Ladies in hard hats ruled the roost on this the first of three days of international grand prix dressage at CDI Hagen, Germany.

Drawn late, Carl Hester and Roly Luard’s Valegro took a commanding and unassailable lead under the guidance of Charlotte Dujardin, whose score was a personal best.

The Negro/Gershwin 10-year-old gelding posted 81.426%, despite a loss of balance in the extended trot which saw him awarded fours and fives from the five-strong panel of judges.

“He was in a class of his own,” said Isobel Wessels, judge at M.

Valegro was a full 5% clear of Isabel Werth and the Don Frederico/Warkant gelding Don Johnson who stood second. Anabel Balkenhol and Dablino were just behind in third on 75.4%.

At the show, called Horses And Dreams Meets Greats Britain, stewards are dressed in kilts and the union jack flies all over the showground (often upside down) so it was apt that the British national anthem rang out in the prize-giving. Valegro was even presented with a pile of carrots on a silver platter.

This grand prix is the qualifier for Sunday morning’s Olympic special in which Charlotte will be hoping to impress selectors again ahead of this summer’s Games.

Tomorrow also sees the grand prix to qualify for Sunday afternoon’s music freestyle in which Totilas is due to make his much-hyped 2012 competition debut.

Charlotte, who was ninth here last year, thanked her support team and added: “I’m just so lucky to have the ride on a horse like Valegro.”

The other Brits in the class both posted solid performances. Laura Bechtolsheimer and Andretti H showed a powerful piaffe-passage tour and Laura was thrilled with the 17-year-old’s 74%, which in this high quality class was only good enough for fifth place.

Emile Faurie drew on his years of experience to guide the hot Elmegardens Marquis, by Michellino, through a fault-free test to take seventh on 72.298%.

For a full report see next Thursday’s Horse & Hound magazine.