Reflecting on his latest successes with Barolo – it followed a victorious double at the Royal Windsor Horse Show last month – Hester was not only delighted with the victory, but also thrilled that Bolesworth’s first international dressage competition proved such a hit.
“It has been a brilliant two days,” he said. “The weather held up, the arena held up and the horse held up, which was the main thing. That was his fourth win in a row. He is a developing horse, he’s not at the top of the game yet, he is just getting there, so it has been brilliant to bring him here and see him develop.
I am looking forward to his future. He has now qualified for the European Championship, which is great. He is showing consistency, and we need shows like this to create a future for our competition horses. The two days here have been amazing for the sport.”
Earlier, the grand prix special class went to Denmark’s Anders Dahl, riding Sir Donato, on a score of 71.333 per cent. Gillian Davison continued a successful show with Alfranco, finishing second on 70.941 per cent, with rising British prospect Hayley Watson-Greaves third aboard Rubins Nite.
“He was really good today. It was one of the best tests I have ever ridden, so I was very pleased with him. He stayed focussed and did his job. He is a very good horse – we have had him since he was two-years-old – and I definitely think he is a very good one. It has been an absolutely amazing couple of days. This venue can easily compete with the best places in Europe. It is an amazing set-up.”
Charlotte Dujardin enjoyed a double success on day two of The Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show as she one again underlined her rich vein of equine talent. The double Olympic dressage champion got Thursday off to a flying start when she showcased the quality of Mount St John Freestyle in the Churchill Retirement Living Prix St Georges Invitational.
And then she followed it up by winning the seven-year-old championship on Florentina IV, winning both classes in emphatic fashion.
“It has been really good. I am really happy,” she said. “A massive thank you to Bolesworth for holding such a great show at such a great venue. Having some up and coming horses that probably maybe haven’t experienced big atmospheres or crowds has been great. We’ve ticked some boxes in terms of their experience, which has been brilliant.
It is really exciting. I am hoping Mount St John Freestyle will be a horse for next year – I am aiming her for the World Equestrian Games – and the future is so bright for Florentina. I feel so lucky to have so many up and coming youngsters. So many people said after Valegro that they thought it would be the last of me, but I always knew I had these horses sat at home. It has been absolutely fantastic this year. I just wanted an easier year where I could just focus on all my up and coming horses.”
Dujardin has high hopes for Mount St John Freestyle, which is making rapid strides towards grand prix level, and their performance in the morning sunshine did nothing to dampen enthusiasm. Drawn last to go, Dujardin cajoled an outstanding performance from her ride, posting a score of 77.193 per cent to win by more than 11 per cent from runner-up Annie Rawlins, on Donja, with Levi Hunt taking third aboard Abbey Tiron.
Bolesworth’s five-year-old championship, sponsored by Knowsley Safari Park, went to Lincolnshire rider Amy Woodhead, who proved a cut above the rest with MSJ Zonetta, gaining a score of 80 per cent.
Reflecting on her performance, Woodhead said: “I am absolutely thrilled. She is a lovely mare who is still very green, and we came here just to give her a nice time in the arena, and she went in and really performed.
“These classes are great for general experience for the horses. Some horses soak it up, and she feels like one of those horses.”
The battle for second and third places proved much closer, with Jayden Brown and MSJ Fascinate posting 75.2 per cent, which shaded Becky Moody and Heavenly Kiss BS into the final podium place, just 0.2 of a percentage mark behind. The six-year-old championship, sponsored by Cool Equestrian, saw Woodhead back in action, this time with MSJ Fustin Fugger, but it was not to be on this occasion as Tom Goode and Saint Julian took top honours.
Their score of 82.2 per cent secured victory over Jayden Brown and MSJ Top Secret, who had to be content with another runners-up spot, and third place went to Tim Heappey with Tantoni Dallaglio.
“It has been a great day,” Goode said. “The horse performed really well in what was a big atmosphere for him. We’ve had him since November. The good horses have to be able to cope, and you really know what type of horse you’ve got when they perform.”
The young horse events then drew to a close with the seven-year-old showcase, sponsored by Bluemantle, and Dujardin finished the day as she had started it, this time guiding Florentina IV to a comprehensive triumph.