87.6 for Aptly Named Freestyle at Hartpury Dressage

Of the five ‘dressage only’ FEI competitions in the UK in the year, The Hartpury Dressage Festival is certainly one of the most important. It is the only FEI event run in the UK with FEI classes both for abled and disabled riders. As a result there are over 40 classes over the five days with representatives from 14 countries participating. In many respects, the Hartpury Dressage Festival is the most important for many as it is timed usually to be the last possible event for those chosen to represent the UK in further championships, either for the Olympics in Olympic year, or the World Equestrian Games when they take place and the bi-annual European Championships. The event is run alongside the last of the British Dressage National Premier leagues for the year.

Apart from the Para Dressage FEI 3 star CPEDI3*, which has been highlighted in a previous article, there is also the CDI3*. There are two tours for this event, the ‘small tour’ which is for riders competing at Prix St Georges and Intermediate 1 level with a music freestyle. The second is the ‘big tour’ which is for Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and a music freestyle.

The event kicked off with the small tour P.S.G. there were 41 combinations from 9 different countries starting. One of the very early runners from Portugal, Luis Principe riding RS Raphael set a high standard scoring 72.235% with two of the five judges scoring him to win. In the last section,

Gareth Hughes. Winner of PSG

Gareth Hughes from Great Britain came in riding his and Judy Firmston-William’s Sintano Van Hof Olympia. Riding a smooth test in searing heat, Gareth managed to win the class, just, with 72.324%. In third place, and like Gareth Hughes, representing Great Britain was Jessica Dunn riding Jennifer Whitaker’s Alicante Valley. The class was sponsored by Freeflex.

The big tour saw the Grand Prix with 26 combinations coming forward. Favourite was Charlotte Dujardin riding Mount St John Freestyle after their recent stunning success at Bolesworth last month, scoring 88% in the GP special. The class was sponsored by accountancy firm Hazlewoods. Five countries had representatives in the big tour, from as far afield as China and Hong Kong. Although there were very proficient rides, the better riders were nearer the end of the class. Earlier winner Gareth Hughes, riding his and Rebecca Hughes’ Classic Briolinca rode another smooth test and briefly took the lead with 75.696%.

Carl Hester. Second in Grand Prix and Winner of Grand Prix Special

Two horses later came Hawtins Delecato ridden by Carl Hester. Another text book test from the dressage maestro saw him take the lead from Gareth with 76.543%. But as one everyone agreed was the favourite, two horses later was Mount St John Freestyle, the last to go, ridden by Charlotte Dujardin. The pair did not disappoint. They scored a convincing 81.891%. As usual, with Charlotte, the horse was beautifully ridden, but rarely has a horse with such natural expressive and extravagant moves been seen.

On day two, the small tour comprised of the Inter 1. Again this was a hotly fought contest with 39 starters. This class was sponsored by Classic Dressage. Like the Grand Prix yesterday, the main protagonists were late in the draw. The PGS third, Jessica Dunn took the lead mid way through the class with 71.735%. Gareth Hughes, winner of yesterday’s PSG, again rode a smooth test and as expected after his narrow win yesterday took the lead. There was still one more danger ahead however. Luis Principe from Portugal was in no mood to be so narrowly defeated again and rode the best test of the day to win the class with 73.647% against Gareth’s 72.206%.

Charlotte Dujardin.

The second leg of the big tour was the Grand Prix Freestyle to music, always a highlight of this festival, and the main event of the special Gala evening put on by the venue and for several years including this, sponsored by NAF Superflex. I was most disappointed however that there were only eight entries. Did the riders think that as one of the entries was Mount St John Freestyle, they would by pass this class and go for the Grand Prix Special instead? However, despite the disappointing number of runners, the class was well received by a nearly full house audience. Hong Kong’s Caroline Chew riding Tribiani kicked things off and received a smidge under 70% for her efforts. Another three came forward to give a pleasing performance before what felt like the main course of the evening – Charlotte Dujardine on Mount St John Freestyle.

Charlotte wins GP Freestyle with 87.600

Riding Mount St John Freestyle to a world debut performance of her music, she started with medium and extended trots before moving into passage. Then to walk before a change of music tempo and into canter. The whole musical score was so well suited to this quite delicate horse and Charlotte performed perfect ones and twos all around the arena with double pirouettes interspersed throughout. Finally, a long piaffe and passage to the end of the arena before exploding into a huge extended trot to lead to the salute just in front of the judge at C. She rode a difficult test in terms of choreography beautifully and gained 87.600%. The three riders following her were no match for her performance, good riders though they are.

Hayley Watson-Greaves.

The nearest one was virtually10% behind the winner and was Hayley Watson-Greaves riding Rubins Night, who with a score of 77.925% which would normally be vying for the winner’s podium, but with Charlotte on fire it seemed, there was no chance!! Two of the five judges, Nick Burton at E and Steven Clarke at C gave Mount St John Freestyle slightly under 90% a piece with foreign judges, Kurt Christensen, Lars Andersen and Eddy de Wolf Van Westerrode not being quite so generous. To see this performance, feel free to see it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY3k_yg9HcM  courtesy of Harveywetdog.

Joao Miguel Torrao from Portugal in his first International in UK

The final day saw the Grand Prix Special sponsored by Baileys Horse Feeds. There were 15 starting, and without Charlotte Dujardin, the winner was expected to be either Carl Hester riding Hawtins Delicato or Gareth Hughes riding Classic Briolinca. In the event Carl won with 75.894% with Gareth second with 73.553% . In third place was Joao Miguel Torrao riding his first international in the UK. He is from Portugal and is spending a few months in the UK staying with Carl Hester. Joao was riding Equador and left the arena with a score of 73.723% for his efforts.

The final class of this dressage international feast was the Inter 1 Freestyle to music. Sponsored by Equikro, again there were 15 starters. Another Portuguese rider who has had a terrific show won the class, Luis Principe riding James Walker’s RS. Raphael with 77.250%, several percentage points ahead of his nearest rival, Jessica Dunn ridding Alicante Valley. (73.150% ) In third was Jacqueline Wing Ying Sui riding for Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Jockey Club Furst On Tour with 72.050%

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