Top British team horse makes winning comeback after 18 months out

  • Classic Briolinca, one of Britain’s most exciting grand prix dressage horses, is back in action, making a winning return to international competition at Compiègne CDI5O5* in France this morning (20 May).

    Gareth Hughes rode Classic Briolinca to victory in the CDI3* grand prix for special with 76.52%, and said he was “over the moon” with how the mare performed on her first major outing since October 2020.

    The 16-year-old Trento B mare was Britain’s best-performing horse at the 2019 European Championships, finishing individual seventh in the special, but sustained a front leg injury early in 2021, just as Gareth was gearing up to campaign her for the postponed Tokyo Olympics. While Gareth travelled to Tokyo as team alternate with his younger horse, Sintano Van Hof Olympia, and then won team silver as part of the British quartet at the European Championships in September, Briolinca was given 12 months to recover at home. Now, Gareth says he is hoping she will be his ride at this summer’s dressage World Championships, in Herning, Denmark.

    “With the way the shows fall this year, and campaigning for the worlds, I had to do this one. Compiègne is a big event, but she was amazing; as the test went on I felt her relax into it, and she felt really comfortable,” Gareth told H&H. “I am still being a bit careful with her after such a long rehabilitation, so I know there is still more in her.

    “I actually feel some of her collected work is even better than it was before and the changes as well. She is just beautiful and it’s so nice to have her back. I’m so pleased for her c0-owner Julia Hornig, and must give special mention to my groom, Steph Sharples, who has been unbelievable in bringing her back. We have taken as much time with her as we could and given ourselves the best chance we can this year.”

    Gareth’s plan is to take Briolinca and Sintano to the Wellington CDI in Hampshire in June, then aim for Bolesworth and possibly one more foreign show, before team selection for Herning.

    Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and Blue Hors Zepter filled second behind Gareth on a score of 75.78%, with Britain’s Lottie Fry in third on Dark Legend (73.54%). Charlotte Dujardin finished fourth with Imhotep with 72.8%, on the nine-year-old Everdale gelding’s international grand prix debut. The energetic chestnut coped well with the occasion and pulled in some very good marks, though a change behind in a pirouette proved expensive.

    In the CDI3* grand prix for freestyle, Lottie finished fifth with her up-and-coming grand prix horse Inclusive, on 70.5%, while Dylan Deutrom took sixth in the under-25 grand prix on Sunlit Uplands (67.01%).

    The five-star Nations Cup competition gets underway tomorrow, with Lottie Fry (Glamourdale), Fiona Bigwood (Hawtins Delicato) and Dan Watson (Butterfly IV) in action for Britain.

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