Olympic silver medallist Fiona Bigwood and Hawtins Delicato took another step towards cementing their partnership by following up grand prix victory with a win in the NAF Five Star Hartpury CDI grand prix special as well.
Fiona, who bought the World Equestrian Games team bronze medallist from Carl Hester in 2020, were second-last to go in the class and scored 72.96% – the pair’s best special score to date — to push Becky Moody and Famke PF into the runner-up slot.
Fiona explained that she felt this show has marked a turning point in her budding relationship with the sensitive but supremely talented Diamond Hit son. Having already been long-listed for the Tokyo Olympics with Del, Fiona is now setting her sights on competing in Aachen in September.
Becky, who scored 70.87% with Jo Cooper’s 11-year-old Houston x Cabouchon mare, said: “There were good bits and bad bits. It’s only her second special, and she was a bit lacking in confidence in the piaffe; going from the walk to the piaffe she was just a little more edgy. She was more confident in the second one, and the third one on the centre line was lovely, until I tried to put a bit more energy into it, and it went a little bit wrong.
“But the fundamental balance is really starting to come better, so the extensions and so on, that would have been really testing for her in the past, were a lot better, and her changes were good.
“We have very low mileage together, really; we still don’t know each other in a show environment yet. She’s a really genuine mare – she just needs to get her confidence.”
In third, Finland’s Mikaela Soratie is hoping that her mark of 70.49% with Hot Casanova is enough to qualify her for the European Championships in September.
After three years in the UK, this was Mikaela’s last British show – she is moving to the Netherlands in two weeks’ time.
“I’m overwhelmed and rather emotional,” she said. “This was our absolute best test up to now. He was so good! He was really sensitive and still with me – it felt like every stride was mine, and it was a lovely feeling.”
Mikaela has had the 12-year-old, who is by Blue Hors Hotline, since he was three years old.
“It’s a long journey to come to grand prix; this is our first international grand prix,” she said. “I’m very pleased that it’s going in the right direction, and that every time it is going a little bit better.
“He’s very willing, and really tries. He’s focused and a really nice competition horse. The Europeans are our main goal this year, which is very exciting.”
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Hawtins Delicato, the former medal-winning ride of Carl Hester, will now be campaigned by British Olympic rider Fiona Bigwood