Laura Bechtolsheimer heads British clean sweep at Olympia

LauraB.jpg

A packed and vocal audience watched history being made on the second night of dressage at Olympia, London. The top three riders were all awarded scores in excess of 83%, and they were all Brits.

World number two Laura Bechtolsheimer improved a place from the previous night’s qualifying grand prix to lead the freestyle with Mistral Hojris (“Alf”) in the fourth leg of the World Cup dressage series.

The horse, who has in the past struggled to cope with the atmosphere, looked confident, powerful and expressive and Laura was able to ride the movements as she wanted rather than manage his tension. She scored 9.5 from two judges for her passage/piaffe/passage transitions.

“I’m thrilled”, she said. “We won the grand prix here last year, but we’ve never won the freestyle, and this is such a special show; the home crowd are great. It means everything to have won.

“I wanted to show that Alf and me aren’t old news, and there’s still more to come,” she added.

Winner of the grand prix, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, had to settle for second. Her 83.7% put her just 0.275% behind Laura.

She scored a 10 for piaffe and three 10s for her extended trot &mdsah; a highlight of both Valegro and Carl Hester’s third placed Uthopia.

Charlotte said: “I was very pleased with my test, Valegro was a bit hotter than yesterday and went in with a bit of tension, and I didn’t make my halt at the beginning. We made a mistake in the twos and the ones, but managed to repeat them.”

This caps a sensational first season at grand prix for both Charlotte and the nine-year-old Valegro.

“It’s only my second Kur with Valegro, and for a nine-year-old to go in and do that is incredible,” she added.

Carl Hester‘s 83.45% with the 10-year-old Metall stallion Uthopia, was good enough for third. The horse is so light on his feet yet powerful and expressive.

“I think my horse went the best he could today,” said Carl. “When you’re starting at the bottom with these horses, then degrees of difficulty have to be improved on — I didn’t think there was much I could improve on tonight. I did want to beat these two [Laura and Charlotte] today, I want to be called their kid brother, not their grandad!”

Rider interviews

For a full report see next Thursday’s Horse & Hound magazine, out 22 December

Grand prix freestyle result
1, Mistral Hojris (Laura Bechtolsheimer) GBR 83.975;
2, Valegro (Charlotte Dujardin) GBR 83.700;
3, Uthopia (Carl Hester) GBR 83.450;
4, Hiscox Artemis (Richard Davison) GBR 75.050;
5, Elvis VA (Nadine Capellmann) GER 74.600;
6, Fernandez (Cathrine Rasmussen) NOR 73.975;
7, Divoza Horseworld Ovation (Christa Laarakkers-Larmoyeur) NED 72.950;
8, Pro-Set (Lillann Jebsen) NOR 72.750;
9, Krawall (Jenny Schreven) NED 71.825;
10, Lennox (Cecilia Dorselius) SWE 71.250;
11, Donnerfee (Claudia Fassaert) BEL 71.025;
12, World Performance Washington (Luis Principe) POR 70.750;
13, Karamel de Lauture (Claire Gosselin) FRA 69.125;
14, Le Mont d’Or (Anja Plonzke) GER 69.000;
15, Louis D’Or (Henriette Andersen) GBR 68.475.