It was a British one-two-three in the inaugural Bolesworth international dressage class, with Carl Hester and Barolo taking top honours with 74.24%.

In previous years, the dressage has been invitational only, but this year the spectacular Cheshire show is hosting three-star CDI dressage. The idyllic, iconic competition arena sits at the base of Bolesworth Castle and has a dyed-blue moat surrounding it.

Barolo, an 11-year-old Breitling son, has mostly been competed by Charlotte Dujardin to date, but Carl has taken over the reins this season, winning first at Windsor CDI and now at Bolesworth on the show’s opening day.

“It doesn’t always feel as good as it looks,” said Carl, who had to contend with a spooky horse whenever he was facing the A end of the arena.

“He’s young; he was great at Windsor, but he’s an up-and-coming grand prix horse,” said Carl. “He did a lot of things really nicely today. The piaffes have improved a lot, but he was a bit spooky and looking at the flags or something down there, which I could have done without, but I’m happy with him. He’s a very laid-back character.”

Gareth Hughes snapped at Carl’s heels on another horse new to grand prix, scoring 72.92% on Don Carissimo (by Don Crusador x World Cup III). The 12-year-old gelding is in his first year of grand prix and produced a fault-free performance.

Another Brit to break the 70% barrier slotted into third. Gillian Davison made one mistake in the canter zig-zag — riding seven strides and then five sideways instead of six and six — but she and Alfranco (by Negro) still posted 70.38%.

“I’m bad at counting because I’m getting old!” she said.

For a full list of Bolesworth CDI grand prix results, click here.

A very different outlook

A glorious spring day greeted the riders and spectators; a very different picture to last year, where torrential rain obliterated the show’s first day and caused problems all round.

“This show is a huge thing for British dressage,” added Carl. “Anyone here last year will remember what Nina [Barbour, show organiser] and her team had to cope with will appreciate this.

“This is how it should be; the castle in the sun, and everyone enjoying themselves. Us riders love being here.”

The dressage action at Bolesworth continues tomorrow with the grand prix special which begins at 3.30pm and the freestyle, which starts at 5pm. On Friday there are also five- six- and seven-year-old dressage horse classes, as well as an invitational prix st georges.