Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle provided the perfect conclusion to the CDI3* grand prix at Hartpury, Glos, as they pulled a huge new personal best score out of the bag to top an extremely hot class.
Charlotte rode a fluent, powerful test with Emma and Jill Blundell’s 10-year-old Fidermark mare to earn 81.89%, with the individual judges’ scores ranging from 79.78% to 84.67%.
The only real blip in their stunning performance was a late change at the end of their huge extended canter, which Charlotte admitted was a “pat the horse, slap the rider” moment.
“She’s getting so much stronger and more confident in the arena, and letting me help her a bit more. She still over-tries but I’m so happy with everything. My changes felt great and all my piaffe-passage felt much better too,” said Charlotte, who plans to unveil her long-awaited kür with this mare on Saturday evening. “She makes me feel so emotional when I ride her.”
Carl Hester took second with the 11-year-old Diamond Hit son Hawtins Delicato. His 76.54% score also featured a sizeable discrepancy between judges, with marks from 73.27% up to 79.57%.
His test had some super highlights, with fantastic pirouettes and scores of nine for two of his piaffes.
“I’m really pleased with him — we nailed the pirouettes today; they were some of the best we’ve done, and the first piaffe was lovely. In the second the contact got a bit funny but then we picked it up again and that shows maturity. He was balanced and staying really forward in the test,” assessed Carl.
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Gareth Hughes was breathing down Carl’s heels, taking third with 75.7%. He and Classic Briolinca have enjoyed a stellar season so far and looked secure and relaxed here, with lovely changes and clockwork passage.
Richard Davison and Bubblingh claimed fourth, scoring 72.55% for a solid round, while Hayley Watson-Greaves slotted into fifth with her own Rubins Nite, the combination’s first outing since the Rubin Royal son took fright and bolted at Doha in April.
The grand prix freestyle takes place this evening, with Charlotte riding at 9.40pm.
Don’t miss the 11 July issue of H&H for a full report from Hartpury CDI3* and Premier League