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New Christmas show to crown British dressage champion

Good news is on the horizon for dressage fans following the cancellation of Olympia as British Dressage (BD) reveals plans for a Christmas celebration to crown a national grand prix champion.

The LeMieux grand prix national championships at Hartpury College has been added to the dressage calendar for 21 and 22 December, staged with the help of Carl Hester.

It will mean a national grand prix champion, usually decided at the BD national championships in September that were cancelled this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic, will be crowned for 2020.

The two-day championship will host the LeMieux grand prix on Monday, featuring 25 to 30 combinations, with the top 15 going forward to the Horse Health freestyle on tuesday.

The horse and rider with the highest combined score will be crowned 2020 LeMieux national champions.

The show will be held behind closed doors, following Covid-safe protocols. It will be livestreamed for free on Horse & Country, with highlights available on demand for subscribers.

BD chief executive Jason Brautigam said to get this competition back in the calendar is a “great boost for everyone”.

“Just in time for Christmas too,” he added.

“The loss of all of our top events this year, from Windsor, Bolesworth, Hartpury and Hickstead, to the Olympics, Nationals, HOYS and Olympia, has been a real blow to everyone in our sport, whether riders, owners, coaches, officials or spectators, but we hope this will go some way to making up for it.

“Having the top combinations in the country go head to head doesn’t happen very often due to the international calendar, so all being well we’re in for a spectacular couple of days and a real treat to end the year.

“Thank you to Robert Lemieux, Horse & Country and Hartpury for helping us to make this happen and give our members a unique Christmas gift to reward their support through 2020.”

Qualification criteria to define the riders who will take part is being finalised by BD’s senior selection panel, headed by international teams director, Judy Harvey.

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“This will hopefully be a great way to end a terrible year – and being able to crown a true British national champion will be a unique experience,” said Robert Lemieux.

“LeMieux is delighted to sponsor these two days of top class competition and continue our support of British Dressage.”

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