF, plus a rosette and sash. In addition the highest placed four winning Club/Centre riders and overall winning individual rider will be invited to lunch and a presentation at the BRC NAF Five Star National Horse Trials Championships, at Swalcliffe Park Equestrian, in August 2020.

All the monthly Interdressage classes also have rosettes up to 10th place, with prize money awarded too, and you could be competing Internationally with riders from all over the World taking part. There is a great social Interdressage Facebook page for any questions or tips and advice.

It really is an ideal way for those not confident enough to go out competing to start competing. Or a great way of trying out a more advanced level, or just to keep practising over the winter months for those more experienced competitors not wanting to venture too far. And the beauty of it all is you can compete when you want, where you want, and you don’t have to be particularly smart or have a super clean horse, absolutely ideal for the winter months.

A short video has been produced showing how to get involved – http://bitly.ws/6rtn

Katrina Hawkridge, Interdressage said:“It is always a pleasure to meet up once a year for the BRC Interdressage League presentation and being able to meet members of the winning Club.

“Feedback for the League and Interdressage, is always so positive and it is heart-warming to hear that Interdressage, after twelve years of offering online video competitions, still continues to encourage and support riders, especially those who are just starting out on their competition path.

“We are lucky to have an excellent team of BD judges and professional coaches to judge our classes and offer feedback for those who need it. Interdressage has developed into a worldwide community without losing the personal touch.”

“Malvern Hills RC has been taking part in the BRC Interdressage League for the past four years. We started off small, with just four members meeting up and having a go at the tests, taking it in turns to film each other and generally just seeing what it is all about. Since then, it’s grown into an important part of our winter schedule, with dedicated filming days each month at our local equestrian centre, ” said Caroline Bates, Malvern Hills Chairman.

Last seasons overall Individual winner Henrietta Senn competed with her horse Bobby. She said:”I started entering Interdressage as I didn’t have the confidence to go out to competitions. With brilliant feedback on the test sheets I have learned so much and now go out competing as well as still doing Interdressage online.”

Interdressage is open to anyone, anywhere and is enjoyed by riders worldwide. All standards of riders are catered for and there is a wide variety of dressage, showing and Baroque style classes to choose from every month.

This innovative format makes it possible for anyone, anywhere to compete from the convenience and familiarity of their own arena, online, via video in monthly competitions.

For more information :Tel: 07900 887527 – www.interdressage.com

 

 

 

ENDS

 

Notes to editors

Contact: British Riding Clubs on: 02476 840518 or email: ridingclubs@bhs.org.uk

British Riding Clubs (BRC)

BRC is a National Organisation of 480 affiliated Riding Clubs and Riding Club Centres, operating under the umbrella of The British Horse Society. With over 31,000 members of all ages, these clubs span the length and breadth of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, from the Orkneys to the Channel Islands. The aim of BRC is to reach all types of horse/pony and rider, from the dedicated competitor to the recreational rider. Through our network of affiliated riding clubs and riding club centres, we offer a whole range of support and encouragement for our grass roots members, including competitions, lessons, training and social activities, aimed at both junior and senior riders. Riders can also join BRC as an individual member.

The British Horse Society

As the largest equine charity in the UK, The British Horse Society is dedicated to equine welfare, protecting and increasing access to bridleways and equestrian routes, safety for horse and riders, and education. The Society’s thriving and active community of staff and volunteers is committed to improving the lives of horses everywhere.

Interdressage

Interdressage was launched in 2007 by Equine Physiotherapist and Freelance Riding Coach, Karina Hawkridge and British Dressage judge and Equestrian Artist, Glynis Mills. It is the original online dressage and showing competition website. Interdressage is open to anyone, anywhere and is enjoyed by riders worldwide. All standards of riders are catered for and there is a wide variety of dressage, showing and Baroque style classes to choose from every month. This innovative format makes it possible for anyone, anywhere to compete from the convenience and familiarity of their own arena, online, via video in monthly competitions.

Tel: 07900 887527 – www.interdressage.com

Interdressage, Broadacres Stables, The Old Coach Road, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, LS24 8HA.

Charlotte’s fourth Dressage Future Elite title

Charlotte Dujardin maintained her hold on the Dressage Future Elite Champion  title, winning it for the fourth consecutive year at HOYS.

She has won the title with four different horses proving her sheer talent for producing horses to the highest level. Her win this year was with nine-year-old chestnut mare, Mount St John Valencia owned by Emma Blundell, performing a beautiful freestyle to be awarded a score of 78.041%.

Dressage Future Elite Champion Charlotte Du Jardin: Photo Julian Portch

The young mare has only been with Charlotte for six months, but she joins Charlotte’s strong line up of horses ahead of Tokyo 2020.

Becoming a regular at Horse of the Year Show, Charlotte commented: “I’m really proud of her [Valencia]. She only did her first freestyle at the British Dressage Championships in September and to ride into an arena like this with a big crowd and the big screen, I think she found it a little daunting.

“She hesitated a little in the changes, but she stayed composed. It is such great experience for these young horses to be able to compete at a show like this; you can’t replicate this kind of atmosphere anywhere. I feel honoured to be able to bring different horses here each year and she shows a lot of potential, she just needs more exposure and experience in the arena.”

Second placed rider, Katie Bailey, is a student of the training duo Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester and was delighted to have come second to Charlotte with Eagle Nouvelle, achieving an impressive 77.625%.

Charlotte commented: “I’m really proud of her [Valencia]. She only did her first freestyle at the British Dressage Championships in September and to ride into an arena like this with a big crowd and the big screen, I think she found it a little daunting.

“She hesitated a little in the changes, but she stayed composed. It is such great experience for these young horses to be able to compete at a show like this. You can’t replicate this kind of atmosphere anywhere. I feel honoured to be able to bring different horses here each year and she shows a lot of potential, she just needs more exposure and experience in the arena.”

Having ridden at Horse of the Year Show as a young girl, Charlotte is the idol of so many young equestrians in the audience this evening, she added: “It’s a privilege to be back here again this year, it was always a childhood dream to ride down that centre line under the spotlight at HOYS and I love coming here and seeing old friends that I grew up and competed with. For anyone out there wanting to follow their dream, I would say to just keep going.”

Emile Faurie to deliver Dressage Masterclass at HOYS 2019

The Dressage Masterclass at Horse of the Year Show is a firm favourite amongst fans and has seen advice and training tips shared from the likes of four-time Olympian Richard Davison, Olympic Gold Medallist Charlotte Dujardin and her trainer and fellow team rider, Carl Hester.

For 2019, top international dressage rider, Emile Faurie, is set to inspire the HOYS audience on Dressage Thursday as he hosts the demo for the very first time. Born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1963, Emile’s early experiences with horse riding were far from what they are now. It wasn’t until the late Molly Sivewright, founder of the Talland School of Equitation, came to visit Emile at the age of 20 that he decided that this was the career for him.

Emile Faurie
Photo: British Dressage

Little did he know that he was about to embark on a journey which would shape the rest of his life. In 1982 Emile moved to Germany to work for the famous Performance Sales International (PSI), helping back and prepare youngsters for auction. In this he gained understanding on how to recognise a good horse and expand his horse knowledge to form the career he has today. In 1993, Emile won an individual bronze and team silver medal at the European Championships riding a horse called Virtu.

His work with PSI allowed him to set up his own yard in Stow on the Wold in Gloucestershire in 1996, where he continued to train and work with the young horses from Germany. Emile went on to represent Great Britain in three more European Championships, two Olympic Games and three World Equestrian Games, including 2018 in Tryon where he helped Britain secure team bronze with the 12-year-old Dono Di Maggio.

At Horse of the Year Show last year, Emile was placed fourth in the Dressage Future Elite riding Café’s Caletta scoring 74.5%; the 10 year old mare, who was bred to showjump but had a change of career at the age of six, is now competing successfully at Grand Prix level with Emile this season.

Emile Faurie riding Cafe’s Caletta at HOYS 2018
Photo: British Dressage

Emile’s picturesque yard is based in the heart of the Cotswolds. There he trains and rides with up and coming rider Tom Goode, who has established a name for himself recently with Grand Prix wins aboard a stunning chestnut stallion Dior III, who is owned by Sam Geddes.

Speaking about what the HOYS audience can expect from his Dressage Masterclass on Thursday at Horse of the Year Show, Emile commented: “It’s a great honour to have been asked to host the Dressage Masterclass; HOYS is such an iconic show and the crowd there really know their stuff, so it is a little bit nerve wracking but an honour all the same.

“HOYS has just got this special quality to it, you can’t encapsulate it in words. It has a great sense of tradition and it is so special to be a part of, I really enjoy competing there. For the masterclass I will be bringing three young horses from Germany from the Performance Sales International who I work for; they will demonstrate exactly what it is we look for in a world class dressage horses and I will talk through how we start them out in their training.

“Then in the second half, Tom [Goode] will ride Dior who is enjoying his first season at Grand Prix level this year, so they will demonstrate the higher level movements and show the levels of progression through to the finished product.”

Event Director, Emma Williams, commented: “We are so excited to announce that Emile Faurie will be hosting our Dressage Masterclass on Thursday at HOYS this year. He is one of the most successful British riders who is still competing on the circuit and has a wealth of experience which he is eager to share with the HOYS crowd this year. I am sure that visitors will be left feeling inspired with plenty of ideas of exercises to try and home with their horses.”

Horse of the Year Show takes place at The NEC Birmingham Resorts World Arena, October 2 – 6 2019. Thursday tickets are Gold Tickets, meaning that they allow you full access to the show for the full day- that is more than 16 hours of equestrian entertainment at its best with prices starting from £34.00.

Visit  https://hoys.co.uk/tickets/ or call the Box Office on 0844 581 8282.

Emile Faurie dressage masterclass at HOYS this year

Emile Faurie to deliver the Dressage Masterclass at HOYS .The Dressage Masterclass at Horse of the Year Show is a firm favourite amongst fans and has seen advice and training tips shared from the likes of four-time Olympian Richard Davison, Olympic Gold Medallist Charlotte Dujardin and her trainer and fellow team rider, Carl Hester.

For 2019, top international dressage rider, Emile Faurie, is set to inspire the HOYS audience on Dressage Thursday as he hosts the demo for the very first time.

Emile Faurie competing
Photo British Dressage

Born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1963, Emile’s early experiences with horse riding were far from what they are now. It was not until the late Molly Sivewright, founder of the Talland School of Equitation, came to visit Emile at the age of 20 that he decided that this was the career for him. Little did he know that he was about to embark on a journey which would shape the rest of his life.

In 1982 Emile moved to Germany to work for the famous Performance Sales International (PSI), helping back and prepare youngsters for auction. In this he gained understanding on how to recognise a good horse and expand his horse knowledge to form the career he has today. In 1993, Emile won an individual bronze and team silver medal at the European Championships riding a horse called Virtu.

His work with PSI allowed him to set up his own yard in Stow on the Wold in Gloucestershire in 1996, where he continued to train and work with the young horses from Germany. Emile went on to represent Great Britain in three more European Championships, two Olympic Games and three World Equestrian Games, including 2018 in Tryon where he helped Britain secure team bronze with the 12-year-old Dono Di Maggio.

At Horse of the Year Show last year, Emile was placed fourth in the Dressage Future Elite riding Café’s Caletta scoring 74.5%. The 10 year old mare mwas bred to showjump but had a change of career at the age of six. She is now competing successfully at Grand Prix level with Emile this season.

Emile’s picturesque yard is based in the heart of the Cotswolds. There he trains and rides with up and coming rider Tom Goode, who has established a name for himself recently with Grand Prix wins aboard a stunning chestnut stallion Dior III, who is owned by Sam Geddes.

Speaking about what the HOYS audience can expect from his Dressage Masterclass on Thursday at Horse of the Year Show, Emile commented: “It’s a great honour to have been asked to host the Dressage Masterclass; HOYS is such an iconic show and the crowd there really know their stuff, so it is a little bit nerve wracking but an honour all the same.

Emile Faurie
Photo: British Dressage

“HOYS has just got this special quality to it, you can’t encapsulate it in words. It has a great sense of tradition and it is so special to be a part of, I really enjoy competing there.

“For the masterclass I will be bringing three young horses from Germany from the Performance Sales International who I work for; they will demonstrate exactly what it is we look for in a world class dressage horses and I will talk through how we start them out in their training.

Then in the second half, Tom [Goode] will ride Dior who is enjoying his first season at Grand Prix level this year, so they will demonstrate the higher level movements and show the levels of progression through to the finished product.”

Event Director, Emma Williams, commented: “We are so excited to announce that Emile Faurie will be hosting our Dressage Masterclass on Thursday at HOYS this year.

“He is one of the most successful British riders who is still competing on the circuit and has a wealth of experience which he is eager to share with the HOYS crowd this year.

“I am sure that visitors will be left feeling inspired with plenty of ideas of exercises to try and home with their horses.”

Horse of the Year Show takes place this year at The NEC Birmingham Resorts World Arena,  from October 2- 6. Thursday tickets are Gold Tickets, meaning that they allow you full access to the show for the full day.  That is more than 16 hours of equestrian entertainment at its best with prices starting from £34.00.

Visit https://hoys.co.uk/tickets/ or call the Box Office on 0844 581 8282.

Fitting finale for Hartpury’s Dressage Festival

Portugal’s Luis Principe brought down the curtain on this year’s Hartpury Festival of Dressage with a victory in the Equikro FEI CDI Intermediate I Freestyle. The win was a fitting way to conclude a week of dazzling international performances, world debuts and stunning displays.

With 14 nations represented, the festival lived up to its international credentials and offered team selectors an insightful preview ahead of the European Championships later this summer.

Earlier on Sunday, crowd favourite Carl Hester stormed to an impressive victory in the Baileys Horse Feeds FEI CDI Grand Prix Special with Hawtins Delicato (75.894%). The Newent-based pairing scored 76.543% on Friday in the Hazlewoods FEI CDI Grand Prix.

Top dressage rider Carl Hester
Photo: British Dressage

Friday evening also gave crowds their first opportunity to see the hugely talented combination of Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle. Drawn last in the Hazlewoods FEI CDI Grand Prix, spectators stayed on late to witness the pair notch up a score of 82.979%, just short of their Grand Prix Special score at Bolesworth a few weeks ago.

Just over twenty-four hours later, the festival’s blue riband event – the NAF Superflex FEI CDI Grand Prix Freestyle was surely Charlotte Dujardin’s to lose. Once again paired with Mount St John Freestyle, the combination performed their long-awaited and highly-anticipated kür, a world debut of a new routine choreographed to Frozen-inspired music.

Charlotte Dujardin  in top class dressage action

The 10-year-old daughter of Fidermark danced her way to a huge winning score and personal best of 87.6%. Emma and Jill Blundell’s mare earned no less than 86% from the judges with two even awarding the pair 89%.

Speaking to Horse & Hound after her performance, Charlotte said “I’m absolutely thrilled because the degree of difficulty is immense; it is one thing after another and there is no room for error at all. On the last centre line I really didn’t know if I was going to stop — she was still raring to go.”

“I don’t know what it is about that horse, but she makes me cry every time, and that music feels so magical to ride to.”

The NAF Superflex FEI CDI Grand Prix Freestyle was filled with personal bests. Second-placed Hayley Watson-Greaves earned an impressive 77.69% with Rubins Nite while Gareth Hughes scored 75.93% aboard KK Woodstock.

Gareth Hughes was in particularly good form on Friday too, following up an earlier win on Sintano Van Hof Olympia in the Freeflex FEI CDI Prix St Georges (72.324%) with a third placing aboard Classic Briolinca in the Hazlewoods FEI CDI Grand Prix (75.696%).

Saturday’s Elite Stallions Young Horse Prix St Georges championship was another hugely competitive affair during the popular gala evening with Jayne Turney and Shirley Rixon’s Penhaligon’s Jupiter coming out on top with 72.94%. Eventer and dressage rider Dannie Morgan scored 71.04% to take second place on board Knoxxs Figaro.

Elsewhere on Super Saturday, Charlotte Dujardin notched up yet another win in the Equine Construction Advanced Medium 98 with her own and Carl Hester’s Hawtins San Floriana on a score of 75.79%.

Hartpury students and graduates enjoyed a good week with solid performances across the board. Graduate Lucy Pincus finished in sixth place during Saturday’s NAF Superflex FEI CDI Grand Prix Freestyle scoring 68.535%. Student Tesla Whitaker’s 67.63% with Barcelona in the Equine Construction Advanced Medium 98 earned her a special prize courtesy of Andrews Bowen Equestrian Surfaces.

Kate Shoemaker of the United States made a promising European debut in a competitive para dressage offering alongside compatriot Rebecca Hart. Shoemaker’s impressive 71.220% in the FEI Para Individual Championship Test Grade IV and 70.300% in the FEI Para Team Test Grade IV, were particularly eye-catching on the opening day.

Great Britain took the para team championship overall helped by impressive performances from Sophie Wells, Erin Orford and Georgia Wilson. Brazil also enjoyed individual championship successes with Sergio Oliva and Rodolpho Riskalla topping their respective grades. Ireland was once again well represented with popular rider Michael Murphy returning to Hartpury with Rohan and Skjoldsgaard Hippo-Vo.

If the young equine talent on show is anything to go by, the future of the sport looks promising. In the Hickstead 5-Year-Old National Qualifier, Abigail Lyle took the top spot with the De Niro bred gelding Jefferson P on a score of 8.1. In the international equivalent, it was the Franziskus bred gelding Time Will Tell that reigned supreme under Martina Ott. The Hickstead National 6-Year-Old Qualifier was won by Michael Eilberg and the Dante Weltino bred MSJ Dante VX on a score of 8.82 with the international equivalent won by Mia Mordecai-Smith and the Johnson-sired Innocent with a score of 7.6.

Young human talent was on display during the final day with Soraya Rogers and Evita I winning the Andrews Bowen Junior, Young Rider and Pony Team Test with a score of 69.64%.

Alice Peternell and Hillgarth Nixon proved popular winners of the British Dressage Young Pony Finals for 4-year-olds on a score of 7.48, while Bryony Goodwin and RSC The Ogopogo, and Jayne Turney and Hikins Showgirl claimed the 5 and 6-year-old finals respectively.

Sunshine beamed down on Hartpury for much of the festival and attendance figures were near 5,000 across the five days.

The Hartpury Festival of Dressage returns in 2020 just a month before the Tokyo Olympics. The event is already anticipated as the last chance to see some of the world’s best combinations in action before the Games.

Winning world debut for Mount St John Freestyle

Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle’s highly anticipated kür made a winning world debut at Hartpury’s Festival of Dressage on Saturday night

The ten-year-old daughter of Fidermark pulled out all the stops, earning a personal-best mark of 87.6%. No judge marked the combination lower than 86% with two judges even awarding 89%. Emma and Jill Blundell’s mare danced her way through clean changes and near-perfect pirouettes before theFrozen-inspired music reached its powerful climax.

Speaking after her performance, Charlotte said “I’m absolutely thrilled because the degree of difficulty is immense; it is one thing after another and there is no room for error at all. On the last centre line I really didn’t know if I was going to stop — she was still raring to go.”

Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle made winning world debut at Hartpury

“I don’t know what it is about that horse, but she makes me cry every time, and that music feels so magical to ride to.”

The NAF Superflex CDI Grand Prix was filled with personal bests. Second-placed Hayley Watson-Greaves earned an impressive 77.69% with Rubins Nite while Gareth Hughes scored 75.93% aboard KK Woodstock.

The Elite Stallions Young Horse Prix St Georges championship was another hugely competitive affair with Jayne Turney and Shirley Rixon’s Penhaligon’s Jupiter coming out on top with 72.94%. Eventer and dressage rider Dannie Morgan scored 71.04% to take second place on board Knoxxs Figaro.

Saturday’s ever-popular gala evening also included a rather humorous and highly informative demonstration by dressage rider, Anna Ross.

Earlier in the day, young horses were on display in the Shearwater 4, 5 and 6-year-old semi-finals. In the 4-year-olds, Greg Sims scored 8.86 riding Stena Hoerner’s Waverley Fellini. Lucinda Elliot earned the first 5-year-old qualification spot with Judith Davis’ Hawtins Lirica scoring 8.64 while Michael Eilberg and MSJ Dante VX took 6-year-old honours on 8.16.

Elsewhere, Portugal’s Luis Principe put a number of second-placed efforts behind him by winning the FEI CDI Intermediate I aboard James Walker’s R.S.Raphael (73.647%).

Charlotte Dujardin had started a super Saturday by winning the Equine Construction Advanced Medium 98 with her own and Carl Hester’s Hawtins San Floriana posting a score of 75.79%.