Dressage fans heading to Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show next week (12-16 June) are in for a treat, with a stellar grand prix line-up that includes British team riders Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester, Gareth Hughes, Richard Davison and Emile Faurie.
Charlotte is due to compete two horses in the grand prix — making her eagerly-anticipated comeback on her WEG double bronze medallist Mount St John Freestyle (pictured above, right), as well as bringing forward the horse she has been making waves with during the first half of 2019, Sonnar Murray-Brown’s Erlentanz (pictured above, left).
But which of these two horses will come out on top in the battle between them at Bolesworth? We take a look…
Mount St John Freestyle
Breeding: Fidermark x Donnerhall
Owner: Emma and Jill Blundell
This mare is only in her second year of grand prix but already has a team and individual bronze from WEG in 2018 under her belt. However, she hasn’t competed since, and after nearly nine months out of the limelight, to perform at her best in the buzzing Bolesworth arena will be a tall order. It’s also worth considering that she has still only performed five international grands prix to date (though, with the exception of WEG, she is unbeaten at the level). But this precocious hugely powerful mare is brilliant in big atmospheres, and having been ridden by Charlotte since 2015, the pair know each other inside out.
Freestyle achieved her highest ever grand prix score when winning at Bolesworth last year — a huge 79.65%.
Breeding: Latimer x Benz
Owner: Sonnar Murray-Brown
“Erly” is a new ride for Charlotte this year, as she has taken over the reins while the gelding’s owner and regular rider Sonnar Murray-Brown recovers from a broken leg. Like Freestyle, Erly also made his grand prix debut last year and under Charlotte has made rapid progress during the first half of 2019. He still tends to get a little nervous in the arena, but as his confidence grows — and Charlotte learns more about him — his talent is becoming clearer, and he has no real weaknesses in the grand prix work.
Erly will arrive at Bolesworth off the back of a spectacular double win at Windsor last month, and with much more mileage over the past 12 months than Freestyle. His career best grand prix score — 78.09% — isn’t quite as high as the mare’s, but it was achieved on his last outing and if he continues his upwards trajectory, it’s quite possible that he could take the upper hand in Cheshire.
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A strong line-up
Giving both of Charlotte’s rides a serious run for their money will be Carl Hester and Hawtins Delicato (below), the combination who helped Britain to team bronze at WEG and to Nations Cup at the Compiègne CDIO5* last month. Del is on super form and has an excellent chance of edging into the top spot at Bolesworth.
Gareth Hughes and his lovely mare Classic Briolinca will also arrive at Bolesworth full of confidence after achieving a career-best in Compiègne to win the grand prix special in hot company. A good grand prix result here will help enormously towards their campaign for European championship selection.
Richard Davison brings forward Bubblingh, with whom he campaigned the winter World Cup season in an effort to minimize the Lingh son’s stagefright in the arena. It looks to have paid off — the pair performed strongly at Windsor and Compiègne and could pull off a great result here.
Emile Faurie joins the fray with his new grand prix ride, the 10-year-old Café’s Caletta. This mare is in just her first year of grand prix, and looks to be a very exciting prospect for the future.
Don’t miss our full coverage from Bolesworth in the 20 June issue of H&H