Hartpury Festival of Dressage was a showcase for the best of British talent — congratulations to the team there. With championship team hopefuls, international judges, young horse qualifiers, international paras, youth classes and a young horse prix st georges, it had it all.
There were many worthy winners, but down the line in every class there were potential superstars, showing that Britain is starting to have depth. Using the international judges for the national classes gave a new perspective to many riders, too.
Laura Tomlinson’s Duval’s Capri Sonne Jr is one of the best horses we have in the UK right now. In the grand prix special, had he recreated the work the crowd saw in the 10-minute box in the competition arena, the results could have been very different, but some tension affected his mark. If Laura’s own breeding programme is now complete and she’s back in the game full time, he’s a potential megastar.
Sadie Smith’s Premier League grand prix with her own Keystone Dynamite was also outstanding, and earned her second place with 70%.
Lewis Carrier put in a promising performance, gaining his international qualifying score in the inter II with his young rider horse Diego. Lucy Amy and Extra Time also looked to be exciting prospects in the inter II. With further consolidation we could have a competitive under-25 championship team next year. The talent is coming through.
Over at the para international, Lee Pearson’s young horse Breezer looked to have all the attributes of a medallist: a big walk, swinging trot and an active hind leg.
We recently sold a very good horse, Keystone Dawn Chorus, to Paralympic gold medallist Natasha Baker, and watching here has inspired me to keep my eyes out for more para horsepower.
Hartpury was also a showcase for British breeding, with the winner of every Shearwater age class and the grand prix special — Carl Hester’s Hawtins Delicato — bred in the UK.
In the four-year-old class, Andrew Gould’s Kamilla stood out for me as having fabulous potential. However, tension prevented her gaining a high score. Keystone Drum Roll, the full brother of a horse I always admired, Keystone Drummer Boy, has a canter to die for and gained a high placing.
If buyers needed any more convincing to buy British, the evidence is right here.
Tempting foreign riders over to compete here will always prove difficult. But this show had many international visitors for the international judges course and the stewards training for Tokyo, which gave the show a fun international feel.
My own seven-year old mare Habouche managed to keep it together in our masterclass, which was her first time on the “big stage”. It was a relief as my head rider Beth Bainbridge had spent the few days prior visiting the astronauts with her and practising airs above the ground.
The foreign judges were great sports in our masterclass, entering into the spirit of it and starting trotting races for us! Fun interactions between riders and judges can only be good for the sport: building bridges and opening the all-important lines of communication are essential to improving performance.
Ref Horse & Hound; 11 July 2019