London, U.K – Dec. 17, 2021 – Dressage competition at the London International Horse Show (LIHS) came to a head Friday, December 17, with the highly anticipated CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle. Following an impressive performance and subsequent victory for Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Gio Thursday morning, the crowd gathered for the next day’s evening event, eager to watch the top competitors battle it out to music at the impressive ExCel London venue. All fifteen horse-and-rider combinations returned to vie for the top spot, but in the end Dujardin and Gio could not be beat. The pair wowed both the crowd and the judges with their charismatic freestyle and technically strong test, earning a final score and new personal best of 89.04%.
Dujardin and Gio (Apache x Zenzi — Tango), partners at this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games, continue to prove just how formidable they are at the highest level of dressage sport. Purchased by 16-year-old British rider and Junior European Championships silver medalist Annabella Pidgley in October, “Pumpkin,” a 10-year-old KWPN gelding, has continued his training with Dujardin while she also aids the young pair in developing a partnership of their own. Dujardin and Gio didn’t miss a beat in picking up training following a short respite after the Games, and went into their first ever indoor competition yesterday with another impressive victory. Putting the cherry on top of the cake at the iconic London International Horse Show and the fourth leg of the Western European World Cup league, Dujardin was awarded scores over 90% by three of the judges for their freestyle performance, which featured a high degree of difficulty with transitions like the extended canter to pirouette throughout the Tom Hunt designed tune.
Dujardin mentioned that although the future of her career with Gio is uncertain, she is pleased that he continues to teach Pidgley so well and that she was able to end his record year on home turf in London in the presence of an electric crowd.
Current leaders of the FEI Dressage World Cup Western European league standings, Frederic Wandres and Hof Kasselmann GmbH & Co.KG’s Duke of Britain FRH (Dimaggio x Real Gold — Rubinstein), a 14-year-old BHHS gelding, finished with a score of 80.26%. The pair earned the second place podium in Thursday’s Grand Prix, and took over a solid lead in the Freestyle after Lara Butler (GBR) held the lead for the first half of the class with a 76.305%. Wandres was not able to maintain the top position for long however, as Great Britain’s Charlotte Fry rode Dark Legend (Zucchero x Zoe — Tango), a 13-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Fry and Van Olst Horses, to a score of 81.945%. Fry and Dark Legend took home the second place ribbon at the conclusion of the evening’s festivities, while Wandres and Duke of Britain FRH took third place.
Competition at The London International Horse Show will continue on Saturday, December 18, featuring the FEI Jumping CSI5*-W “Longines Christmas Cracker.”
FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle:
Place / Athlete / Country / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Charlotte Dujardin / GBR / Gio / Sarah Pidgley / 89.04%
2. Charlotte Fry / GBR / Dark Legend / Van Olst Horses, Charlotte Fry / 81.945%
3. Frederic Wandres / GER / Duke of Britain FRH / 80.26%
4. Richard Davison / GBR / Bubblingh / Mrs G Meyer, Mr R Davison / 76.91%
5. Lara Butler / GBR / Kristjan / Laura Tomlinson, Ursula Bechtolshei / 76.305%
6. Hayley Watson-Greaves / GBR / Rubins Nite / Hayley Watson-Greaves / 75.875%
7. Gareth Hughes / GBR / KK Dominant / Claudine Kroll, Jessica Kroll, Mart / 75.845%
8. Alejandro Asencio Mendez / ESP / Focus / Equifoal, S. L. / 73.775%
9. Louise Anne Belle / GBR / Into the Blue / Louise Anne Belle, Tonya Wood, John / 73.215%
10. Tommie Visser / NED / Genesis Begijnhoeve / Julie Raymaekers, Stoeterij de Begi / 73.095%
11. Agusti Elias Lara / ESP / Alraneiro / Annabelle Collins, Quirze Elias Vin / 71.725%
12. Caroline Chew / SGP / Tribiani / Melanie Chew, Tony Chew / 70.16
13. Nanna Skodborg / DEN / Atterupgaards Orthilia / Blue Hors Aps / Elim.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Charlotte Dujardin – CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle winner
On her performance:
“There is nothing more exciting than going into an arena with a huge crowd behind you. I had forgotten what it was actually like to go in and hear that buzz! It was absolutely incredible! Gio has never experienced anything like that before, so I can’t tell you how proud I am of him! He has done amazing this year with his first Olympic Games, first European Championships, then finishing the year with this. He has come on so much, so quickly. I am just so proud of him. To have come all this way and finish my year with two personal bests, yesterday in the Grand Prix and tonight in that atmosphere, is amazing. You can’t [replicate] those atmospheres other than riding in it. He definitely showed and proved what sort of horse he is, because he took it on like a real showman.”
On the future with Gio and his new owner:
“I am not sure how it is going to work [with Annabella Pidgley]. We haven’t really made a plan and it has all happened quite fast. She has been riding him up to coming here and it is magical to watch the combination together. It makes me emotional to watch because there he is, still a very young Grand Prix horse, and she is learning all the Grand Prix stuff, and between the two of them, she swings her legs and he does the changes! It is pretty incredible! It is really exciting and I am so excited for her. She is a really good up-and-coming rider and next year will be very exciting.”
Charlotte “Lottie” Fry – CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle second place
On her experience:
“It was incredible. Before you even go in for your test, you can hear the crowd cheering for you. It is an insane feeling. It is so quiet when you are riding your test, you could hear a pin drop. Then, as soon as you finish, everyone is so happy for you. It is just the most amazing feeling. I don’t think the year could have ended any better. This is the perfect ending to this amazing year.”
On the difference between Everdale and Dark Legend:
“They are very different. Everdale is a big show off that loves the crowd and Darky would run the other way if he got the chance! I was actually super proud of Darky tonight because he really put his brave pants on and did a really good job! I feel like they are similar in a way that neither of them would ever want to let me down and they always try their hardest no matter what. In that way they are similar, but Everdale is definitely the show off.”
Frederic Wandres – CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle third place
On the London International Horse Show:
“From my perspective, I am very happy that we were able to come here. The trip here was not as easy with the paperwork we needed for Brexit and COVID. We are professionals in traveling and that was challenging, but we really wanted to come here to London because I have special memories here. Duke of Britain in Britain? There is no other option! We really wanted to come and it all worked well. I am very happy to be next to both Charlottes and I am also very proud because Charlotte [Dujardin] is someone I look up to. I am happy with my horse and what was created here was fantastic. I will bring all my thoughts back to Germany! I have a very important horse show in Germany tomorrow, but I will tell all of my colleagues what a great show this is.”