Charlotte Dujardin completes a hat-trick, while an exciting horse follows in his famous father’s footsteps

  • Charlotte Dujardin, Nikki Barker and Jade Whitelaw were the winners on the final day of the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships.

    Nikki Barker walked away with the Nupafeed advanced medium freestyle honours, having scored 74.39% riding Dan Icarus. The nine-year-old gelding is a son of Nikki’s grand prix stallion Durable (by Spielberg) – who won this same title himself with Nikki back in 2017.

    “We got him as a foal from Viv Gleave who owns Durable with me and he is out of a Negro mare,” said Nikki of Reuben, whom she owns with Becky Harrow and calls “Mr Reliable”.

    “He has been a dream from day one, backed in minutes, was always easy. Every year he comes out and wins me a title – he’s a dude.”

    Reuben is the oldest of Durable’s offspring and is the spitting image of his father, known as Danny, who he is stabled next door to.

    “The paces are the same and they have the same wonderful hind leg in canter, with rhythm and great scope. Reuben is not quite as brave as Danny; he was a bit timid as a foal and still holds his breath a bit whereas Danny is a show-off. But generally to ride they are really similar,” explained Nikki, who plans to campaigning Reuben at prix st georges this year, while also bringing Danny back out at grand prix after a quiet winter.

    “Reuben has been so easy, the sort where if you’re tight for time you could leave him for the day. But he’s the easiest horse in the world and really talented so I don’t want him to end up at the bottom of the pile,” she added.

    “All Danny’s babies have been easy-going and clever. He really stamps them – they all look like him, and they’re not spooky or silly, or sharp in an unconstructive way.”

    Their winning test featured a relatively straightforward floorplan featuring lots of counter canter and impressive sweeping half-passes, set to music mostly based on The Last Samurai. Nikki revealed that she had made a “frantic” phone call to Ros Kay, who created their programme, on Thursday to say that the music didn’t quite match, and they had had to make some last-minute tweaks.

    Winter Dressage Championships: ‘He’s a bit of a monkey’

    Jade Whitelaw came out on top of the PDS Saddles elementary freestyle silver, and was thrilled to be presented with her prize by none other than Carl Hester. She and the six-year-old Late Night (Gunner KS x Rousseau) scored 74.1%, despite the chestnut gelding being a little “wild” in the warm-up.

    “I didn’t have high expectations after the warm-up and going round the outside there was a bit of reversing, but he seems to think he’s safe inside the white boards,” said Jade (pictured below), a process engineer for an oil and gas operator in Aberdeen. “He still felt a bit anxious, but the canter in particular was really good. I am super critical of myself and I came out thinking it could have been better and that it was a bit stuffy, so it was a surprise to win.”


    Jade bought the horse from the Netherlands as a just-backed three-year-old, trying 17 horses in two days, with Late Night the final horse to be brought out.

    “His name is Late Night and they said, ‘Here is your late night surprise!’ He was the one we liked the most but he was tricky, and he got me off a lot as a three-year-old. He’s a bit of a monkey,” said Jade.

    “He has been tricky at shows – we went to regionals last year and was naughty in every test so he hasn’t qualified for the Winter Dressage Championships before. But I have noticed in the last six months or so that although he can still be wild, he does seem to cope a bit better. He has still got more growing up to do; if he was more confident he would do a better test, but that is exciting. I have had a bit of confidence crisis too, over whether I can handle all his strength and power, but we just have to keep working away.

    Charlotte Dujardin makes it a hat-trick

    Charlotte Dujardin won her third title of the 2022 Winter Dressage Championships, taking the Horselight medium gold with 77.61% riding the quirky but talented Times Kismet, winner of yesterday’s Equi-Tex advanced medium gold as well.

    “She is just phenomenal to ride,” said Charlotte, explaining that the Ampere x Lord Leatherdale mare felt more settled in the Hartpury arena today, and so she was able to push for more in her test. “I didn’t want to play nice today –  I thought that if a mistake happens, a mistake happens, but she was firing on all cylinders.”

    Charlotte finished ahead of Jezz Palmer in second with Tiny Dancer.

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