Charlotte Dujardin @RoyalWindsorHorseShow/Peter Nixon
Day two of Royal Windsor Horse Show saw Great Britain’s golden girl of Dressage, Charlotte Dujardin, take victory in The Defender CDI4* FEI Dressage Freestyle, picking up where she left off before the birth of her daughter in March. In the Showing, there was a debut success for His Majesty The King, whose former racehorse First Receiver took the RoR Tattersalls Thoroughbred Ridden Show Series Qualifier (Flat) supported by Royal Windsor Racecourse. The Martin Collins Enterprises Puissance saw a joint victory for Derek Morton and Commandant Geoff Curran, who both jumped an impressive 2.12m. Performances from the Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, the Musical Drive of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, and Azerbaijan – Land of Fire added to the excitement of the day, which also featured The Defender Shetland Pony Grand National and the DAKS Pony Club Mounted Games.
Dujardin continued her Royal Windsor Horse Show dominance, claiming victory in The Defender CDI4* FEI Dressage Freestyle to add to her Grand Prix win. In doing so, she repeats her dual triumph from 2019 – the last time international Dressage was held at the Show.
Kathleen Kröncke took an early lead as third to go. With music that suited her horse perfectly, Kröncke received excellent artistic scores of over 80% to contribute to an overall mark of 76.365%. Laura Tomlinson, riding Fallatijn, a horse she has produced since 2016, was second behind Kröncke going into the half time break. However, with several strong combinations to come the leaderboard was by no means secure.
Louise Anne Bell was the first to enter the arena after the break, excelling in her piaffe and passage to go into third with a score of 72.590%. Showing no evidence of her recent break from competition, Charlotte Dujardin set the Castle Arena alight with an athletic and fluid performance aboard her 10-year-old gelding, Imhotep. Dujardin’s impressive test was the first to break the 80% barrier, receiving a score of 83.200% and setting the standard for those to come.
On his debut at Royal Windsor Horse Show, Lewis Carrier put in an impressive performance to go into second place with a score of 77.405%. Carrier, who has already experienced success in the Under-25 ranks, cemented his status amongst the best up-and-coming talent in the country aboard Diego V. As last to go, Dujardin’s 2022 FEI World Championship teammate Gareth Hughes looked to put her lead in jeopardy with the experienced Classic Briolinca. However, his score of 80.510 was only enough for eventual second, pushing Carrier back to third.
Dujardin said: “I was so excited to come here; it was really not in my schedule to rush back after having my daughter, but I got on and felt really good. I absolutely love this show, so here I am! I was so excited to be here, back out here riding and competing; for me it’s just such a buzz and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Of Imhotep, she continued: “He hasn’t competed since the World Equestrian Games last year, so it was a huge ask for him to come here as it’s such a huge atmosphere! I’m a bit ring rusty, he’s a bit ring-rusty, we’re still making mistakes, but he’s such an incredible horse to come to this kind of show and perform the way he has the past two days. I can’t ask for more. To get this under our belt is absolutely fantastic.”
Royal Windsor Horse Show Debutante, Carrier, added: “The atmosphere here is incredible – Diego V really rose to the occasion; he didn’t put a foot wrong even though he was so fresh. It is only the third time I have ridden through the test and my first time in a competitive environment. I wish there were more shows like Royal Windsor in the UK – the crowds have been unbelievable and right behind me from the start. I had a tear in my eye halfway through my test, and my final halt was the perfect way to finish.”
With a total field of over 1,700 entries, Royal Windsor’s Showing classes got underway with a victory for His Majesty The King, who has a total of 15 entries over the course of the four days. First Receiver, handled by Katie Jerram-Hunnable, won The Tattersalls ROR Open In Hand Show Series Qualifier to qualify for the final at Aintree in August. The six-year-old gelding by New Approach was a winner on the racecourse in Her Late Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II’s colours when trained by Sir Michael Stoute.
After a competitive Working Show Horse sponsored by Mr and Mrs Michael Rider, only two marks separated the first and second-placed riders, but it was Justine Armstrong-Small riding Sarah McKay’s 12-year-old cob, Castleberg, who was victorious. Francoise Babington aboard West Point, a full-brother to four-time Champion Hunter and 2022 Horse of the Year Supreme Champion, View Point, followed closely behind in second.
Rustic fences continued to feature as the hard-fought NAF Five Star Working Hunter classes took to the Castle Arena. The top Lightweight spot went to Royal Windsor regular Libby Cooke, partnered by Katy Wilson’s much-loved homebred mare, Nelly Newton, whilst the Heavyweight class went to Norfolk-based Eleanor Hirst, who claimed a well-deserved Championship riding her impressive grey, Noble Gladiator (OB). En route to success, the pair only dropped four marks from the possible 100.
The vet judging the National Welfare awards noted: “All six finalists in the heavyweight working hunter section were of a tip-top and prime condition and worthy of the award.”
Rounding off the first day of Showing was the Coloured Ridden Championship. There was barely a dry eye in the house when sponsors Richard and Lisha Leeman presented their daughter Janay Atherden with the splendid Coloured Ridden Championship sash, on the family’s home-produced Red Rock III.
The famous Puissance wall took centre stage in the Castle Arena on the opening day of Show Jumping. Of the seven starters, five combinations made it through to the fifth and final round. Defending champion Derek Morton, riding KBS High Quality, was first to clear the 2.12m wall to guarantee a minimum of joint first place in his first Puissance since last year’s Royal Windsor. Next up, Nici Wilson – in her first ever Puissance – was not able to match Morton’s feat in this final round, but it was an impressive performance for a combination more used to the field of Eventing. It was Commandant Geoff Curran, the only other to clear the imposing wall, who scored the joint victory aboard Bishops Quarter.
A delighted Morton said: “The last time I jumped a Puissance was here in 2022. I had a fall last July and broke my hip, so this is only the second time I’ve ridden the horse since. He’s twelve-year-old Irish-bred and we’ve had him since he was a six-year-old. I originally went to look at him as a Working Hunter, but he’s got a big jump, so is perfect for this. I’m very lucky.”
Earlier in the day, the national Show Jumping got underway in The Martin Collins Enterprises Frogmore Arena with the Senior Foxhunter – First Round sponsored by Al Shira’aa. Of the 96 starters, it was Hollie Pearce with the eight-year-old El Macho Van Plockroy Z who jumped double clear in a time of 33.49 seconds (almost a second faster than Haitham Salahuddin Albastaki in second) to take the win. The 12 highest placed six-year-olds from this class qualified for The Walwyn Novice Jumping Championship supported by Al Shira’aa in the Castle Arena. Of these, four made it through to the jump-off against the clock, with Nicole Lockhead Anderson coming out on top riding Quanthargos.
The win concluded a successful day for Lockhead Anderson, who had earlier secured fourth place in the LeMieux National 1.40m Open, a class won by Sally Goding and her homebred mare Spring Willow for the second consecutive year. Goding clinched the class with a double clear in a time of 30.63 seconds, 0.34 seconds ahead of Emily Sage in second, with Adrian Whiteway back in third.
Video of the Day: https://youtu.be/ZDVbWPVjxJI
To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show, or to book tickets, visit www.rwhs.co.uk.
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Niki McEwen / rEvolution / email@example.com