It was a night to remember at the Gala Evening event, with Richard Davison leading the way in the feature class of the night and Charlotte Dujardin showcasing past and future stars.
In a hotly contested last class of the day – the Superflex FEI Grand Prix Freestyle – Richard Davison took the honours aboard the striking bay gelding Bubblingh. The British pair lit up the Hartpury Arena with a technical floorplan and toe-tapping music. It included an instantly recognisable excerpt from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and earned them a total score of 76.775%.
Just 0.125% behind, in second place, was Davison’s fellow British rider Gareth Hughes riding Anne Keen’s gelding Don Carissimo. An accomplished test from Canadian Diane Creech put her into third place with Chrevis Christo, only a few marks behind on 75.150%.
The other major class of the evening was the Elite Stallions British Young Horse Championshp, for which seven qualifying combinations came forward. Hartpury student Lucy Pincus had finished third in the qualifying class but when her horse, Sheepcote Suncrest, took an unfortunate aversion to a table she lost valuable marks, leading to an eventual seventh place finish on 68.07%.
Charlotte Dujardin added to her impressive tally of wins at this year’s Festival of Dressage by taking first place with eight-year-old bay mare Mount St John Freestyle, achieving a stunning score of 82.19%. She also took second place with her own and Sandra Biddlecombe’s En Vogue, scoring 72.98%. Daniel Greenwood rounded off the placings in third with Lukien Von Tespe after earning 69.78% from the judges.
Speaking to judge Isobel Wessels immediately after her test, Charlotte said: “She [Mount St John Freestyle] has a heart of gold, she is unbelievable, no matter what atmosphere she is in and isn’t afraid of anything – nothing bothers her.
“Next year I really hope to have her for the World Equestrian Games. She is only eight but she just shows such huge talent. I feel very lucky to have a horse like this to follow on from what I had with Valegro … It’s all so natural for her, she’s a really special horse.”
Alongside the top-level competition, the Hartpury crowd were treated to two fantastic dressage demonstrations. The first came from popular pair Charlie and Abi Hutton who returned for the third year running in this time slot. Also making a third appearance was Charlie’s Premier League ride Hawtins Rossana; the chestnut mare, known as ‘Rosie’, is becoming a familiar feature at the Gala Evening.
The second demonstration of the evening featured a very special appearance from a superstar horse who needs no introduction, the incomparable Valegro. Charlotte Dujardin treated the packed stands to a display of what makes ‘Blueberry’ (Valegro’s stable name) so unique, accompanied by narration from world-renowned British judge Stephen Clarke. The record-breaking pair seemed completely at home in their local venue and Valegro evidently enjoyed the attention, lapping up the applause as they danced out to Tina Turner’s Simply The Best.
Phillip Cheetham, Hartpury Equine Director, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Charlotte and Valegro back to the Hartpury Arena. We are incredibly grateful to Charlotte and Carl [Hester] for allowing this wonderful horse to come and visit his adoring fans.”