London, U.K – Dec. 16, 2019 – Marking the start of top competition at the week long London International Horse Show, the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix got underway on Monday, December 16. Sixteen of the world’s top dressage athletes and horses performed under the glass roof of Olympia Grand and at the end of the class Great Britain swept the podium with Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Charlotte Fry — all three of which represented the Union Jack at the FEI European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands earlier this year.
For the second year in a row, the London International Horse Show piloted a new, shortened version of the Grand Prix. Last years’ version faced much criticism as athletes and judges felt it over-simplified the various movements required at the highest level of the sport. After another rework, this year’s test seemed an improvement to the difficult balancing act of ensuring the test’s difficulty while shortening the length to improve the spectator experience. In addition to the new format, spectators also receive the added bonus of live interviews immediately following each rider’s test where they had the opportunity to learn more about what goes into their rides and who they are as riders.
Riding in the first half of the class, the up-and-coming youngster, Charlotte Fry, took the early lead with a 75.368% on Van Olst Horses’ Everdale (Lord Leatherdale x Negro). The 10-year-old KWPN stallion competed in the U25 Grand Prix division last year with Fry before moving up to the senior Grand Prix division only eight short months ago. Despite a few moments of tension in her test, Fry was overall thrilled with Everdale’s performance and was excited about the opportunity to gain more experience with such a promising young horse. Their total score was enough to help them secure the third place prize at the conclusion of the class.
It was Fry’s previous instructor, Carl Hester, who came in second ahead of the young athlete. Riding the 11-year-old British Hanoverian gelding Hawtins Delicato (Diamond Hit x Regazzoni), Hester produced a test scored by the judges as a 75.789%. Though he was not overly thrilled with his performance, the British athlete revealed that the FEI World Cup Finals were not on his radar for 2020. Hester, instead, has his sights set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and used the opportunity to compete in an electric atmosphere to prepare his horse for the Games later next year.
Great Britain’s top rider and triple Olympic gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin and her mount Mount St. John Freestyle dominated the night at Olympia, wowing the crowd with their ride and receiving an impressive score of 81.553%. Mount St. John Freestyle (Fidermark x Donnerhall II), a 10-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Emma and Jill Blundell, carried Dujardin to the top of the leaderboard for her Olympia debut. The pair are coming off a successful trip to Lyon, France, in November where they won the CDI-W Grand Prix and placed second behind Isabell Werth in the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle.
Dressage competition at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, will continue on Tuesday, December 17, with the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle.
RESULTS: FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix
Place / Athlete / Country / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Charlotte Dujardin / GBR / Mount St. John Freestyle / Emma and Jill Blundell / 81.553
2. Carl Hester / GBR / Hawtins Delicato / Carl Hester, Anne Evans and Ann C / 75.789
3. Charlotte Fry / GBR / Everdale / Van Olst Horses / 75.368
4. Lara Butler / GBR / Rubin Al Asad / Dr. W and Mrs. U Bechtolsheimer / 74.053
5. Frederic Wandres / GER / Duke of Britain / Hof Kasselmann GmbH & Co. KG / 72.684
6. Anders Dahl / DEN / Fidelio van het Bloemenhof / Anders Dahl and Fiona Bigwood / 72.395
7. Louise Anne Bell / GBR / Into the Blue / Louise Bell / 70.026
8. Gareth Hughes / GBR / KK Woodstock / Claudine Kroll, Jessica Kroll and Mart / 69.789
9. Joao Miguel Torrao / POR / Equador / Coudelaria Monte Velho / 69.658
10. Mojca Usnik / SLO / Libertno / Libertino Syndicate and Mojca Usnik / 66.105
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Charlotte Dujardin – CDI-W Grand Prix winner
On her ride:
“I am so happy with how things went! It’s a really big atmosphere for young horses that don’t have much experience to go into. As I was riding around the outside of the arena, I could hear everyone going ‘Good Luck Charlotte!” That’s how close people are, and there is no way of training your horse to deal with that sort of atmosphere until you’re in there and actually doing it. I was really pleased with the feeling I had today in the arena. I’m really excited, and I think each time she goes out, she gets better.”
“To me, it wasn’t really about what score I got, I was just so pleased with her and how she dealt with everything. It was the first time going through the new test as well. I was really happy with everything she did. I couldn’t have asked any more from her.”
On the shortened test:
“I really liked the test — it does come up quite fast. I think especially from the walk to the zig zag, if you have a bad corner you’re in trouble for the zig zag, but I have to say it rode really nice. It’s a little bit strange doing everything off the right and not the left, but I really enjoyed it.”
On tomorrow’s Freestyle:
“Well I have to win again, haven’t I? I love riding the freestyles, I always find those the most fun of all of the tests. It’s a great chance to get back in that arena and do it all again, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. I love my music, it’s new music and I’ve only done it twice. I’m really excited.”
Carl Hester – CDI-W Grand Prix second place
On his ride:
“I think we can do a lot better. He did such a great Grand Prix at the European Championships. But to be fair, this is the first time I’ve had him out since then in August. It does show when you don’t compete the horses regularly and you aren’t in test mode. At the end of the day, we are working backwards from the Olympics now. I’m not thinking of doing the World Cup —this is just a great home show and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’m now thinking forward from this show and I’m getting myself out and competing more.”
“You’re always disappointed when you make mistakes but I’m 52. I shouldn’t be making mistakes anymore. When you make a mistake, it’s irritating because he’s one of the most talented horses I’ve had and I’m just taking a bit more time to get to that point where he’s confident.”
On the shortened freestyle:
“I liked it actually, it does happen very quickly. I did watch some tests before I rode and I actually thought it was a lot nicer to watch as well. It does come up very quickly as a rider, but I think it has all the right things in it. We got the rein-back, and I think it was great to put that back in. We don’t need three extended trots that’s for sure. I think this was a step in the right direction, and visually it was a lot nicer to watch.”
On tomorrow’s freestyle:
“I’m looking forward to the music. It’s such a great place to ride. I’m looking forward to riding here tomorrow using one of my old programs that’s a difficult one but I know where I’m going. I have a new program being made at the moment — I was hoping it would be ready to come here but it’s just taking a bit more tweaking to do.”
Charlotte Fry – CDI-W Grand Prix third place
On her ride:
“He felt amazing! I’m actually shaking. It was coming up really fast. I’ve actually never ridden the whole test through before and I was so pleased. He was a little tense in here but I haven’t ridden him in such a big atmosphere. I’m really proud. I can’t quite believe I’m sitting next to you two there [Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester]. It’s a bit crazy. It was the biggest atmosphere he has ever competed in and he has had a long trip to come here. He’s not used to going abroad so I was pleased with him. He did an amazing test—his best test yet and his best score yet. I was a little nervous in the two weeks before, it was a bit surreal. It was an amazing feeling and it was so fun to ride him. He has a lot of potential and he’s getting better each time we go out. There are still things to improve on, so I think next year will be exciting for him.”
On tomorrow’s Freestyle:
“We have new music and it’s a lot more difficult so it will be my first time riding it here.”
On returning to Great Britain to compete:
“It’s really amazing to compete in Britain again. I’ve only competed twice in England in the past five years. It’s amazing to be back. I wouldn’t say it is very different, there is just as much competition because the British have such a high standard now. I love being back and competing in England. It’s really fun and the crowd was amazing tonight.”