7 star dressage horses you probably hadn’t heard of 12 months ago

2019 has seen several equine stars emerging – here are seven big names that you may not even have heard of before the start of this year.

1. Sintano Van Hof Olympia

GARETH HUGHES - SINTANO VAN HET OLYMPIA

This nine-year-old son of Sandro Hit has been with Gareth Hughes for some years, but it has been in 2019 that he has really made people sit up and take notice. The talented, bouncy bay, whom Gareth describes as an “out-and-out athlete”, caught the eye when beating Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Valencia to the national inter I title in September, and he has been unbeaten at small tour at his two international shows since.

2. Erlentanz

Aachen freestyle Charlotte Dujardin

Having made his grand prix debut in 2018 with owner Sonnar Murray-Brown, this 12-year-old Latimer gelding became the principle top level ride of Charlotte Dujardin during the first half of 2019, as she took over the reins while Sonnar recovered from a broken leg. Charlotte thinks very highly of this little gelding, and it’s no wonder — having won at Bolesworth and Windsor, they then turned in super results at CHIO Aachen in July, finishing third in the grand prix special with over 80%. Sonnar will be back in the saddle next year, and it will be exciting to see how far Erly can go when reunited with his owner.

3. Midnight II

There’s a good chance many people would not have heard of this 10-year-old black mare before this year, nor perhaps her rider, Georgia Wilson. But the talented pair were responsible for Britain’s sole gold medal from the Rotterdam European Championships in August, scoring a euphoric victory in the grade II para dressage freestyle, as well as winning individual silver and playing a huge role in helping the British team secure team silver. Georgia and Midnight have remained unbeaten since, sweeping the board at the national championships and the Keysoe CPEDI in October.

4. Headmore Bella Ruby

Alice Oppenheimer has many exciting horses in her string, but this Belissimo M daughter may not have caught your attention until this year. In April she won her first national title, taking the winter elementary gold title under Alice, before going on to scoop numerous other wins throughout the year. Her fast progression through the levels was confirmed when, just five months after her elementary title, she won the advanced medium gold at the summer nationals, aged just seven. This is definitely a mare to keep an eye on in 2020.

5. Mount St John Valencia

Charlotte Dujardin has claimed the national inter I freestyle title for the past three years, on three different mares, and in 2019 it was the turn of the fiery Vivaldi nine-year-old Mount St John Valencia. The mare competed very successfully under Michael Eilberg, but it has been during her first season ridden by Charlotte that she has turned the most heads — “she is my type of horse,” says the double Olympic champion.

6. Keystone Dawn Chorus

This Dimaggio daughter did very well under Beth Bainbridge at novice and elementary, but when she was bought by para multi-medallist Natasha Baker early in 2019 it seemed a perfect match. Natasha has had a stellar first season with the eight-year-old, whom she plans to campaign for the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020. Their successes in their short time together include being reserve national champions at novice silver, and wiping the board at their first international para competition in October.

7. MSJ Charmer

Charlotte Dujardin riding MSJ Charmer at Addington winter regionals 2019

Charlotte Dujardin often seems to have a never ending stream of fantastic horses, and early this year she debuted the exciting MSJ Charmer. The five-year-old Charmeur gelding is owned by Charlotte, along with Verity Jenner, but had been competed up until this year by Rob Barker, who rode him in four-year-old classes and qualified him for the regionals. He and Charlotte wasted no time making an impact together, winning at regionals and going on to become novice gold winter champions. “Cookie” has had a quiet 2019 since this success, but look out for him in 2020.