Bigwood Scores First International Victory on Hawtins Delicato at 2021 CDI Hartpury

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 22:25
2021 CDI Hartpury
Fiona Bigwood and Hawtin's Delicato at the 2021 CDI Hartpury :: Photo © Kevin Sparrow

Though the grandstand seating on the pleasant grass bank at Hartpury was quieter than usual – perhaps due to the recent delay in the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in England – the Gloucestershire venue benefit from sunshine and pleasant temperatures for the CDI Grand Prix class on the 9 July 2021.

Brexit travel complications saw the field of twenty-seven riders largely sporting the union jack, with a few UK based international riders also making the most of the chance to compete in front of a modest – but in “Covid era”, significant! – crowd.

Eduard De Wolff Van Westerrode (E), Susanne Baarup (H), Isobel Wessels (C), Michael Osinski (M) and Nick Burton (B) presided over the class and were largely in agreement on the placings of the combinations.

Bigwood in the Winner's Circle

Fiona Bigwood led the class on the seasoned 13-year-old Hawtins Delicato (by Diamond Hit x Regazzoni). The partnership made their competition debut only three months ago, but at Hartpury Bigwood and the British-bred bay gelding appeared very in tune with one another. The trot work was consistently expressive, with a good degree of cadence throughout. The first piaffe was a little hesitant for a moment; the second was better and the passage-piaffe tour on the final centreline was straight and active. The extended walk was a little guarded and some tension crept into the collected walk (5-7) but the canter tour was very fluent, with the straight and expressive tempi changes a particular highlight. Bigwood scored a convincing 74.087% (the lowest from De Wolff – 71.413 and the highest from Wessels – 75.761) to win by a fair margin.

The second to start, Richard Davison, held the lead for a long while after producing an expressive test that had only a few bobbles affecting the score. G. Meyer and Davison’s homebred 15-year-old Bubblingh (by Lingh x Picandt) boasts a very elegant frame and has abundant impulsion. The trot tour was very convincing, the passage expressive; the tall bay gelding has a natural tendency to sit in the piaffe but at moments he became almost over-collected and lost the rhythm. There was a late change in the two tempi line and some mouth tension in the passage on the final centre line, but the test was presented with much precision and there was a pleasingly light contact with the bridle throughout. The judges rewarded the test with 71.696 (De Wolff 70.000%, Wessels, 74.022%).

Top Four

Becky Moody and Jo Cooper’s 11-year-old Famke PF (by Houston x Cabochon) showed very supple trot half passes and a composed piaffe-passage tour, with excellent straightness in the piaffe. The extended walk was active but could have shown some more relaxation and elasticity through the back, the collected walk was clear and the transition to passage obedient. The canter tour was ridden with a lot of precision and polish; at times the sympathetic mare got a little croup high and unbalanced but she remained active and attentive. Although Famke was one of the younger horses in the class, she looked confident at this level and convinced the judges too: 71.000% (Baarup 68.696, Wessels 71.717) was good enough to take third place, with the promise of more to come in the future.

Louise Bell produced perhaps one of the most consistent tests of the day, with her former Working Hunter champion Into The Blue (by Ublesco x Calvaro F.C.) on her aids throughout and the partnership working to achieve every mark. The roan gelding was lacking a little suppleness through the body at times but the piaffe-passage tour was rhythmical, the changes very expressive and Bell rode three balanced, square halts. Their score of 69.370% (De Wolff 68.261, Wessels 71.087) was well earned.

Breaking British Domination

Breaking the British domination was Finnish Mikaela Soratie, who finished equal fourth with Louise Bell. Katja Kuistila’s 12-year-old gelding Hot Casanova (by Blue Hors Hotline) was relaxed and very willing to please his rider, and the test could have easily broken the 70-barrier were it not for an unfortunate mistake in the one-time changes. The extended walk had good purpose, the transitions throughout the test were obedient and Soratie and the elegant bay showed the best rein-back of the whole class. A balanced final halt cemented their score of 69.370 (Osinski 68.370, Burton 70.217).

Nicola Buchanan earned sixth place with her own British bred 12-year-old Half Moon Dark Magic (by Dimaggio). The elegant partnership presented a smooth test with very few errors; the expressive tempi changes were a highlight and though for a moment in the final passage the collection and rhythm were lost, the end halt was very square. They scored 68.717 (De Wolff 67.609, Wessels 69.783).

Top Eight

Richard Davison on Bubblingh
Slotting in seventh, Kate Cowell showcased a lovely partnership with C. Richards’ 15-year-old Samba Dancer. Throughout nearly the entire test the petite chestnut was beautifully on his rider’s aids, with neat piaffe and passage, expressive changes and well executed pirouettes. Unfortunately, there was a spook at the end of the last extended trot which caused the gelding to break into canter and then severely affected the marks for the final centre line as he scooted forwards several times. They finished on 68.544 (De Wolff 66.848, Baarup 70.326) and would have likely been into the 70s save for those expensive last moments: lots more left in the tank.

Completing the top eight was Alice Oppenheimer with Caroline Dibden’s charming dun gelding, Headmore Diffinity (Don Primero x World Cup). The 11-year-old stood out for both his unusual coat colour and his willingness: he appeared to try his very best for Oppenheimer, who nurtured him through the test and supported him in the moments where he appeared a little green. The extended trot had lovely shoulder freedom but could have come more from behind, and though the passage-piaffe tour does not quite yet have the balance and scope of some of the more confirmed horses, Diffinity showed a natural aptitude for taking the weight behind and forming a classical “V” in the piaffe. The canter was consistent and the final halt very neat. Their solid score of 68.283 (Osinski 67.065, Burton 70.543) gestured to easy 70s to be gained in the future, once Diffinity develops a little more strength.


Several combinations were haunted by ghosts at the A end of the atmospheric Hartpury arena, with Mount St John Kom Fairy Tale taking a strong exception to the top corner during the piaffe, before being expertly recovered by Amy Woodhead.

Alexander Harrison’s Diamond Hit gelding Diamond Hill became rather tense at this end too, but then was able to show excellent relaxation and swing in his extended walk. Though shows are now getting back on track it has still been a rather disrupted year and this seemed to have affected even some of the more established combinations – Thomas Goode and Dior’s score was unfortunately curbed by several mistakes but the compact and powerful chestnut stallion, whose summer coat is almost golden, still made lovely watching in the afternoon sun.

- by Rebecca Bell for Eurodressage - Photos © Kevin Sparrow

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