Charlotte Dujardin beat Carl Hester to victory in the Al Shira’aa grand prix at Royal Windsor Horse Show this evening (10 May). The last to go of 13 competitors, Charlotte scored 78.58% to shoot straight to the top of the leaderboard with Emma Blundell’s Mount St John Freestyle.
This is only the nine-year-old mare’s second international, and third competitive grand prix, but she oozed quality throughout and made no major mistakes, with every judge having her in front, and Peter Storr at E awarding the pair 81.52%.
“I’m chuffed to bits with her, seeing as we’ve really done next to nothing,” said Charlotte of the Fidermark daughter. “It doesn’t matter how much you train at home, it’s not until you go in there that you really know where you are.
“It didn’t feel quite as sharp and crisp as it has done and there were little blips going into the piaffe and the transitions out, and the passage was not as regular as it has been, but she’s only nine.
“She’s actually just come into season so has been feeling a little tight in her back, but it’s a mare thing — what can you do!”
Carl posted 75.72% to take second in what was his first international grand prix with the 10-year-old Hawtins Delicato. Carl still has to hold ‘Del’s’ hand slightly during tests, but the Diamond Hit gelding presents a very impressive picture, with a piaffe to die for. They had a mistake in the one-time changes, and the pirouettes could have been tidier, but nonetheless Del is an exciting team prospect for Carl this year.
“He has so much presence and is lovely to sit on when he’s going; when I give him something to do he puts a lot of effort into it,”said Carl. “I’m thinking about the World Equestrian Games and trying to give him some nice rides. For a horse in his first year of grand prix, how lucky am I!”
Richard Davison rounded out the top three with the impressive Lingh son Bubblingh, scoring 70.83% to place him just ahead of Gareth Hughes and Don Carissimo, who were fourth with 70.73%. Hayley Watson-Greaves completed an all-British top five, posting 69.04% with Rubins Nite.
All 13 combinations go forward to tomorrow evening’s grand prix freestyle, which begins at 6.30pm.
Don’t miss the full report from Windsor in next week’s Horse & Hound, out 17 May.