Classic Briolinca retired from international competition

Gareth HUGHES (GBR) & Classic Briolinca - Grand Prix Special - Dressage - FEI World Championships Herning 2022

On 15 May, British team rider Gareth Hughes announced that his multi-medallist Classic Briolinca would be retiring from international competition. The announcement came on Briolinca’s 18th birthday – which was celebrated with a special cake made from some of her favourite foods

Known as ‘Princess’ by those closest to her, including owners Gareth, his wife Rebecca, daughter Ruby and long-time friend Julia Hornig, Briolinca joined Gareth’s yard in Warwickshire as a three-year-old when Rebecca spotted her star credentials while on a horse-buying trip in the Netherlands. The pair began their competitive career together in 2013, before riding their first international Grand Prix – at Hartpury CDI3* – in 2015. Briolinca soon became known for her party piece moves of piaffe/passage and canter pirouettes, which could always be relied upon to bring in the marks from the judges.

If you’re lucky in your career, you get to compete at the very top level and horses like Briolinca make it happen,”

said Gareth.

She’s special, quirky, and not straightforward, but immensely talented, and she always tries her heart out. In our last few tests, she gave me 200% again and again, and I’m grateful to her for giving me everything.

“What makes a Grand Prix horse? A horse that lets you train it to Grand Prix. What makes a good Grand Prix horse? A horse with heart.”

A statement from Gareth Hughes at the FEI Dressage World Championship in Herning

Briolinca’s owner, Julia Hornig, has been a key part of her story from when the mare arrived at Gareth’s yard and has always supported her on the world stage.


It has been an incredible journey owning Classic Briolinca,” said Julia. “A journey where decision-making and persistence produced the ultimate victory of team gold. I owe a huge thanks to Rebecca for choosing a horse she knew would go the whole way – and being amazing enough to hand the reins over to Gareth at the right time. Gareth’s relationship with Briolinca has so obviously been one of love – how could they go all the way without that? She’s our heart horse”

Briolinca never travelled anywhere without Gareth’s head groom, Steph Sharples. Steph adored her charge and made sure she never wanted for anything.

Ultimately, she’s my best friend,”

explained Steph.

She’s given me so many happy memories and taken me to some amazing venues and shows. The feeling of seeing her and Gareth in the arena, do what they do best so effortlessly and harmoniously, will never leave me.

“She’s definitely keener on people than other horses, and loves fuss and attention – scratches, cuddles, anything. She loves her treats – spearmint Polos and bananas are her favourite – and watching her eat sweets is hilarious because she curls her tongue around them and sucks on them for about 10 minutes.”

British Equestrian and British Dressage send heartwarming thanks to Briolinca for everything she has given to championship efforts and the sport of dressage during her career and wish her a long, happy retirement.

You can read the full story of Classic Briolinca’s success in the upcoming issue of Everything Horse Magazine.

Featured image: Gareth HUGHES (GBR) & Classic Briolinca – Grand Prix Special – Dressage – FEI World Championships Herning 2022. Image credit British Equestrian / Jon Stroud

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