Dressage Goes Virtual at Hickstead and Rotterdam

CHIO Rotterdam Dressage Arena.

For those suffering from a ‘lack of dressage’ a virtual Grand Prix was held over the weekend in a new and innovative initiative. Several Group 1 races were run, including Two Oaks’, one in Ireland and the other in The USA and we say farewell to Tim Price – a keen supporter and organiser of major showjumping events in the UK.


A virtual Grand Prix took place over the weekend at both Hickstead Dressage and CHIO Rotterdam. Forty combinations took part in the virtual Grand Prix when each rider did the test which was pre-recorded, twenty at each venue. Each horse was judged by anyone who had downloaded an app, an idea first used at Olympia last year, whereby the viewer could mark each individual test on line. It was originally thought up as a new way to allow people to become more involved in dressage as a sport. The forty competitors, already having completed their tests were then put into a starting order which was aired virtually over the weekend – twenty on Saturday and the rest on Sunday. Stephen Clarke and Mariette Sanders Van Gransenwinkel, both five star judges commented on each movement as each test progressed. The result was then entirely up to the viewers by averaging out the scores for each rider. Charlotte Dujardin, riding Mount St John Freestyle won with a score of 78.885% with her nearest rival Ashley Van Megan-Brons from the Netherlands riding San Diego coming second on 70.329% The third was also from The Netherlands, Patrick Van de Meer riding Chinook. The event was judged a huge success, allowing the dressage world to see their heroes compete once again, even virtually.

British Dressage and Hartpury Equine have re-scheduled the British Dressage Winter Championships to August. The championships were to have been held in April. Since all the qualifiers had already taken place before Covid, this seems an excellent decision although sadly the event will have to be conducted behind closed doors.


In Ireland, at the Curragh, the Group 1 classic, Irish Oaks was run with eight runners. The race was won by Even So ridden by Colin Keane and trained by Ger Lyons. Even So is by Camelot and this win was a big step up for the filly having only previously won a listed contest in Naas. The second home was Cayenne Pepper trained by Jessica Harrington who was sent off favourite with third home, Passion for Aiden O’Brien, the best of his four runners.

William Mott – winning trainer of Paris Lights

In Saratoga, the Coaching Club American Oaks, and two other Group 1s was also run with victory going to Paris Lights for trainer William Mott. There were five runners. The second Group 1, The United Nations Stakes, run on turf, had none going to post and Aquaphobia returned the winner for trainer Michael J Maker. In the TGV Haskell Stakes, the third and most valuable Group 1 held at the venue, Bob Baffert trained Authentic to win by a nose from Ny Traffic. In France, at Chantilly, the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan over 1 mile 1 furlong was run with eight runners, five of which were set over from the UK. The 2 length winner was a son of Kingman, Persian King trained by Andre Fabre. The second home was the first of the British contingent, Stormy Antarctic trained by Ed Walker.

It appears that New Zealand feel that they have the Covid pandemic more under control than anyone else. All prize money has been cut this year, and by some margin in some countries, particularly the UK, but New Zealand have said that from January 2021, all their prize money will return to pre-pandemic levels.

In southern California, Del Mar racecourse has been forced to cancel all its racing after only being open for a couple of meetings. This is due to 15 jockeys testing positive for Covid-19.

Bob Baffert has been given a 15 day ban following two of his horses were tested positive for traces of anaesthetic lidocaine, a drug to aid recovery from colic. He disputes the claims and has gone to appeal. The incident happened in May in Arkansas.

Showjumping – Tim Price

Tim Price – great supporter of British Showjumping (Image courtesy 1st Class Images)

We were sorry to hear that Tim Price, former master of Addington Manor died last week. He was also very closely involved with The Horse of the Year Show. He introduced several initiatives over the years, including The Young Horse Championships at Addington every August. Speaking with my Goldeneye hat on, I got to know Tim very well over the years and he was a great advocate of live streaming and other video promotion work, a lot of which Goldeneye did. Like everyone, we had our ups and downs with Tim, as he could be awkward and very cantankerous. However, in the main, we got on well and ‘understood’ one another and he was really very supportive of what we were trying to do with video filming work within the industry. I thank him for that and send my condolences to his wife Liz and the rest of his family.

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