Olympic silver medallist Spencer Wilton and his double championship ride Super Nova II have made their long-awaited comeback after nearly 10 months out of competition.

The 15-year-old De Niro son had only made one competition appearance since representing Britain at 2017 European Championships in Gothenburg, achieving a grand prix special victory in Darmstadt-Kranichstein, Germany, last September. But the tall gelding hardly looked as though he has been out of action, scoring 75.85% for a classy test to finish third behind Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester in today’s CDI3* grand prix at Hartpury.

“He finished last year really well, but when he came back in after a break he just had a couple of little niggles,” Spencer explained. “I could have rushed him back to do other shows, but I spoke to the selectors about it, and it was my risk so I thought I’d leave it as long as I could.

“I’m really delighted with him today — he doesn’t feel as though he’s been out at all. It’s given us both confidence,” Spencer told H&H.

Charlotte added to Mount St John Freestyle’s growing tally of international victories, with a 77.43% win here. The pair had some mistakes, with Emma Blundell’s nine-year-old mare feeling the scorching heat and looking reluctant to piaffe, but also produced some outstanding work to rake in the high scores elsewhere.

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Carl slotted into the second with his own, Lady Anne Evans and Ann Cory’s 10-year-old Hawtins Delicato. The Diamond Hit son produced an excellent performance for 76.09%, with just one sticky moment coming out of the first piaffe.

“I made the first passage too big and he couldn’t cope in the piaffe and got stuck,” Carl told H&H. “Every test is a learning curve, but you’ve got to go for it at a place like Hartpury.”

Richard Davison took fourth with 72% on Bubblingh, with Sonnar Murray-Brown and Erlentanz taking fifth with 71.6%.

Don’t miss next week’s issue for the full report from the Harpury Festival of Dressage, including the CDI3*, CPEDI3* and Premier League, on sale on 12 July.