Gareth and the 16-year-old mare Classic Briolinca, who he co-owns with his wife Rebecca, daughter Ruby and Julia Hornig, were the second British pair to compete, following Richard Davison’s earlier performance with Bubblingh.
Gareth’s test was a delight to watch, with the pirouettes a real highlight scoring four nines. However the pair lost marks in the final halt when Classic Briolinca became unsettled as the enthusiastic crowd clapped them down the centre line, resulting in threes and fives for the last movement. Despite this, their score was enough to put them into second place at the time – with competition still to come from the Netherlands and Denmark on the final session of the first day of the grand prix.
“She was good wasn’t she?,” said a delighted Gareth following his test.
“She was good in the working in and she got a little tense going into the arena and I could feel it, she sort of bubbled away. A couple of years ago that would have worked against us, but she really tried to hold it together I think.
“All the hard stuff she did so well – it’s a pity about the easy things, the last halt with everybody clapping. The judge at C just shook his head, there’s nothing you can do. But what do I say about her? She’s amazing.”
Gareth said the experienced mare knows exactly what she’s doing in the grand prix.
“When you do the half pass, piaffe and passage lines, down the centre lines for the pirouettes, she just locks on. I can just sit there and she holds it, it’s lovely,” he said.
“The tempis is like a metronome, so if I have to forgive her for not halting at the end, then I can at least give that to her.”
Gareth was the best performing British rider at the 2019 European Championships with Classic Briolinca.
“I think people didn’t expect her to quite do what she did [at the Europeans]. In 2020 unfortunately with Covid we lost that year, and with a horse this age, it’s not great but it happens,” he said.
“She’s come back here and she’s proved she’s a world-class horse. She’s laid it out again. She’s 16 but she doesn’t have a lot of miles, there is more teams in her.”
Gareth has high hopes for his teammates Charlotte Dujardin and Lottie Fry, who take to the stage tomorrow (7 August).
“Richard went in this morning and did a great job. Our job is to come here, we know what we can get, and we try and lay down those scores,” he said.
“I wanted to come here and thought if I can go mistake free, I can get around that 76%, so I feel like I’ve laid my score down and I’m really proud of that. Charlotte and Lottie are so experienced, they’ll go down and lay down their scores.
“It’s a new team; young horses, young and old riders. It’s wide open, so if those girls go and do their jobs – which they can do in their sleep – us boys have just got to go in on the first day and lay down some good scores, and let the girls come home and take it away for us.”
Under the World Dressage Championships format, the team medals will be decided solely on the results of the grand prix, with the three best scores per team to count. The grand prix will also serve as an individual qualifier through to the grand prix special on Monday, 8 August.
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