Meet ‘the ultimate family horse’ who won the grand prix at Windsor

  • Gareth Hughes and the 13-year-old gelding Classic Goldstrike (Tango x Krack C) were winners of The Defender CDI4* FEI Dressage grand prix on the first day of the Royal Windsor Horse Show (1 May), scoring 71.95% – but that’s only the latest accolade in what has been a varied, and impressive, career for the much-loved Goldstrike.

    Goldstike has been co-owned by Gareth and Rebecca Hughes alongside Julia Hornig since he was a three-year-old. He’s been competed by both Gareth and Rebecca and also by their daughter Ruby – who made her grand prix debut on Goldstike when she was only 15.

    “He’s the family horse,” explained Rebecca. “I produced him up to inter II, so he had all the grand prix work in him but he needed a bit of polish at it so I asked Gareth to ride a couple of grand prix tests on him.”

    Gareth and Goldstrike made their grand prix debut together at Onley Equestrian Centre in April 2022, scoring 67.71% to win. The following year Gareth and Goldstrike made their international debut at Addington CDI and Ruby also began riding him in junior and young rider classes.

    “Ruby was competing a horse called World Exclusive at young riders at the time and we decided to run Goldstrike as a junior horse just so she had a backup,” added Rebecca. “They did two shows together and got selected for the junior dressage European Championships – but that was never the plan!”

    Classic Goldstrike: “We call him Forrest Gump… he always tries his best”

    Goldstrike was no stranger to Ruby, she’d been having lessons on the lunge with him since she was 10-years-old. Ruby – who also represented Britain at the senior European Vaulting Championships in 2019 – even begun vaulting on Goldstike.

    Together they went on to be part of Britain’s bronze-medal-winning junior European Championships team in Kronberg, Germany (2023). As a pony rider, Ruby had twice represented Britain at the European Championships, but this was their championship debut at junior level, with the combination scoring 70.45% to place 17th individually.

    Their grand prix debut came in December, with the combination scoring 66.63% to come second. In doing so, Ruby became one of the youngest-ever riders to compete at grand prix.

    What makes that achievement even more remarkable is that although Goldstrike is obviously very adaptable, he wasn’t a veteran campaigner or experienced schoolmaster – at the time he had less than 10 starts at grand prix.

    Ruby and Goldstrike were in action just a week before Goldstrike’s Windsor win, scoring 68.33% in a junior test at Addington Premier League.

    “Ruby, Rebecca and I have all done grand prix tests on him now,” said Gareth. “Ruby rode him at Addington last weekend, then I brought him here having not competed him since December. We had no expectations but he always steps up and surprises us – we call him Forrest Gump.

    “He’s an amazing little horse. He was one of the horses who has never been one of our top horses, he’s always been a backup. But as backup, he’s now popping to the top and he’s turned into a more successful horse than we ever imagined.

    “He always starts with a bit of a groan but he grows as the test goes on and always tries his best.”

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