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Britain’s brightest stars line up for Christmas championship showdown

Olympia and Liverpool may not be running this year but dressage fans can still get their festive fix this month.

The riders and horses due to take part in the LeMieux National Grand Prix Championships (21-22 December) at Hartpury have been announced. The line-up of Britain’s best riders features six previous national champions as well as partnerships aiming for team places and rising stars of the future.

“The final countdown is on to an extraordinary conclusion to what has been an extraordinary year,” said a British Dressage spokesman.

“The championships will be a celebration for us all to bring a difficult and challenging year to an end, as 30 of Britain’s best combinations battle it out for the coveted LeMieux national champion accolade. We’re really excited to unwrap an early present for you… the rider list!”

Riders and horses in alphabetical order:

  • Lucy Amy with her own Rudy (bay, gelding, 16.2hh, 11yrs)
  • Nikki Barker with her own and Viv Gleave’s Durable (bay, stallion, 17.2hh, 12yrs, s. Spielberg)
  • Nicola Buchanan with her own Half Moon Dark Magic (black, gelding, 17.1hh, 11yrs, s. Dimaggio)
  • Lara Butler with Ursula Bechtolsheimer and Laura Tomlinson’s Rubin Al Asad (bay, gelding, 17.1hh, 18yrs, Rubin Royal x Wanderbursch II)
  • Lewis Carrier with his own Diego V (dark bay, gelding, 16.2hh, 12yrs, s. Spielberg)
  • Kate Cowell with Audrey Lawrence and Christine Richards’ Samba Dancer (chestnut, gelding, 16.1hh, 14yrs, s. Samba Hit II)
  • Steph Croxford with her own Mr Benn II (black, gelding, 16.1hh, 11yrs)
  • Liz Dieguits with her own Saskia Hit (bay, mare, 16.3hh, 15yrs, Sandro Hit x Akzent I)
  • Charlotte Dujardin with Emma Blundell’s Mount St John Freestyle (bay, mare, 16.2hh, 11yrs, Fidermark x Donnerhall) and her own Gio (chestnut, gelding, 16hh, 9ys, Apache x Tango)
  • Emile Faurie with Theodora Livanos’ Dono di Maggio (chestnut, gelding, 16.2hh, 13yrs, Dimaggio x Santander H)
  • Paul Friday with Christine Trendell’s Winston Bond (bay, gelding, 16.2hh, 17yrs, s. OOSeven)
  • Dan Greenwood with Julie Leighton’s Chevalier O (bay, gelding, 16.3hh, 13yrs, Lord Letherdale x Negro)
  • Alexander Harrison with his own Diamond Hill (chestnut, gelding, 15.2hh, 9yrs, s. Don Diamond)
  • Carl Hester with Charlotte Dujardin’s En Vogue (dark bay, gelding, 17hh, 11yrs, s. Jazz)
  • Megan Ingham with Coral Ingham’s Wanadoo (chestnut, gelding, 16.2hh, 19yrs, Wolkenstein II x Cavalier)
  • Nathalie Kayal with her own DHI Homerun (bay, gelding, 16.2hh, 15yrs, Hochadel x Mooiman)
  • Lisa Marriott with her own Valucio (bay, gelding, 16hh, 11yrs, s. Va-vite)
  • Becky Moody with her own and Julie Lockey’s Carinsio (black, gelding, 16.3hh, 13yrs, Painted Black X Beaujolais) and her own Famke PF (bay, gelding, 16.2hh, 10yrs)
  • Sonnar Murray-Brown with his own Erlentanz (dark brown, gelding, 16.2hh, 13yrs, s. Latimer)
  • Alice Oppenheimer with Sarah Oppenheimer’s Headmore Davina (chestnut, mare, 16.3hh, 10yrs, Dimaggio x Rubinstein) and Headmore Dirubinio (chestnut, gelding, 17hh, 11yrs, Dimaggio x Rubinstein)
  • Keith Robertson with his own Boheme Af Sulstead (chestnut, gelding, 17hh, 16yrs, s. Bernstein)
  • Sadie Smith with her own Keystone Dynamite (chestnut, gelding, 16hh, 13yrs, Dimaggio x Escudo)
  • Laura Tomlinson with Ursula Bechtolsheimer and her own DSP Rose of Bavaria (black, mare, 16.3hh, 10yrs, Bordeaux x Florestan I)
  • Hayley Watson-Greaves with her own WG Rubins Night (black, gelding, 16.3hh, 16yrs, Rubin Royal x Limbo)
  • Amy Woodhead with Emma Blundell’s Mount St John Kom Fairytale (chestnut, mare, 16.2hh, 14yrs, Furst Heinrich x Weltmeyer)
  • Two more combinations will be announced in the near future.

“The scene is set for this festive extravaganza, and the atmospheric Hartpury international arena will feature Christmas decorations aplenty – but sadly no spectators, as the event will be taking place behind closed doors in accordance with our elite sport protocols,” the BD spokesman said, adding that all the action will be live-streamed free on Horse & Country.”

The Lemieux grand prix takes place on Monday, 21 December from noon, and fans will be able to compare their scores to the experts’ thanks to the Spectator Judging app.

The 15 highest-scoring combinations will take part in the Horse Health freestyle the next day. Coverage starts at 10.45am and the first horse will be in just after 11am. The combination with the highest combined score from the two tests will be named national champion.

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“Can Carl secure his 11th title, will it be win number four for Laura, a third crown for Emile or will Charlotte get her name on the role of honour for a second time?” said the spokesman. “Will it be a repeat performance for Hayley Watson-Greaves or Lara Butler? Or maybe a completely new name will find a place in the history books in this unique year. Watch with us for two days of world-class dressage performances to find out!”

LeMieux is also offering prizes worth £1,000 to spectators, in a competition to predict the winning percentage score in the freestyle.

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