‘Carl made it look easy’: Fiona Bigwood wins Hartpury grand prix on British medallist *H&H Plus*

  • A beaming Fiona Bigwood believes that she has “really turned a corner” with Hawtins Delicato after winning the Hazlewoods-sponsored grand prix at the NAF Five Star Hartpury CDI.

    Fiona, who won team silver for Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics, bought the Diamond Hit 13-year-old – a team bronze medallist at the 2018 World Equestrian Games – from Carl Hester in 2020. This was their first international grand prix victory together, and their best score – 74.09% – to date.

    “I am absolutely thrilled,” she said. “I am eventually finding the buttons on this horse. He is so fun to ride and goes in with so much energy, but it’s just that Carl always used to make it look so easy, and I’m just trying to work it out. I feel like I’ve really turned a corner now.

    “I loved the last centre line – he was really going, I totally trusted him and off he went. He’s just really good fun to ride. He wants to do it.

    “I think people always underestimate what it’s like to take on a horse from someone else – they think, ‘oh, you’re buying a schoolmaster and it’s fine’, but they are all special, these horses, and you’ve got to get that partnership and it does take time,” she added.

    “There are two shows in Belgium that I’m hoping to go to, just to get him out – I think the more shows we go to, the better. I’m competitive, I have my goals, and I’d love to go to Aachen in September. But it’s just about having fun – I’m 45 and it’s about enjoying the horse.”

    Richard Davison led for most of the 27-starter class with a mark of 71.69% on the experienced 15-year-old Bubblingh, only to be pipped at the post by Fiona.

    “I had quite a nice ride – a very different ride to I’ve ever had before, because he was actually quite relaxed and in fact possibly too relaxed in certain places, so that was a bit of a new experience,” said Richard. “It is one I welcome, I must say, because I’ve been looking for it for the last five years. If I was to criticise, he needs to be a little more switched on, but it’s hard ever to imagine saying that about Bubblingh.”

    Richard may also target the Aachen CHIO in September, and possibly some World Cup shows in the winter.

    Third was Becky Moody with 71% aboard Jo Cooper’s 11-year-old mare Famke PF.

    She said: “For where we’re at, it was just a really solid round with loads of room for improvement, which is what’s really exciting because to get 71% at her first international when there’s so much that I know can be better is really cool.”

    Becky took on the ride on Famke when the mare was an eight-year-old.

    “She’s the first horse I’ve had as an older horse – I’ve always had young horses that I’ve produced all the way through,” said Becky. “I did spend pretty much two years at home, just training and getting everything how I wanted it to be, but she does have a real talent for the piaffe and passage, and that’s what’s cool. I haven’t got it in the arena anywhere like I can get it at home yet, but she has a lot of talent there.

    “It’s been a real learning curve, for sure, but she’s cool.”

    Becky added: “She’s a real sweetheart. She’s a sassy cow in the stable sometimes – she’s a proper mare – and she’s quite sensitive to ride in the sense that you definitely have to ask her to do stuff; you don’t tell her to do stuff – that’s not appreciated.”

    Louise Bell and Into The Blue took joint fourth place with Finland’s Mikaela Soratie (Hot Casanova), both achieving a score of 69.37%.

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