‘We had to tone down the rap – slightly’: Richard Davison leads charge on freestyle night at Hartpury CDI *H&H Plus*

  • Richard Davison trounced the opposition to win the grand prix freestyle at the NAF Five Star Hartpury CDI. Richard and his home-bred Lingh son Bubblingh posted 78.04% to top the leaderboard by almost 6%.

    Last-to-go Richard got toes tapping with his popular Gangsta’s Paradise routine, which always provides a refreshing change compared to more traditional choices of freestyle music. 

    “It’s probably getting to the stage where I need to change my freestyle, but I’ll probably stick to similar music  – I like it, although I appreciate it is slightly ironic at my age,” chuckled Richard, 65. “My sons were slightly alarmed [at the choice of freestyle music] and we had to tone down the rap section and the scratching slightly, but that’s all still in there.”

    Richard and Bubblingh also won the grand prix freestyle at Hartpury CDI in both 2017 and 2018, but haven’t ridden a music test since Olympic 2019. 

    “It was really lovely to ride to it as we haven’t done for a while. I had to really go through it all in my head beforehand and I wondered if I would remember where to go,” said Richard. “But it all came back and Bubblingh was great. He was quite electric in that arena, but in a very positive way, and I think he did some classy stuff in there. All our piaffes came off, and judge Stephen Clarke gave him an overall mark of nine for the piaffes.

    “After my test I was in the warm-up just cooling him off and I had a text from Carl Hester saying what a good score. I hadn’t even had a chance to look – I had to ask Carl what the score actually was!”

    Richard and Bubblingh, who were long-listed for the Tokyo Olympics, finished second in Friday’s grand prix, behind Fiona Bigwood and Hawtins Delicato. Richard explained that contrary to previous experience, Bubblingh was “possibly too relaxed” in the grand prix, but that the atmosphere of the evening performance on Saturday night improved the 15-year-old’s way of going. 

    “The last year has been great for him as we have been able to lay down some basic improvements. I’m excited – there’s loads of mileage left in him,” said Richard, of the tall, elegant gelding. “Normally I know where I’m competing all year on 1 January, but this year is different and we’re taking it a step at a time. Going to Aachen in September would be nice, and maybe some World Cup shows.”

    There was double joy for Richard as his student Jess Dunn led for most of the class, only to be beaten into second by Richard, who was last in. Jess was riding the 16-year-old Caricello son Alicante Valley, who stepped up to international grand prix just this year. 

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