First Grand Prix Success for Charlotte’s Pumpkin at Addington
It has been a year now since Chris Parker took over at the Addington Equestrian Centre and we went back on his first anniversary to see if anything has changed. The first show the new team put on at Addington was The British Dressage High Performance Show in 2019. It is always the first major domestic competition held in the UK after the Christmas break. In 2020, Addington again played host to this well-attended show, particularly at the higher levels of dressage for Grand Prix, Inter 1 and Prix St Georges. Riders come out for the first time with horses they have been competing, but now, at a higher level to see how they get on. This year the classes were even bigger than usual with all three days starting before daylight and ending well after dark. Each day lasted for over 14 hours, and with over 370 horses competing, there were four arenas in constant use. This must have been most satisfying to the new team at Addington.
Addington, it has to be said has not really seen any visual changes. Some of the arenas have been re-surfaced and the indoor arenas have seen a lick of paint which has brightened the place up somewhat. The biggest noticeable change is the re-roofing of the smaller indoor arena which has had clear roofing incorporated which has made a huge difference. Plenty of organisational changes have been made, which in the main have proved beneficial. Chris Parker and his team can be very satisfied after their first year after running this UK major equine sporting venue.
The main headline to the show itself was the debut outing at Grand Prix level for Charlotte Dujardin’s new Grand Prix performer Gio. This was a horse that Charlotte brought from the USA. She saw it at a clinic she was giving in California and fell in love with it. Small, but well put together with great paces, when she rode the gelding, she loved it even more and persuaded a reluctant owner to sell it to her, provided that she was buying it to ride herself rather than simply buying to sell on. All agreed, the five year old KWPN Dutch bred horse arrived on Halloween in 2015, hence its stable name “Pumpkin”. Since then, Gio has been quietly competed throughout the levels and winning the classes it has been in. He is by the Dutch stallion Apache.
Now was the first test for Gio ‘Pumpkin’– can he live in Grand Prix? Just to demonstrate how Charlotte is such ‘box office’ for venues, the whole of Addington seemed completely soulless with everyone going about their business in front of empty stands for the whole day. But in come Charlotte and suddenly the place came alive and most of the seats were filled. The test completed, and just as suddenly as the stands filled, they emptied again. Quite bazaar!
This was a huge class by Grand Prix standards with 40 entries and 34 presenting themselves in front of the three judges Mary Robins from NZ and the other two from GB Penelope Lang and Richard Baldwin.
Vicky Thompson-Winfield riding Artist set the ball rolling in this marathon class and rode a competent test as you would expect and ended the class in fifth place with a smidge under 70%.
Three horses later, Emile Faurie riding Quentano II came into the arena leaving with the first 70 plus percent and finishing the day in fourth place. Another five horses later came Sadie Smith riding yet another son or daughter of Dimaggio; Keystone Dynamite. The pair recorded the second 70 percent plus with 70.900% and finished in third.
With the first ten gone, most of the top places were done and dusted. Towards the end of the second ten, Gio entered the arena with Charlotte Dujardin, owning every pace they took. Charlotte must have been delighted with the 79.567% they received, a score not going to be beaten in any event. As the pair left the arena, so did the audience who disappeared as mysteriously as they arrived. The second spot in the class was claimed by Sonnar Murrey-Brown riding the well-known Erlentanz, yes the same Erlentanz ridden by Charlotte Dujardin to Grand Prix second in the Aachen equine event last July. Sonnar rode a competent test and was justly awarded 73.733%.
As mentioned earlier in this article, there were other top classes at this event and it would be remiss to ignore them. There was a Prix St Georges class each day, all three with thirty plus riders. Charlotte Dujardin took the Saturday class riding Mount St John Valencia and also took the Intermediate 1 class on the same day on the same horse, both with a score of over 77%. Other winners in the Prix St Georges were Dannie Morgan riding Knox’s Figaro and Jayne Turney riding Penhaligon’s Jupiter, both riders getting over 72%.
Dannie was also second to Charlotte in the Inter 1. In the other Inter 1, Nathalie Kayal riding DHI Cleverboy won with 70% plus and Samantha Thurman-Baker riding Habil XX was second. She was also second to Dannie Morgan in one of the PSGs. In the Intermediate II, 28 started and Katrina Cantrell won the class riding Woodlander Donna Summer with Vicky Thompson-Winfield coming second, this time riding Esquire.
There were several other classes for Ponys, Juniors and Young Riders together with an Advanced Medium making three very full days – all starting at 7.30am and not finishing until after 9pm. This was a strong event and there were some really lovely horses on display. The Keystone Dimaggio offspring were in abundance and they all looked good and had good strong paces. Unlike Dimaggio himself though, they all seemed to have good size about them, something that Dimaggio himself did not. He was a fantastic moving horse but was small. Without any doubt, the standard of horse competing has improved massively over the past few years, although it has to be said that some of the riding has not always kept up. It’s all very well having a good looking strong horse with plenty of cadence and great paces, but if they are that strong, riders need to adapt themselves in order to be able to control all that power and pizazz; sadly we saw many riders without the necessary to have complete control of their horses.
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