London, U.K – Dec. 16, 2021 – After a year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the London International Horse Show (LIHS) returned to the historic city of London Thursday, December 16. Usually held under the glass roof of Olympia Grand, competition organizers announced in April that the 2021 edition of the show would relocate to ExCel London, a 100-acre convention center nestled in East London, while the West Kensington location continues with its redevelopment plan. Kicking off the week of FEI World Cup Qualifiers in Jumping, Dressage and Driving was the CDI-W Grand Prix, which began promptly at 8:30 a.m. and welcomed an audience of tentative spectators. Fifteen entries representing eight countries put their names forward, but it was Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin who once again claimed the top spot on the podium, riding Gio.
Featuring the shortened Grand Prix test format, Gareth Hughes (GBR) and KK Dominant took an early lead as the third combination to compete. The pair earned a 69.605%, which would hold the lead until fellow British athlete Richard Davison would overtake the lead on 71.526% as the tenth pair to perform with Bubblingh. Immediately following, 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and European Championships individual bronze medalists Dujardin and Gio (Apache x Zenzi — Tango) entered the arena. In Gio’s first ever indoor competition and first time performing the Short Grand Prix test, the talented 10-year-old KWPN gelding claimed a Grand Prix personal best score of 82.553% to take a strong lead with four left to be seen. Though the remaining combinations would put forth scores above 75%, none could break the 80% barrier, ultimately leaving Dujardin and Gio to lead the lap of honor.
Gio, better known as “Pumpkin,” has been developed by Dujardin since he was 5 years-old. In October of 2021, Gio was sold to 16-year-old British athlete Annabella Pidgley, a 2021 junior European Championships double individual silver medalist. Dujardin is currently training the pair, and was able to take over the ride once again to compete at her final show of the year, the London International Horse Show.
Second place honors were awarded to Germany’s Frederic Wandres and Hof Kasselmann GmbH & Co.KG’s Duke of Britain FRH (Dimaggio x Real Gold — Rubinstein). Currently leading the FEI Dressage World Cup Western European league standings, Wandres and the 14-year-old BHHS gelding posted a score of 75.158% for the reserve position. Rounding out the top three on 75.105% was Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Atterupgaards Orthilia (I.P.S Gribaldi x Atterupgaards Olivia — Donnerschlag), a 16-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Blue Hors Aps.
Dressage competition at The London International Horse Show, will continue on Friday, December 17, with the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle at 2:35 p.m. EST.
FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix:
Place / Athlete / Country / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Charlotte Dujardin / GBR / Gio / Sarah Pidgley / 82.553%
2. Frederic Wandres / GER / Duke of Britain FRH / 75.158%
3. Nanna Skodborg / DEN / Atterupgaards Orthilia / Blue Hors Aps / 75.105%
4. Charlotte Fry / GBR / Dark Legend / Van Olst Horses, Charlotte Fry / 74.526%
5. Richard Davison / GBR / Bubblingh / Mrs G Meyer, Mr R Davison / 71.526%
6. Agusti Elias Lara / ESP / Alraneiro / Annabelle Collins, Quirze Elias Vin / 69.842%
7. Gareth Hughes / GBR / KK Dominant / Claudine Kroll, Jessica Kroll, Mart / 69.605%
8. Lara Butler / GBR / Kristjan / Laura Tomlinson, Ursula Bechtolshei / 69.368%
9. Hayley Watson-Greaves / GBR / Rubins Nite / Hayley Watson-Greaves / 67.790%
10. Tommie Visser / NED / Genesis Begijnhoeve / Julie Raymaekers, Stoeterij de Begi / 67.605%
11. Alejandro Asencio Mendez / ESP / Focus / Equifoal, S. L. / 67.605%
12. Caroline Chew / SGP / Tribiani / Melanie Chew, Tony Chew / 67.474%
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Charlotte Dujardin – CDI-W Grand Prix winner
On her test:
“I have had a fantastic year going to the Olympics and the European Championships, then ending my year, as I always do, at this show! I am over the moon with today’s ride! That is the first time I have ridden the short format Grand Prix with Gio. He is still very inexperienced and this was his first indoor competition as well. I wasn’t sure how he was going to be because it is a big arena in there with lots of people moving and spectators around. In the warmup, there are tons of people around as well, which he hasn’t really experienced before. He handled it all so well and went in there and did a fantastic test, so I am really pleased with him.”
“He is small but mighty! He is my little pocket rocket. He can do everything! That test actually suits him very well because it is quite twisty and turny and things come up quickly. For him, those lines work really well because he is small.
“He is obviously a very talented horse and I say he is inexperienced because he had never done an indoor show before today! He has gone from having no one around with COVID, to spectators. The European Championships were a real learning curve because we had spectators there and a full house with the crowd clapping as you came in, and those are all things you forget about. I was so pleased with how he went in and did it.”
On what she thought about Gio when she met him:
“He has this special look about him and then when I rode him, I knew he was going to be a very special horse for the Grand Prix. I knew he wasn’t a young horse winner, but for Grand Prix, you can feel the power he has. For him to go in there and do all he has done, he has made this year absolutely fantastic.”
On Gio’s year:
“This year, he had to up his game very quickly. He is 10 years-old and he hadn’t done very much before the Olympic Games. To do two major championships in one year and then come here to finish his year when he has never done an indoor show and do a new test, it really shows you what sort of character he is. He is an absolute trooper!”
On her partnership with Gio:
“This is what I love about having horses from a young age. I bought him when he was five, so we have had five years of training, getting to know each other and building our relationship with one another. That is what is so special, building that relationship. We trust each other, we know each other inside and out. If I need to help him, I can help him, and if he needs to help me, he does. It is an amazing partnership that we have built in those years of training.”
On the Freestyle:
“This will be the third time I am getting to ride to music. I absolutely love this music. What a night tomorrow night will be! Again, I am sure it will be a full house with crowds, so to get to go in there and ride it just before Christmas and end my year that way, I am very excited!”
On the Short Grand Prix test:
“I actually really like it. It is quick! You are so used to doing three or four more piaffes and changes, and it is a bit strange doing everything off of the right rather than the left. For years we did things off the left and now all of a sudden we are doing things off the right! I really enjoyed it.”
On competing at the London International Horse Show:
“I have to say, it is not the same [as when it was at Olympia]. There is nothing like that grand hall when you walk in, the glass roof and everything that was so close to it. That is one of the most spectacular arenas, but [ExCel] is much bigger and gives us much more room to spread out. They have done a fantastic job of setting it up! When you go down the shoot, you almost think you are [at Olympia]! It is very similar and they have tried to keep it the same, so it is lovely.”