It was wonderful to see Mount St John Freestyle return to the ring at Bolesworth in such magnificent style with Charlotte Dujardin. The patience and care Charlotte, Carl Hester, Emma Blundell and the horse’s other connections have shown in not rushing to bring the mare back after her virus just before Christmas has paid dividends, and should be an inspiration.
Charlotte must have been desperate to get Freestyle back in the ring, but having the discipline to hold off until she was 100% fit and ready will go a long way towards preserving this horse’s incredible talent and zest for competing.
Bolesworth is one of my favourite events of the year, but what a shame the weather this year caused so many problems for Nina Barbour and her team — it’s a brilliant show, and it was sad for the riders, organisers and spectators that conditions forced it to close its doors to the crowds.
The press were treated wonderfully, however, ensuring spirits stayed high even when it became apparent that the wood-fired pizza stand next to the press office was going to remain tantalisingly closed.
For those of us lucky enough to witness the sport live, competition was top notch — the fight for a place on the European Championships team is really starting to hot up now, and I was particularly impressed by Gareth Hughes and Richard Davison in the big tour at Bolesworth.
Carl Hester’s ride Hawtins Delicato also achieved a well-deserved personal best, but if last weekend’s Nations Cup show at Geesteren in the Netherlands was anything to go by, 23-year-old Lottie Fry could be giving some of the old guard a serious challenge for a team spot.
From gin to grand prix
For a journalist, this time of year is a whirlwind of travelling round the major shows, interviewing riders, judges and trainers, planning print and digital coverage, and helping ensure the magazine goes out on time every week without fail.
It’ll be a non-stop blaze of activity leading up to the European Championships in Rotterdam in August, and then on to the British Dressage nationals in September, before we finally take a breather, and possibly a day off!
Amid the madness, I was pleased to have a chance to sit down at Bolesworth and have an unplanned but very enjoyable lunch with Charlotte. Much of our interaction with the top riders consists of frantic interviews straight after their rides, or back-and-forth WhatsApping about a quote or piece of news, so it was lovely to have a rare chance to chat informally, about everything from our similar tastes in gin to why she loves riding the grand prix special.
I think it’s important we have the chance to get to know those we write about on a slightly more personal level, and for riders to see journalists as people too, not always out to create a story, and certainly not trying to trick anybody into saying something they shouldn’t.
At the end of the day, all of us involved in dressage are just working hard to promote and grow the sport we love.
Ref Horse & Hound; 4 July 2019