There is no doubt that a major highlight of this year’s Olympia, The London International Horse Show was Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro not only winning the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Freestyle, supported by Horse & Hound, but breaking their own World Record score that they set here last year, as well as claiming their third successive victory at the show.
The pair entertained the full house last week with their practically foot-perfect programme to a compilation of emotive music from the soundtrack to the film ‘How to Train your Dragon’, – the same music that won them the World Championship title at the World Equestrian Games in August.
They made piaffe-pirouettes, passage half passes and bold daring extensions look easy and the test that has to be the best freestyle ever ridden, received a standing ovation from a full house and a mark of 94.3 per cent from the judges.
“He is the most incredible horse, he just keeps giving and giving,” said Charlotte, who in April this year became the first Briton to win the World Cup title since the inception of the series in 1986. “I was absolutely thrilled with my ride – the last piaffe pirouette I was nearly in tears he was with me all the way.”
Olympia reported that as last year, leading Dutch rider Edward Gal and Glocks Undercover were second, with a test that made the most of Undercover’s rhythmic passage and piaffe. It was Edward Gal who in 2009 set the standard in freestyle, breaking the then world record score when winning at Olympia with Totilas.
“Charlotte, I know how you feel,” said Edward. “A standing ovation is a really great feeling because we work really hard and it makes the work worthwhile.”
Olympia debutante Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, a former European Young Rider Champion, gained third place with Beatrice Burchler-Keller’s Unee BB – an elegant black stallion by Gribaldi.
“It was a privilege for me just to sit next to Charlotte and Edward,” she said. “While I have not had a World Record feeling yet I am working on it.”
Danielle Heijkoop and Siro N.O.P., trained by Anky Van Grunsven – winner of the World Cup on nine occasions from 1995 to 2008, were fourth.
“Charlotte’s test was just out of this world – I honestly thought in 2009 that we would never see the same again,” said Stephen Clarke, President of the Ground Jury. “I am not sure what it is about this show that produces such dressage – the horses are incredible here.”