Morgan Barbançon Plays It Smart With Habana Libre After SOS Call To Gareth Hughes

Saturday, March 18, 2023
Posted by Alice Collins for Wellington International


Cover - Morgan Barbançon & Habana Libre, winners of the Wellington Equestrian Realty CDI5 Grand Prix Special. Photo © SusanJStickle.com_.jpg

In the Wellington Equestrian Realty CDI5* Grand Prix Special, Morgan Barbançon credited her victory to a tactical ride and an SOS call to her trainer in England, Gareth Hughes.  Barbançon — who formerly rode for Spain before switching nationalities to represent France — returned to winning ways with Habana Libre A after a sub-par performance in the qualifying Grand Prix, where they finished third.

Morgan Barbançon & Habana Libre winning performance HERE.

The penultimate competitor in the class — which was also held at Wellington International under a stunning dusk sky — 30-year-old Barbançon put 72% on the board. She edged out Germany’s rising star, the 22-year-old Felicitas Hendricks, and her own 12-year-old Destano gelding Drombusch 2 (71.532%). The winner of the qualifying Grand Prix, Pablo Gómez Molina (ESP), finished just behind, claiming third with 71.043% on Javier Bacariza, Cristina Danguillecourt and the breeder Yeguada de Ymas’s 13-year-old PRE gelding Ulises De Ymas.

“Wednesday was a new arena and Habana’s first time under the lights, so I had to push a bit too much and that’s when I get mistakes,” she explained of the 11-year-old gelding by Zizi Top, who was the youngest horse in the class. “Today I decided to ride a very conservative test because if we are fault free then he automatically gets between a seven and an eight.

“Passage is our strong point, so I was really focusing on that. The piaffe was still a bit shy and not enough steps, but I came here to Wellington to give him as much experience and mileage as possible. I am not reaching out for big scores at the moment. He needs to understand that in there, it’s ok. I tried to ride a little bit smart today.

“I’m so proud of Habana tonight after Wednesday; he really kept it together,” added the Swiss-based rider. “I’ve been training with Gareth for a year now, and he’s helped me a bunch recently. Two weeks ago, the show really didn’t go well and both Havana and I had a huge loss of confidence, so I called Gareth ‘SOS!’ and he found the time for me. We did some sessions on the Pivo system and that really helped.”

Morgan Barbançon & Habana Libre presented as winners of the Wellington Equestrian Realty CDI5* Grand Prix Special. Photo © SusanJStickle.com
Morgan Barbançon & Habana Libre presented as winners of the
Wellington Equestrian Realty CDI5* Grand Prix Special. Photo © SusanJStickle.com

After the final week of AGDF 2023, Barbançon will head back to Europe with Habana, whom she rates extremely highly. “He is the best horse I ever rode. He has everything — no weak points. It’s just a matter of fine-tuning everything.”

Dressage competition resumes on Saturday at Equestrian Village, with the showcase class of the day, the Fair Sky Farm CDI3* Grand Prix Special, which begins at 11:40am and has 15 combinations on the start list. France’s Morgan Barbançon will be looking to repeat her victory from Thursday’s qualifying Grand Prix. AGDF 10 runs through Sunday. 

For more information and results, visit HERE.   

Click HERE for full results from AGDF 10.