Double Olympic dressage Champion, Charlotte Dujardin, produced a profound performance in front of HRH the Princess Royal at Horse of the Year Show on Thursday evening.
Charlotte, riding the shining eight-year-old prospect Mount St John Freestyle, claimed an emphatic victory in the Dressage Future Elite Championship, with Maria Eilberg finishing second aboard Sarotti 57 and multiple British Paralympic medallist Sophie Wells taking third with C Fatal Attraction.
Gloucestershire-based Charlotte, who won Olympic individual gold at London 2012 and in Rio 2016 on the imperious Valegro, has huge hopes for Mount St John Freestyle. Her performance in Birmingham's Genting Arena - one that warranted a score of 84.91% - did not disappoint. Next year's World Equestrian Games in North Carolina are a definite target for the horse, with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics then potentially following.
"I am extremely pleased," said Charlotte, reflecting on her win. "Wherever I put her, she is always the same. She is not afraid of anything. I feel she is so switched on and connected to what I am asking of her, and it just feels so effortless. There are not many shows when horses really get that kind of atmosphere or that exposure in big arenas. So for her to go in there and deliver the goods like she did, I was so proud of her.
"I am so lucky. I have 10 horses that I think are top horses. They are at different levels at the moment, and I am really excited. I am always hungry to win and keep producing those horses. For me, it is about finding that partnership and connection and training them to grand prix level, which to me is as important as winning gold medals. I have always been hungry for it and always wanted it a lot. I am very self-driven and motivated.
"I hope she can be a horse that is very exciting for Tokyo and hopefully get a medal. I think she is hopefully going to medal - I think she is good enough to medal, definitely. Next year is going to be her first year, hopefully, at grand prix, and then I am aiming her at the World Equestrian Games.
"She is just like Valegro. She takes everything in her stride, she is not fazed, she doesn't stress, she doesn't get at all worried about any situation no matter how much pressure you put on her. You can keep asking her questions, and she keeps answering them and keeps trying."