BRITAIN’S latest Golden Girl of dressage Charlotte Dujardin beat off all rivals last weekend to win the Medium Open Championship class at Hartpury College by four per cent on mentor Carl Hester’s horse Don Archie.

Dujardin and her fellow ‘Carlie’s Angels’ from Oakelbrook Mill, Newent travelled to nearby Hartpury to compete in the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championship. Charlotte was accompanied by fellow Hester compatriots Katie Bailey and Jo Hamilton.

Hamilton, who has trained with Hester for 15 years, took an early lead with Vivaldi V, posting an impressive 70.35% to take the lead; Bailey then came in with 68.25%.

Carl’s top pupil Dujardin then rode to victory with a classy 74.12%.

Dujardin was thrilled with the performance. “I’m really pleased with him today,” she said. “He’s grown up so much over the last year and matured a lot. I’m also thrilled with how he dealt with the atmosphere in the arena.

“He didn’t do much last year as I was concentrating on Valegro but he’s really coming on and we’ll continue at small tour level this year and aim to go Grand Prix early in 2013.”

This success is a boost for Carl, who recently had to withdraw his top horse Uthopia from the upcoming Hagen CDI 4* competition in Germany after the 11-year-old stallion pulled off a shoe when out grazing in a field.

Hester will now have to work with the selectors to re-jig Uthopia’s competition schedule ahead of the Olympics.

The remaining members of the British contingent, including Ampney St Peter’s Laura Bechtolsheimer (Mistral Hojris and Andretti H), Chipping Norton’s Emile Faurie (Elmgardens Marquis), Henriette Andersen (Louis D’or), Judy Harvey (Fitzcarraldo) and Dujardin (Valegro) compete in Hagen from tomorrow (Friday).

THE 2012 Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials are only a week away, and the preparations are at full steam to ensure an action-packed weekend for both riders and spectators.

Great excitement has been added this year by the announcement that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge will attend and present prizes on the final day (May 7) after watching the show jumping test.

This year’s cross country course has seen major alterations with hardly a fence remaining unchanged. Hugh Thomas’ new course includes the traditional start inside the main arena, this time with two fences before the tricky HorseQuest Quarry, which has caught out many frisky fast-starters over the years.

Running the opposite way to last year, the course includes some of the more complex combinations early on, including Huntsman’s Close, which has also undergone a makeover.

A large oxer marks the entrance to the close and horses will require a quick check before considering their options as the combination comes after a lengthy gallop from the Quarry. The oxer is straightforward enough, but the subsequent two bounce hedges will require a lot of control.

The lighting in the copse asks further questions of the horse as the trees create spooky shadows which can distract them from the job in hand.

Thomas has revamped many of the fences to include the obligatory large drops, including that of the crowd favourite, The Lake.

The second water combination, The Colt Pond, also features a drop into the water, but now includes a wide, solid spread followed quickly by a brush screen before the drop.

This year’s Shogun Hollow has one direct route and no alternatives so all riders will require a great deal of impulsion over the big coffin for the drop and a good drive up the next bank to make the box spread on the other side.

The course has a number of easier fences for a breather but still asks many four-star questions of the horses and their riders.