Rising stars do Britain proud with exciting debuts at Opglabbeek CDI3* in Belgium
GARETH HUGHES’ upcoming star made a big impression on his international grand prix debut. The 11-year-old Sandro Hit son Sintano Van Hof Olympia proved he can hold his own on the big stage, following up a 74.2% grand prix for fifth with third place in the grand prix special.
Sintano’s quality and talent shone through to earn 72.4%, and slot in behind Edward Gal on his Tokyo Olympics hope, the Totilas son Glock’s Toto Jr, and Hans Peter Minderhoud on his European medallist Glock’s Dream Boy.
“We only venture across the Channel when the horses are really ready, so although we think we have good horses, we’ve got to get in the arena with the other big guns to find out. But Sintano did us proud. He has given us a lot to work with; he’s a team horse in the making,” said Gareth.
The gelding’s greenness showed in the special with an error at the end of the one-tempis, and a couple of miscommunications in transitions, but Gareth was delighted with his attitude.
“It was a big spooky arena and a real test for him, but he tries so hard. He is big and scopey and has to learn to hold himself together, so we can get him a bit snappier underneath himself. But to start off [his international career] on those scores is not bad!”
With his top horse Classic Briolinca currently out of action due to a recent injury, Gareth plans to take Sintano to Wellington CDI in May.
“If his scores there are enough to put him in contention for anything, then we will make a plan for him with something to work towards,” he said.
Laura Tomlinson joined Gareth in Belgium, taking the 11-year-old Vivaldi stallion Fallatijn for his grand prix debut. He also showed potential, scoring a shade under 70% in the grand prix and 62.9% in the special.
“He got a bit scared of the flappy flags in the second test, and he reminds me so much of another ginger superstar I had,” Laura said, referencing her Olympic team gold and individual bronze medallist Mistral Højris.
Emile Faurie had also planned to compete in Opglabbeek with his World Equestrian Games ride Dono Di Maggio, but had to turn for home when a paperwork issue in Calais prevented him from continuing on to Belgium.
This report can also be read in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 29 April
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