Horse & Hound's coverage of Ashford Farm CSI4* Bolesworth International (18-21 June) is brought to you in association with Equestrian.com

The impressive setting of the main International Arena at Ashford Farm Bolesworth International CSI4* show in Cheshire played host to a high quality invitational equestrian.com inter I freestyle dressage class last night (Thursday 18 June).

It was the first time the discipline has featured on the four-star fixture’s calendar.

Michael Eilberg and Woodlander Farouche were victorious with over 77%.

That show organisers pulled in top riders including Laura Tomlinson and Becky Moody – who were second and third – was testament to the venue’s appeal.

Olympic rider Richard Davison, who was instrumental in this trial run of dressage, explained that not only is the setting attractive, but the environment is an invaluable learning tool for developing horses, too.

“It’s clear that atmosphere has a big impact on tests — even for experienced horses — so if we want these sensitive animals to deliver good grand prix tests in challenging, modern situations, then this sort of exposure is essential,” he told H&H.

“We’re so lucky to have the opportunity to expose horses in this way at such a beautiful venue. It’s positive not only for the dressage public, but also for the production of future top international grand prix horses.”

Fellow Olympian Laura Tomlinson, who was second on her new stallion Duvals Capri Sonne Jr with 74%, was also impressed.

“It was a long way for us to drive [from Gloucestershire] but the venue’s really going about testing the appetite for the inclusion of dressage in the right way,” she said.

“It was very clever to have to have a small, quality field at this level rather than run a big tour class and have people bring their second- or third-string grand prix horses.

“The venue is awesome; better than most outdoor shows on the continent,” she added. “Where else can you ride in such a cool arena? I think it must be a photographer’s dream. The dressage world should really try to make use of this venue.”

The brainchild behind the entire show, Nina Barbour, added: “I was thrilled with the turnout for last night’s class. This is a stepping stone as we have plans for future expansion of dressage at Bolesworth.”

For full report don’t miss next week’s issue of H&H — out Thursday 25 June.

Video by www.equine-productions.com