British dressage guru Carl Hester wowed Windsor on Friday, pulling off another win at the Royal Windsor Horse Show on Nip Tuck.
And the Queen was again on hand to watch her horses go through their paces at the show.
Hester headed a British one-two in the FEI Grand Prix freestyle to music, delighting a full house with a winning test on Nip Tuck that scored high artistic marks and a final total of 79.45%, just short of a personal freestyle best for the pair.
The combination, members of the British team that won silver at the World Equestrian Games last year, ably demonstrated rhythmic trot work, passage and piaffe and beautifully fluent changes of which his rider was particularly proud.
“This horse has never, in all his tests made a mistake in his changes – all he wants to do is his best and he always tries his hardest,” said Hester, who was disappointed with the final mark.
“My aim was 80% and we didn’t quite make it – perhaps the walk wasn’t quite the same as in the grand prix but no matter he was really good. Make no mistake this arena is a major ring with a big atmosphere and it is so good for us to be able to ride here.”
The win followed Thursday’s grand prix win, in which Hester’s pupil Fiona Bigwood was second with her young mare Atterupsgaards Orthilia.
The result was mirrored on Friday, with Bigwood again second in an emotional return to the top. Not only was it a big welcome back for Bigwood who suffered a serious fall a year ago but she also rode her freestyle to music made for her former horse Mr G who tragically died in a field accident.
“I haven’t ridden to that music for four or five years and it was all a bit emotional for me – I loved Mr G and I love Tilly also,” Bigwood said. “I had no idea how she would react to the atmosphere, music and the crowd as she is quite hot but she just got on with it and has such a great attitude.”
The mare, who was found in Denmark 18 months ago, has a natural ability for piaffe and passage and was described by Hester as ‘an 80% horse’.
Bigwood’s husband, Danish rider Anders Dahl, kept it in the family with third place on Wie Atlantico. It was also one place higher than last year for the combination, which showed particularly impressive passage.
Atlantico, who has now competed at grand prix for eight years, was formerly ridden by Bigwood to win British team silver in 2010 and was then subsequently ridden by Hester when Fiona was expecting before going to Anders. And he is now ridden by their daughter – albeit on the lunge.
“He is just the most, kindest genuine horse there is,” said Fiona.
Crown equerry wins driving award
The coaching marathon drew an unprecedented crowd round the Castle Arena anxious to see the splendid spectacle of 16 coaches drawn by lively teams of four horses. Among them was the crown equerry, Col Toby Browne LVO, driving The Queen’s team of bays to an original park drag. His immaculate presentation earned him the award for the best turned out entry.
Col Toby Browne was joined by nine other teams of horses put to park drags, together with four road coach turnouts and two regimental coaches. All completed a nine-mile marathon through the Home Park before coming back into the arena. The championship was awarded to Bill Ginns with his team of Hackneys put to an original drag by Marston, while John Brown with his magnificent team of bays put to the Tally Ho Road Coach built by Shanks in the 1890s stood reserve.
At the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix dressage arena it was the turn of the pony four-in-hands. Bram Chardon from the Netherlands – current world pony four-in-hand gold medallist and son of the famous Dutch FEI horse four-in-hand competitor Ijsbrand, has a clear lead from the rest of the field. His closest challenger is Tinne Bax who was placed fourth individually at the 2013 World Pony Championships.
Reigning Four-in-Hand combined champion driver Chester Weber topped Thursday’s dressage phase to head the leaderboard. The US driver put up a score of 36.22, with World Equestrian Games champion, Australia’s Boyd Exell, close behind in second with 36.57. Third is the Netherlands’ most successful driver, Ijsbrand Chardon.
Fewer than 1.5 penalties separate top three, which will make for breath-holding competition in Saturday’s cross-country marathon.
Major jumping class to Ireland’s Billy Twomey
Billy Twomey thrilled the crowd with a perfect round on Ardcolumn Duke to take out Friday’s feature class, the Bahrain Pearl Stakes. With an early draw in a 17-strong jump-off, the Nottinghamshire-based rider had to put the pressure on with a strong target time.
“He’s always competitive,” said Twomeyy, who beat France’s Adeline Hecart (Question d’Orval) into second place. “I knew if I put in a good time I’d be in with a good chance.”
The 11-year-old stallion has recently returned to competition having had some time off for semen collection. His comeback began two weeks ago at Newark and Nottinghamshire County Show.
“He’s stepped up again here and I’ll be jumping him in the Alltech Grand Prix [for the Kingdom of Bahrain Trophy] on Sunday,” Twomey said.
The Manama Speed Stake proved a happy hunting ground for Laura Renwick, well known as a dangerous rival against the clock. Riding the seven-year-old Ulievka de Breve, Britain’s leading lady rider took and held the lead from fellow countryman Robert Smith aboard Candy Boy.
The day’s remaining international class, the Land Rover Stakes, culminated in a 13 horse jump-off. The result was another victory for the home country with Danny McGlynn and Atletico Van D’Abelendreef taking first place ahead of Harry Charles, son of Olympic Gold Medallist Peter Charles, and Vivaldi du Dom.
On Thursday, Britain’s Jordan Marshall, 17, claimed her first senior international win, riding Unique in the CSI1* Thames Speed Stakes.
The former successful pony rider was drawn late to go in the speed contest and finished with a huge four-second advantage over late-charging runner-up MacKenzie Ray (Audrey) and the former leader Emily Moffitt (Ferox B) of the USA.
Moffitt had better fortunes in the following St George Two-Phase, riding HHS Fafa. With the advantage of final draw, she snatched the lead from British long-time leader Sophie Tobin (Quite Cadiz).
The USA’s Olympic gold medalist Laura Kraut and Thalis de la Rougue claimed their second national show jumping win of the week in the Land Rover Grades B and C Handicap. Meanwhile, Britain’s Mavis Spencer and Marchello, took the Olympic Star Spotters top prize, and her fellow countryman Max Routledge (Carus Royale) claimed the Grades A and B Jumping Competition.
Queen’s OTTB wins retrained racehorse class
Watched under the eagle eye of a delighted owner, the Queen’s successful campaigner Barber’s Shop, ridden by Katie Jerram, won the retraining of racehorses class having finished second in the ladies hunters on the first day.
Newmarket-based Simon Charlesworth landed the cob and hack titles for the second year running, the former with last year’s victor Fait Acobbli and the hack championship with the exciting novice Mountstephen Showman.
Robert Walker, of Tarporley, Cheshire, continued his winning run to score two more victories when the cobs Randlestown Rolex and Starry Night headed their class to add to his three wins on the first day.
On Thursday, for the second year running, Colchester-based breeder Lisha Leeman landed the in-hand coloured championship. Last year Kellythorpes Master Key took the hotly-contested title and this year’s star, also a two-year-old, was Kellythorpes Kinky Boots. The Showing section’s furthest-travelled competitor, John O’Groats-based Russell Skelton took reserve with his two-year-old, Freckleton Unbelievable.
In the working hunter ring, Oxfordshire-based Libby Cooke took the overall title for the second year running with Douglas Reid-Scott’s victorious heavyweight, Harley Foxtrot.