Sarah Jenkins: when success breeds success

  • When Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro moved from wowing judges and crowds on their grand prix debut to breaking records on an international stage and winning Olympic gold, British dressage enthusiasts everywhere said “this will raise the standard of the sport in this country”.

    I’ll admit to being a tad skeptical. I saw one exceptionally talented rider partnered with one exceptional horse trained by one exceptional trainer. I struggled to see how, without everyone having the good fortune of ability, horsepower and training access, the impact of Valegro’s brilliance would be raising the standard of combinations at all levels. After all, I saw no improvement to the standard of driving on the M25 on my morning commute to the yard despite Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 prowess.

    How wrong I was. This weekend, we not only saw Charlotte and Valegro add 2015 World Cup champion to their Olympic, World and European accolades, but also, at the national Winter Dressage Championships, judge Mark Ruddock accosted H&H dressage editor Alice Collins to say he wanted to go on record to say how incredibly impressed by the standard of the Blue Chip novice restricted championship he had just judged — this class being specifically aimed at keen amateur riders.

    “There are more Valegros coming along,” he said.

    Fellow judge Judy Harvey refers to the “confidence and harmony” witnessed in the lower levels, too — compliments synonymous with Valegro.

    And so we can be confident that our hero’s brilliance is trickling through the levels, whether through shared knowledge or motivational inspiration, to the benefit of horses at all levels. Never mind the Greenwich course — that’s a wonderful Olympic legacy.

    Huge thanks to those readers who have taken the time to get in touch over the past week to give feedback on our new look and content — thankfully largely positive, but I appreciate it all! One very valid point made was that some of our new fonts have proved challenging in terms of legibility for some. This being the case, rest assured we will be rectifying this over the next few weeks.

    Ref: H&H 23 April, 2014

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