Gareth Hughes' British Team Horse Briolinca Retired from Sport

Fri, 05/17/2024 - 08:13
Great Britain
Gareth Hughes and Briolinca at the 2018 CDIO Compiegne :: Photo © Astrid Appels

Gareth Hughes' triple British team horse Briolinca has been retired from competition sport. 

Briolinca is an 18-year old Dutch warmblood mare by Trento B out of Trolinca (by Royal Dance x D-Day). She is bred by the Van der Steen brothers in The Netherlands.

Classic Briolinca

Purchased by the Hughes' couple in partnership with business associate and friend Julia Hornig, Briolinca got scouted in The Netherlands as a 3-year old.

She was first ridden by Rebecca as a youngster, before Gareth took over.  Hughes made his international Grand Prix show debut on Briolinca in 2015 at the CDI Hartpury, where they immediately posted a 71.300%. 

The bright bay mare was competed sparingly throughout her years at top level. After Hartpury they also showed at the CDI Perl, but in 2016 only did Roosendaal. They did not pass the vet check at the 2016 CDIO Rotterdam and were out for British Olympic team selection.  In 2017 they returned to the arena at the CDIO Compiègne, their first and only international of the year.

At the 2019 European Championships
In 2018 the wonderful mare finally found her stride and produced solid scores in the seventy range at Keysoe, Compiegne and Bolesworth. They were short-listed for Team GB for the 2018 World Equestrian Games, but not picked. Hughes, however, did win the 2018 British Grand Prix Champion's title in September that year. 

British Team Horse, On and Off

2019 and 2022 were Briolinca's best show seasons.

After posting a whopping 77.170% in the Special at the 2019 CDIO Compiègne, they finally claimed a spot on the British team for the European Championships in Rotterdam, where they exceeded all expectations and became Britain's best scoring pair with an 80.125 and 10th place in the Kur to Music Finals after finished 7th in the Special on 78.085%. 

In 2020 did only one CDI in Keysoe (in October) and was not in the race for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics due to fitness issues.

In 2022 they made a solid international come back at the 2022 CDIO Compiegne and did only one more CDI in Wellington Heckfield to meet the minimum requirement to clinch their spot again on the British team for the 2022 World Championships in Herning, where they got team silver and finished 5th in the Kur to Music. They ended the year with a second place in the World Cup qualifier in London.

At the 2022 World Championships
Their last season together was in 2023 when Briolinca again did only two shows (Windsor, Wellington) to reclaim her spot on the British team for the 2023 European Championships in Riesenbeck, where she got team gold and individually were 14th in the Special (74.651%) not making it into the kur this time as fourth scoring British pair.


Briolinca's absence from the show ring since the 2023 European Championships in Riesenbeck made it seem unlikely that Hughes would be campaigning her for a British Olympic team spot.

After not having shown at any 2024 CDI's in Great Britain (Hickstead, Windsor, Addington) or on the European mainland, time was running out for Briolinca to prove form and fitness in front of the selectors.

A week ago Eurodressage inquired if Briolinca was heading to Hickstead even though her FEI passport had not been activated for 2024. 

"She’s in full work and well, we are actually just now in the middle of discussing what to do next with her," Rebecca Hughes told Eurodressage. Six days later the official announcement of her retirement was made. 

"It hasn’t been an easy decision especially as it’s an Olympic year, but we wanted to do the best by our amazing mare and retire her at the top of the sport. She has been one of the top horses in International sport for the last 5 years," the Hughes family posted.

Words of Thanks

Team Gold at 2023 European Championships
"We have so many people to thank for everything they have done over the years, but a special thank you goes out to our friend and amazing owner Julia Hornig who has been nothing but incredibly supportive since we found Briolinca as a 3yr old, a very special thankyou to Steph Sharples who has given her life to ourselves and Briolinca throughout her career."

Rebecca continued, "The biggest thank you goes to Briolinca, our one in a million heart horse. She retires healthy, happy and will now be a great teacher for many years to come."

Photos © Astrid Appels

Related Links
Eurodressage Photo Database: Briolinca
Solid Come Back for Hughes and Briolinca on Rainy Day One of 2022 CDIO Compiegne
Hughes' 2019 British EC Team Ride Briolinca Withdrawn from Olympic Contention