Charlotte Dujardin finished more than 5% ahead of her nearest rivals in the grand prix at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup dressage final this afternoon in Las Vegas.
Charlotte and Valegro scored 85.414%, a little short of their grand prix best of 87.46%. But the British pair were still head and shoulders above the competition, with second-placed Edward Gal achieving a mark of 79.057% on Glock’s Undercover NOP.
“Yesterday I was worried — he was quite flat and not himself,” said Charlotte. “He’d had a 24-hour journey, jetlag has hit him as well as the temperature change, and it’s all stuff he’s got to acclimatise to and myself as well. But I got on him today and he felt ready to go, I think he just knew what he had to do and he never lets me down.
“I think it took me a little while to get into the test, but the canterwork felt great and I really enjoyed it.”
Charlotte rode a little more conservatively than sometimes on Carl Hester, Roly Luard and Ann Bar’s Negro son, building up to the extensions rather than firing from marker to marker, but the only tiny blip was a loss of rhythm in the second piaffe.
“He was still a bit hot so I couldn’t get my leg on, then I touched him in the second piaffe and I think I got a few double beats, but otherwise I was really happy,” she said.
The atmosphere was testing for the horses today, with the crowd and judges very close — riders have to start their test from within the arena as there isn’t enough space to go round the edge of the boards. Glock’s Undercover NOP showed some tension, particularly with a mistake in the walk to passage transition, but overall Dutch rider Edward was pleased.
“I didn’t know what to expect after not riding him for three days while he went through quarantine,” he said. “Yesterday he was tense and the tension was up and down through the test, but if he was like this a year ago I wouldn’t have been able to ride him at all, so I was pleased.”
Two Americans in top five
The home side crowd were delighted to see the USA’s Steffen Peters finish third with 76.843% on Legolas, who he has been preparing especially for this atmosphere after he was “very nervous in an electric environment” at a show in Florida in January.
Steffen took 10sec of cheering from the end of a test and turned it into a 10min sound clip, playing it to Legolas over and over in his indoor arena.
“I’m so happy those long hours of relaxation and mentally preparing paid off,” he said, adding that the management of the show had been very fair to the horses in allowing the riders to do the sound check for the freestyle mounted so the horses can “get used to the correct decibels”.
Young American Laura Graves set the standard in the first half of the draw, scoring 74.286 on Verdades, whose only error was spooking at the trophy in one corner of the arena during the half-pass left. She finished fifth, just behind Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, who had a mistake in the two-time changes with her smart Gribaldi stallion Unee BB.
Spain’s Morgan Barbancon-Mestre took sixth with the stallion Painted Black, who caused some excitement when he got loose at the trot-up earlier in the week.
The scores from this test do not actually count towards the final placings in this World Cup final, although they determine the starting order for the freestyle on Saturday.
Check back on www.horseandhound.co.uk for more updates from the World Cup final. Full reports in H&H out next Thursday (23 April).