Charlotte Dujardin got her 2018 NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships campaign off to a perfect start when winning both classes she was competing in today (12 April).

The first came on the supremely talented six-year-old mare, Hawtins San Floriana in the Equi-Trek elementary gold class. The pair finished almost 4% ahead of their nearest rivals, finishing on 78.54%, in front of Jayden Brown and Atterupgaards O2.

“I’m so pleased with her as she’s still quite new in the sense we haven’t performed many tests together — she’s come on so much in such a short space of time,” said Charlotte. “She’s a really hot mare, but in a nice way — that’s exactly what I need in a grand prix horse as I need her to still be firing on the third day of competition. She’s a joy to ride and the first horse I have ever joint-owned with Carl [Hester]. He’s slowing down and likes watching me ride — it’s a real honour.”

Charlotte first set eyes on San Amour x Florestan mare at the premier league show at Hartpury in 2016.

“I fell in love with her straight away and went and told Carl that I’d found a grand prix horse in the making,” explained Charlotte. “I asked her owner at the time, Judith, if I could buy her, but she wasn’t interested in selling. I pestered her for about a year and then she finally let me have her.”

Charlotte’s second victory today came in the form of another mare, River Rise Escarla, in the Magic prix st georges gold championship. They again beat their nearest rivals, Nikki Barker and Durable, by almost 4% to finish on 75.57%.

This was only the mare’s third prix st georges test, having been produced with some success by Sadie Smith before Charlotte took over the ride.

“I’ve had her nearly two years, but it took a year to get to know her. That’s only the third time I’ve ever competed her so we’re still learning a bit more about each other,” said Charlotte. “I was really pleased with her — she just got a bit hot in the walk. It was like being on tenterhooks and I was thinking ‘don’t breathe!’ But apart from that I’m really happy.”

The Charles Owen advanced medium silver championship went to the only pair that managed to break the 70% barrier, Jodie Pharaon and Bear.

“We’re new to this level and although his canter work and flying changes felt good, I just wanted to give him a good ride,” said Jodie, who gave birth to little girl Bailey just nine months ago. “I’ve had Bear since he was three and he’s a very amenable horse that gives an amazing feeling and tries hard. He’s one in a million and I’m living the dream.”

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Sadie Smith and the Carl Hester, Anne Barrott and Rowena Luard-owned Nutbush smashed their opposition in the Baileys Horse Feeds novice freestyle gold championship. They finished over 5% clear of their nearest rivals, finishing on an impressive 78.89%.

“I’m so pleased — ‘Gus’ has never been to a show like this before, but he never says no,” said Sadie of the six-year-old by Negro. “He’s come on so much, even since the regional qualifiers. We’ve taken our time with him as he’s quite big but he finds everything so easy and shows plenty of talent at home. Ultimately he will be for Carl to ride and he loves him to bits, but in the meantime, this is an amazing opportunity for me.”

For a full report from the British Dressage Winter Championships and Area Festival final – as well as news, views and expert comment – don’t miss Thursday’s (19 April) issue of Horse & Hound