The NAF Five Star Hartpury Festival of Dressage returned with a bang ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. Several Olympic and Paralympic riders were in action, showcasing their equine stars of the future during an action-packed week.
A limited number of spectators also returned to Hartpury and the action was enjoyed by large numbers around the world thanks to Horse & Country TV’s live stream coverage.
Richard Davison and his home-bred Bubblingh stormed to victory during Saturday’s gala performance, posting a score of 78.04% to top the NAF Five Star Superflex FEI CDI Grand Prix Freestyle leaderboard by an impressive 6%. The combination’s popular Gangsta’s Paradise routine was the final performance of the evening.
Speaking after his performance, Richard acknowledged his far-from-traditional musical choice.
“It’s probably getting to the stage where I need to change my freestyle, but I’ll probably stick to similar music - I like it, although I appreciate it is slightly ironic at my age (65),” he said.
The pair won the grand prix freestyle at Hartpury’s CDI in both 2017 and 2018 and have been runner up on a further two occasions making festival history. Despite the combination not having ridden a music test since 2019, judge Stephen Clarke awarded an overall mark of nine for the piaffes.
Richard and Bubblingh enjoyed a successful week overall, also finishing second in Friday’s grand prix behind Fiona Bigwood and Hawtins Delicato.
Discussing his plans for the rest of the year, Richard hinted at a trip to “Aachen in September would be nice, and maybe some World Cup shows.”
Earlier in the evening, Hartpury favourite Charlotte Dujardin enjoyed victory in the Elite Stallions Prix St Georges Championship with an impressive 76.02%. Charlotte once again held an impressive book of records this week, with Florentina IV looking particularly eye-catching in her second grand prix start.
Dujardin will be targeting a third consecutive Olympic individual title and has the chance to make history as the first-ever British woman to do so. She would also become only the second rider after Holland’s Anky van Grunsven to win individual dressage gold at three successive Olympics. Her Olympic mount, Gio, is a former winner at the NAF Five Star Hartpury Festival of Dressage and was this year’s programme cover star.
Paralympic talent also painted a promising picture for Team GB with stars including Lee Pearson, Nicky Greenhill, Sophie Wells, Sophie Christiansen and Natasha Baker all putting in impressive performances under the watchful eye of team selectors. Lee Pearson’s Breezer, a horse with a strong record at Hartpury, looked a picture under the Gloucestershire sunshine to score 75.182% as part of the individual CPEDI3*.
Fiona Bigwood enjoyed a thrilling success in the Hazlewoods-sponsored grand prix on Friday, onboard her own Hawtins Delicato. Fiona, who won team silver for Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics, bought the Diamond Hit 13-year-old from Carl Hester in 2020.
This result was their first international grand prix victory with an impressive score of 74.09%.
Speaking after her test, Fiona said “I am eventually finding the buttons on this horse. He is so fun to ride but Carl always used to make it look so easy, and I’m just trying to work things out. I feel like I’ve turned a corner now.
“The last centre line was a real highlight, I trusted him and off he went. He wants to do it, he’s just so much fun to ride.”
Richard Davison and the 15-year old Bubblingh led the 27-strong field for most of the class, with a mark of 71.69%. Becky Moody and Jo Cooper’s 11-year-old mare Famke PF finished in third place with a score of 71%.
Anyone who missed the action from this year’s NAF Five Star Hartpury Festival of Dressage can watch on-demand via Horse & Country TV’s H&C+ service.
Click here to see the full results from this year’s festival. The showjumping fraternity will descend on Hartpury for the NAF Five Star Hartpury Showjumping Spectacular from Thursday 22 - Sunday 25 July.