LeMieux National Dressage Championships Concludes for Another Year

Charlotte Dujardin riding Mount St John VIP. Image credit Kevin Sparrow Photography
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LeMieux National Dressage Championships Concludes for Another Year

Held at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire 15 – 18 September 2016, the LeMieux National Dressage Championships is the ultimate competition in domestic dressage. With almost 400 tests ridden over four days of competition, 24 titles are given across levels from Preliminary to Grand Prix, including the overall LeMieux National Champion.

This year competitors and spectators were able to see Dujadin, following her Rio success, ride fresh talent and witness the joy of some unexpected wins …

Olympic gold medallist dominates Championships

Fresh from Rio, Olympic gold and silver medallist, Charlotte Dujardin claimed a whopping six titles at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.

Aboard Carl Hester and Ann Cory’s eight-year-old British-bred Diamond Hit gelding, Hawtins Delicato, the 31-year-old stormed to victory in the Fairfax Saddles Prix St Georges Gold Championship, a mega hot class that was jam-packed with top riders and talented horses, on a fabulous score of 75.66% – the exact same score achieved by the duo at Hartpury Premier League in the horse’s first ever PSG.

Charlotte Dujardin on board Hawtins Delicato. Image credit Kevin Sparrow Photography
Charlotte Dujardin on board Hawtins Delicato. Image credit Kevin Sparrow Photography

“I’m so thrilled!” announced an exhilarated Charlotte after an energetic lap of honour “I’ve only competed him three times as Amy Woodhead usually rides him, so for me to come here and get that score and that test out of him was just amazing.”

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On the second day of the competition, the Dodson & Horrell Novice Gold was filled with quality as all bar four of the 32 starters broke the 67% barrier. Charlotte Dujardin added to her tally with the stunning Mount St John VIP, owned by the Mount St John stud.

Charlotte Dujardin riding Mount St John VIP. Image credit Kevin Sparrow Photography
Charlotte Dujardin riding Mount St John VIP. Image credit Kevin Sparrow Photography

The five-year-old mare kept her focus despite being caught in the torrential downpours of Friday and a score of 76.88% left the pair a clear three percent ahead of the field.

“I rode her as a three-year-old in Germany and fell in love with her,” revealed Charlotte, who subsequently started producing the daughter of Donnerhall last year. “She didn’t compete as a four-year-old, but she’s amazing and exactly my type of horse; she’s elastic, energetic and has an incredible work ethic.”

The new competition structure now allows top riders to contest the Novice Championships and Charlotte was one of several stars taking advantage of this. “It’s fantastic to have something like this to aim for with the young horses; it’s such good experience for them,” she said. In fact, the last time Charlotte contested a championship at this level was in 2007, when she won the Novice Open title at Stoneleigh on Valegro, the horse that ended up taking her to the Olympics.

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Her third title came in the TopSpec Medium Gold Championship on Wendy and Paul Dockley and her own Florentina VI. The flamboyant dapple grey daughter of Vivaldi produced some breath-taking work, belying her six years to score 75.42%.

Florentina, who qualified at the Mount Ballan Summer Regional Championships, claimed the Shearwater Five-Year-Old Championship here last year and has since won every Medium class contested, even breaking the 80% barrier. The exquisite mare has caught the eye of many and looks to be an exciting prospect for the future. Charlotte later revealed that Florentina has an embryo transfer foal on the way by Negro.

Achieving the highest score of the four-day competition and her fourth title of the Championships, Charlotte and Mount St John Freestyle reigned supreme in yesterday’s Equine Construction Advanced Medium.

Charlotte and the Mount St John Stud-owned seven-year-old daughter of Fidermark scored an incredible 78.82%, more than six percent ahead of the rest of the field in a super-hot Championship final where nine competitors breached the 70% barrier. Freestyle is a cracker – the complete package – and great asset to Charlotte’s arsenal of horsepower.

“She has a complete heart of gold,” said Charlotte of Freestyle. “She always tries her hardest and she finds the work so easy.”

The beautiful bay mare moved through each element of the test with great poise and effortless expression. Expertly ridden by Charlotte, the high quality work raked in the marks from five judges.

Charlotte and Brioso II. Image credit Kevin Sparrow Photography
Charlotte and Brioso II. Image credit Kevin Sparrow Photography

Aboard Carl Hester’s six-year-old mare, Brioso II (Benetton Dream x Dimaggio), Charlotte took an early lead in the Childéric Saddles Elementary Gold Championship with her impressive score of 75.88%. Unable to topple the eventual champion but producing a brilliant test to score 73.47%, second place went to Paul Hayler with the six-year-old Vivaldi-sired gelding, FJ Veyron – owned by Fiona James.

It’s exciting for Charlotte and British dressage that she has such a wealth of young horsepower waiting in the wings. “After the announcement of Valegro’s retirement, people think that’s it for me but I’m very lucky to have fantastic owners behind me and these talented young horses to compete.”

Last night, Charlotte headed off to New York with Valegro to perform a freestyle demo at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show. She told British Dressage yesterday: “I go to the airport this evening and fly to New York in the morning. Valegro is already on his way. It’s in Central Park so I’m really excited. Everyone loves to see Valegro and I’m always amazed at the emotion he creates in people. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Dressage trainer celebrates twice at National Championships

Dorset’s Charlie Sawyer celebrated twice at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships, winning both the Childéric Saddles Elementary Silver and Dodson & Horrell Novice Silver Championships.

In a hard-fought Childéric Saddles Elementary Silver Championship, 25-year-old Charlie and the giant 17.3hh Contrendro son, Chico Too, secured top spot with a score of 73.13%.

The first seven combinations all broke the 70% barrier, but Charlie and the 12-year-old gelding got the nod with an expressive, accurate performance that earned them top marks across the board. This is a first national title for the Dorset-based rider, who trains with Carl Hester and is also a UKCC Accredited British Dressage Coach.

“I’m absolutely over the moon,” smiled Charlie following the prize-giving. “I came here to be happy with a top ten finish so to achieve this is amazing!” Their win is all the more remarkable as ‘Chico’, who is owned by Charlie’s mum, Sarah, was forced to undergo a two and a half year rehabilitation following kissing spine and arthritis of the facet joints. Before the diagnosis, Charlie knew something wasn’t right as “he always gives 100% – he’s never idle”. His rehabilitation is ongoing but Charlie said: “We’re getting there. He seems very happy and is loving what he’s doing.”

“Days like this make you realise why we do it. It’s not always easy as there are so many ups and downs with horses but even on bad days I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Behind every great rider there’s a great team, and this is oh-so-true for Charlie as he’s quick to credit his family for all their support. Whilst mum Sarah is here at Stoneleigh, his dad and his girlfriend Alex, who travels here tomorrow, are at home looking after the horses. “Alex and Dad know how we do things on the yard so I don’t have to worry about a thing,” he said.

Moving onto the Dodson & Horrell Novice Silver Championship, the pair’s confident and expressive performance was awarded 77.37%, one of the highest scores of the Championships.

“I never expected to do this. For him to win two – I don’t know how to explain it – It’s unbelievable!” said Charlie, clearly delighted. “I knew in the test that it was good and was smiling coming down the last centre line. Everything happened – it felt a really good, solid test.”

Chico was undoubtedly at home in the arena and was in no way fazed by the blustery conditions at the Stoneleigh venue, improving even further on his super performance the previous day. “He’s always better on the second day, once he’s had a chance to familiarise himself. He doesn’t show nervousness by spooking, he just goes within himself a bit. He always allows me to put my leg on.

“He’s one in a million with his attitude,” said Charlie fondly. “He’s very responsive for a big, solid horse and stays nicely sensitive. Today he felt together and we were able to give a bit more as he was rounder, more supple, and more confident

Derbyshire-based rider claims first national dressage title

Allison Croft was surprised and delighted to find herself at the top of the leader board in the BackinAction Preliminary Championship at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships with her own five-year-old gelding, Tantoni Dallaglio.

“I can’t stop shaking; it’s unbelievable,” said Derbyshire-based Allison, who only took up dressage 12 months ago after suffering an accident while show jumping. “I’m so glad I made the switch; I’m having such a brilliant time.”

A score of 74.58% left Allison and the British-bred son of Danone II more than one percent ahead of the rest of the field.

“He’s so laid back; he’s got an old head on young shoulders,” continued Allison, who is based in Derbyshire with her trainer, Tim Heappey. “He only started competing in March and Tim has been riding him in five-year-old Young Horse classes and doing very well. It’s my first nationals and I was thrilled to just get here, let alone win.”

Allison works for a care home company in operational management but has designs on climbing the dressage ladder.

“I’d love to keep going up the levels and see how far we can get,” she said.

 

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Author: Suzanne Ashton Founder, Everything Horse email: sashton@everythinghorseuk.co.uk

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