Excitement builds ahead of Charlotte Dujardin's official retirement ceremony with Valegro. We hear a spotlight and a spectacular final centre line may be involved...

Ahead of Valegro’s retirement ceremony at Olympia tonight (14 December), H&H caught up with Charlotte Dujardin to find out what ‘Blueberry’ has been up to recently, and what we can expect from the evening, which has been shrouded in secrecy.

How has this week in London been so far?

“The fan reaction has been incredible,” Charlotte grins. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve met people who’ve come from all over the world to see me and Blueberry do our retirement, and it’s really, really meant a lot that people have come all this way to see us. It just shows how special he is, and how many people’s hearts he’s captured.”

What has Valegro’s reaction been to the crowd?

“Oh, he loves it. He had a really good time in there last night,” she says, laughing. “It’s such an incredible arena to ride in, the atmosphere is amazing. And I think the whole Christmas spirit at the end of the year makes it — it’s just a lovely, lovely show.”

Does Blueberry know that something special is going on?

“I think he was slightly confused last night, with the fact he went in there and wasn’t doing a test. People were applauding, and he loved it, and was like, ‘Yeah!’.” emphasises Charlotte doing an animated impression of Valegro trotting for added effect. “You can feel him grow in himself, and feel the excitement.”

What has he been up to since Rio?

“He’s had an easy time, but we went to New York straight after Rio, and we did a display there. Thousands of people managed to come and see him, which was lovely. Since then he’s just been hacking and cantering round the field, having a nice, easy time. Then we picked him up ready for here.”

When will his next public appearance be?

“I think he’s going the KWPN stallion show in February. So we’re going to do a farewell in Holland; the Dutch people there are so proud of him. They want to have a little send off as well for him which is lovely.” Will she be there herself? “Yes.” Will she let Carl ride him? “No!”

How are the team feeling ahead of tonight?

Charlotte pauses, reflecting. “The atmosphere among the team is good. It probably will be emotional, but we’ve have such an amazing journey, and we all know it’s the right thing to do. Valegro owes us nothing; he’s an incredible horse.”

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Will he be invited to the wedding?

“Of course! I really, really want that picture of him with me in my wedding dress; that’s going to be the icing on the cake for me.”

What can we expect from your performance this evening?

Charlotte beams, but gives away nothing. “You’ll have to wait and see!”

For a special Valegro supplement and the full report of action from Olympia, pick up a copy of Horse & Hound magazine on Thursday 22 December.