After a nail biting finish when both European team silver medallists Carl Hester and Maria Eilberg made crucial mistakes in their freestyles, Carl managed to squeak ahead on Donald McTaggart’s Liebling ll, beating Maria on Two Sox by less than 1%.

Having headed the freestyle championship in addition to Saturday’s grand prix, Carl added the overall title to his list of accolades. Carl Hester scored 74.65% to Maria’s 73.9%, while Nicola Jourdain finished third on St Swithens.

Judge at C Stephen Clarke said: “They were very close, but both lost marks for different reasons — Liebling was just that bit more elastic even though he made mistakes. Maria had very good changes and did some good technical work, but she also had some problems.”

Alex Hardwick and Rotspon’s Rockin, a seven-year-old German-bred gelding won the medium restricted championship. Trained by her mother Sally, Alex credits Rotspon’s Rockin for giving her more confidence with her riding.

“He used to have me on the floor all the time,” she laughed. “But these days he doesn’t put a foot wrong.”

The novice equivalent went to Anita Gibson and her six-year-old Dutch-bred gelding Wiseguy.
“I used to show jump, but bought Wiseguy with dressage in mind as the sport fitted in better with having my family,” said Anita. “He’s been so trainable, he has a very good brain.
The pair train with Damian Hallam.

In the young horse classes Vicki Thompson and Toni and John Terry’s Beltoni, a five-year-old stallion by Belissimo and bred by Sarah and Tony Pidgley, won his class plus the supreme championship.

Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester and Ann Cory’s Dimaggio gelding Don Archie was reserve five-year-old champion.

Tim Sillevis managed the impressive feat of coming first and second in the four-year-old championship winning on Julie Down’s Romanno Ruinart — who was also reserve supreme — and finishing second on Sandy Seniors GF Deville.

Don’t miss H&H’s full report on all the action at the Dressage Delux National Dressage Championships in this Thursday’s magazine