‘It was all or nothing today’: Gareth Hughes wins ‘the one that got away’ and is crowned British National Dressage champion

  • “That, up to now, has been the one that got away,” declared Gareth Hughes after being crowned LeMieux British National Dressage Champion with his own and Judy Firmston-Williams’ Sintano Van Hof Olympia at the 2022 LeMieux National Dressage Championships.

    The LeMieux British National Dressage title was awarded to the highest total for the Kudos grand prix freestyle and the LeMieux grand prix and following a slightly tense test in Saturday’s grand prix, Gareth, last to go, had to score over 77.08% to take the crown. He grabbed it with both hands as ‘Piglet’ put in a breathtaking display to score 79.88% to win the freestyle as well.

    “Close arenas like this are not easy for him as he can be quite nervy but it was all or nothing today,” said Gareth. “I used Classic Briolinca’s World Championship music which is by far the hardest test he’s ever done. It’s one tight line after the other, particularly the trot half pass into passage half pass into piaffe pirouette and back to passage, if anything was going to catch him out it was going to be that but if I was going to ask that question if not here then when?”

    He certainly did ask every question of the 12-year-old Sandro Hit/Silvano N gelding, finishing the final centre line single handed into the salute which surprised daughter Ruby to remark: “Since when had my dad gone one-handed?!”

    It certainly topped off what has been a magical year for the Warwickshire-based rider.

    “I’ve been pretty lucky in my career and filled every ambition, World and European Championships but this is the one I missed out on so it’s very special.”

    What perhaps made it even more special was that it was Judy’s birthday.

    “It is totally the best birthday present I’ve ever had, in fact it’s all a bit overwhelming,” she said. “I’d always wanted a grand prix horse and he was my big gamble. This, today, wasn’t on my bucket list until recently but boy did he tick it off in style.”

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