For the second year running, Denmark won the team competition at the Hickstead CDIO (July 16-19), which was the last in this year’s FEI Nations Cup series.
It was, however, an extremely close competition and went to the wire — the second placed British team was just a few points behind — although the Danes, Anders Dahl (Wie Atlantico de Ymas), Sune Hansen (Charmeur) and Sidsel Johansen (Alibi D) also had a handicap of just three riders and therefore no drop score. Team Sweden was a close third.
While British dressage darling Carl Hester and Coral Ingram’s chestnut Wanadoo, competing in his first international, headed the grand prix, they were not team members so locally-based Dahl, who is married to British rider Fiona Bigwood, set the team up with a good second place on Bigwood’s former ride, Wie Atlantico de Ymas. Johansen, his compatriot, and Alibi D, who competed in their first international grand prix at Hartpury just last week, were third, and this up-and-coming international combination then went on to win the grand prix special.
Dahl also went home with another blue rosette for second place in the grand prix freestyle, which recorded yet another victory for Hester and Wanadoo.
Hickstead marked the end of the 2015 FEI Nations Cup series of six competitions and Germany, winner in Vidauban and Hagen, finishes this year’s league at the top of table, with The Netherlands and Sweden second and third.
Hickstead was another good show for Bedfordshire-based Alice Oppenheimer, who will have caught the selectors’ eyes, if not for this year, for the future: she was fourth in the grand prix and second in the special with the British-bred Headmore Delegate. Henriette Andersen and Warlocks Charm were just a few points behind. They continue to up their game and will be another combination to watch.
Oppenheimer also won the prix st georges (PSG) with Georgina Pole Carew’s homebred Tantoni Sir Soccrates, whose number of wins this year now runs into double figures.
This pair headed off Maria Eilberg and Royal Concert (second) and Paralympic rider Sophie Wells who was third with Valerius — these three being the only ones to score over 70%.
The trio also claimed the top three places in the freestyle, but here Eilberg got her own back with a win. Although only lightly competed this year, the good looking grey Royal Concert, owned by Hermione Black, Penny Pollard and rider, has always been in the top three.
The Inter I was another top slot for Hartpury small tour victors Becky Moody and Carinsio, another who is on flying form this year, having posted more than a dozen wins.
Hickstead is also home to its own young horse championships for five and six-year-olds. The talk of the town was the chestnut Hanoverian stallion Brandon, the winner of both national and international five-year-old classes with Berkshire-based producer and event rider Darren Hicks.
The pair stormed to victory in the national classes with a massive 89.8 % — ten percentage points ahead of anyone else —then took the international class with 81% and a 7% margin. Brandon, a licensed stallion by Bellisimo M out of a mare by Donnerhall, owned by Noora Alkhalisa, was acquired from Gert van Olst in The Netherlands last year. He came to the UK in November and is based with Spencer Wilton at Headley Stud. Brandon and Hicks now go to the Badminton Young Horse Championships next week.
The six-year-old championship was a much closer affair; the winner’s sash was presented to Sadie Smith and River Rise Escarla ahead of Kate Rowland and Erasmus I, with Dan Greenwood and Exige M in third.
Rowland and Erasmus, co-owned by his trainer, Irish international Roland Tong, then won the international class ahead of Dan Greenwood and Exige M, with former Olympic rider Vicki Thompson-Winfield third on Botero.
International Pony, Junior and Young Rider classes are also a feature of Hickstead.
British winners were Amy Schiessl and her British-bred Mr Mercury, who won both the Young Rider team and individual tests; Charlotte Dicker and Ian McRobbie’s mare Sabatini, members of this year’s British Junior team, and winners of the Junior team test; and Emily Bradshaw and her own Remarkable who headed the Junior freestyle.
The pony classes were dominated by the young Dutch riders, although the individual test resulted in a good win for Wiltshire-based Angus Corrie-Deane and the Dutch-bred Welsh part-bred Hagelkruis Vanentijns.
The British team for the FEI European Championships to be held in Aachen (August 12-16) has been announced.
As expected, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester spearhead the team challenge in Germany. Hester will be riding his and Jane de la Mare’s Nip Tuck while Dujardin will be riding her Olympic, World and European champion Valegro, owned by Roly Luard, Anne Barrott and Carl Hester. Dujardin and Valegro will also be defending their European Champions title they won in Herning in 2013.
Fiona Bigwood makes a return to the team with Atterupguaards Orthilia, owned by Penny Bigwood. Bigwood last competed in a British team in 2010 at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington with Wie Atlantico and came home with team silver.
The fourth place has gone to Michael Eilberg and Marakov, owned by Ferdi Eilberg. While Marakov is new to the team, Eilberg has been a team member for the last two years with Half Moon Delphi, who was sold to America a few months ago.
Spencer Wilton and Supernova II, owned by Jen Goodman and Spencer, are the first reserves, while Anna Ross and Jane Sewell’s mare, Die Callas, is the second reserve combination.
At the last European Championships in Herning (Denmark) in 2013, Britain won team bronze before nabbing the team silver at the 2014 World Equestrian Games.
Image: the Danish team at Hickstead, courtesy of the FEI.