Double Olympic champion and triple world-record holder Charlotte Dujardin turned back the clock as she returned to the Horse of the Year Show at Birmingham’s NEC in winning fashion.
Dujardin, riding Hawtins Delicato, landed the Arbonne Dressage Future Elite Championship title on a score of 78.62%, thrilling a bumper Friday night crowd in the process.
And it evoked fond memories for the London-2012 and Rio-2016 Olympic gold medallist, who was highly successful in showing before she moved into dressage and won at the Horse of the Year Show.
“It is a privilege to be here riding,” she said. “There are lots of childhood memories for me being here, with competing in showing classes and winning a couple of times.
“Going into the main arena under the spotlight was always every girl’s dream, so to come here and ride here again, to win and go and then do it all again with the presentation was brilliant. It was so much fun.”
Dujardin won a national title with Hawtins Delicato last month, and with her legendary ride Valegro set to be retired later this year, he could be a future star for her.
“He is going to be a top horse, really special,” Charlotte added. “He is only eight, and that was only his second competition to music.
“It was also the first time in a massive indoor arena for him as well, so he dealt with all the pressure and the hot atmosphere really well.
“He was a bit tense at the start, but as I went through the test, he settled and I was really happy with him.”
British showjumping star Guy Williams, meanwhile, completed a quickfire double success as he dominated the early action on day three at the Horse of the Year Show.
Barely four hours after winning the JMA Agricultural Parts Trophy speed class with 14-year-old chestnut gelding Casper de Muze, Williams landed the Grandstand Media Five Fence Challenge and its top prize of £3,300 on Depardieu van ‘t Kiezelhof.
The Five Fence Challenge features a course of five fences that increase in height after each round, with riders jumping a maximum of five rounds, gaining two points for jumping a fence, but if a fault is collected then combinations cannot compete any further.
Williams jumped four successive clear rounds, which was enough to see off the challenge of runner-up Denis Lynch, with Camila, while a six-way tie for third featured John Whitaker (Leen O.L), Portugal’s Mario Wilson Fernandes (Sahel Villa Rose), Joe Clayton (Millioninmind), Karel Cox (Flintstone van’t Eigenlo), Helen Tredwell (Sebastian VII) and Julien Epaillard (Tradition de la Roque).
Depardieu, 13, is a successful and seasoned campaigner, and Williams was understandably thrilled following another impressive performance by the grey gelding.
“It was a good result. The horse has won Masters events in the past, which are similar-type classes to this one, and he’s very good at them,” he said.
“He is a really big jumper. He was a little bit lucky in the third round at the last fence, but we all need a bit of luck, and we got away with it. He wasn’t going to hit in the fourth round, that’s for sure.”