Tradition met modernity at the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show during the weeklong affair from June 13-17th. Held at the historical Bolesworth Estate in rural Cheshire, England, the event attracted riders and visitors from around the world.
The pristine estate was bought by the Barbour family in 1856 and includes the picturesque Bolesworth Castle, which was the perfect backdrop for riders from all three Olympic disciplines: dressage, eventing, and show jumping. The CDI3* and CSI4* event also featured Masterclass sessions from British Olympians, William and Pippa Funnell, as well as dressage icon Carl Hester. For spectators craving a bit more adrenaline, Bolesworth offered the Eventing Grand Prix. But what about a bit of refinement, you say? Spectators could flock to the VIP marquee and the Bolesworth Elite Auction to get their sophistication on.
As a rider, it’s a treat to gallop across the manicured Bolesworth Estate, but attending as a spectator is just as rewarding. The five-day event combining top riders from around the world with shopping, family fun, and great music is the perfect kickoff to the summer season. Even if you’re just there to watch a few classes and take in the sights, Bolesworth truly is a British equestrian experience unlike any other.
1. Charlotte Dujardin Cleans Up (Again…)
Although it’s a known fact now, Charlotte Dujardin further proved that she isn’t a one-hit wonder with now-retired double-Olympic champion mount, Valegro. Charlotte rode her exciting young string of horses to six victories over the weekend - yes, six. We are not worthy, Charlotte (cue bowing down in reverence). Key performances include Charlotte’s win aboard the 9-year-old mare, Mount St. John Freestyle in the Grand Prix Special on Thursday. It was the pair’s debut in the event which also included an impressive score of 80.362%.
"I am really, really happy,” says Charlotte following her win in the Grand Prix Special. “That was her first ever grand prix special, and for a nine-year-old, I am just blown away by her. She gives so much, and nothing bothers her.”
Not to be outdone, another one of Charlotte’s future stars, 8-year-old Florentina, made a splash by winning Tuesday’s Prix St. George’s and the Intermediate Freestyle to music on Wednesday.
Photo by Ben Clark
2. Eventers and Show Jumpers - Unite!
If one thing can be learned from this years Bolesworth Horse Show, it’s that two is better than one. Triple-Olympic gold medalist eventer, Andrew Hoy, paired up with show jumper, Beth Vernon, to dominate the thrilling Bolesworth International Eventing Grand Prix. Although only meeting for the first time a few hours before the class, the team proved to be a solid partnership as they sped through the timers ahead of the runner-up team of Jamie Wingrove and Chris Burton.
Another fan-favorite class was the Mini Major, which paired adult showjumpers with young pony riders for a costume dress-up and relay competition. Using their superpowers as Super Woman and Wonder Woman, Laura Renwick and Scarlett Lomax-Cox flew to victory just three-hundredths of a second ahead of Chloe Aston and Noora Von Bulow.
Photo by Ben Clark
3. The Luck of the Irish
A strong Irish contingent of riders proved the saying, “the luck of the Irish,” to be true as they sped to victory in multiple events. Paul Kennedy kicked off the streak with a win in Friday’s 1.50m 4* competition aboard his home-bred, Cartown Danger Mouse (great name, by the way). The duo narrowly edged out fellow Irishman, Shane Breen, who took home second-place just six-hundredths of a second behind.
Shane Breen came in full force Friday night to win the memorable Equerry Bolesworth International Puissance - and let's be honest here, who doesn't love a good puissance? Over five rounds of increasing height and difficulty, Shane and 17-year-old Acorad 3, were flawless to win the puissance at an impressive 2.20 meters (7ft 3in.), a Bolesworth record. Shane was joined in the final round by fellow Irishmen—Anthony Condon, Michael Pender, Richard Howley, and Paul Kennedy.
"He has never knocked a puissance wall down, and I am delighted to have won it. It was fantastic,” says Puissance winner Shane Breen. “He has extraordinary scope, a super brain and is beautiful to ride. He just loves jumping."
To wrap-up the Irish winning streak, Paul Kennedy built upon his big win on Friday night to win Sunday’s feature class, the £30,000 Equerry Grand Prix. Once again aboard Cartown Danger Mouse, Paul said, "It is certainly a day I will never forget. This win has to be right up there at the top in terms of my career.”
Photo courtesy of Bolesworth Horse Show
4. The British Home Field Advantage
On top of Charlotte Dujardin’s impressive results in the dressage menage, the rest of British riders represented the Union Jack well at Bolesworth. Up-and-coming showjumper, Matthew Sampson, made a blistering start to the opening day of CSI4* competition on Thursday to win the two-phase 1.45m, followed by a win with teammate Reece Oliver in the Bentley Manchester Ride and Drive Race. After a speedy jumping track against the clock, Matthew leaped into the back seat of a Bentley Bentayga, driven by Reece through a coned course to clinch the win.
In the CSI2* event, Graham Lovegrove triumphed over 70 starters in Friday’s feature class, the two-phase 1.45m, with Alfie 192. Britain's Paul Barker and Happy Boy won Sunday’s CSI2* 1.45m accumulator class on the maximum score of 65 points to take home the top honors.
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5. Only the Best for the Elite Auction
It was hard to beat the record made at the 2017 Elite Auction when the chestnut colt by Big Star and Tinka’s Serenade, sold for an impressive £92,000. This year's auction presented seventeen of the world’s best foals and yearlings by elite stallions including Big Star, Cornet Obolensky, Casall, and Emerald out of world-class black type dam lines. The top lot was Up in the Air Z - the grey filly out of Untouchable and Telysette which went for £24,500.
"We had some of the very best bloodlines across the world represented, and I was delighted with the quality of the foals and yearlings in the Elite Auction,” said Bolesworth International President Nina Barbour. “It was a wonderful evening with keen interest from some of the leading names and stables looking for future stars and talent."
Feature photo courtesy of Bolesworth Horse Show.