Charlotte Dujardin and new ride smash 80% barrier to scoop Windsor freestyle title

Charlotte Dujardin and Erlentanz delivered a wow-factor performance to break the 80% barrier and take their second 2019 Royal Windsor Horse Show title.

The pair, who also claimed Thursday’s Al Shira’aa grand prix win, followed up on their victory to produce a stellar test for 81.9%.

“Erly” is a relatively new ride for Charlotte — she has taken over the reins while owner/rider Sonnar Murray-Brown recovers from a broken leg and her first grand prix test with the horse was exactly two months ago, on 10 March at Myerscough.

The combination rode to Valegro’s iconic How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack, powering up the first centre line with an enormous extended trot.

The 12-year-old, by Latimer, looked to be thoroughly enjoying himself in Windsor’s atmospheric Castle arena.

The only blip in the impressive test came in the canter pirouette, where a miscommunication between horse and rider resulted in Erly breaking to trot. However Charlotte managed to pop him back into canter and squeezed an extra pirouette in later in the test.

I was really pleased with him, obviously there was just that one pirouette,” she said. “I think I did more of that first pirouette than he did! So I thought ‘right, I’ve got to stop, pick it up and start again’.”

Adding the extra movement proved to be worth it. One of the judges told Charlotte she received a two for the first attempt and a nine for the second.

“He has never done anything in this environment and he tries so hard — it is just about getting him confident in the arena because he goes in there and lacks self confidence,” said Charlotte, explaining this is only her second freestyle with this horse. “I feel as a rider that’s what I have to do is give him that and say ‘it’s alright, you can do it’.”

Sadly Carl Hester and Nip Tuck, who finished second in last night’s grand prix, were unable to contest freestyle title as the horse picked up an injury overnight.

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Richard Davison and Bubblingh were awarded a personal best at this level as a combination of 78.31% to finish second.

The combination’s Gangsta’s Paradise soundtrack reverberated through the stands and was a striking match for the big-moving horse’s powerhouse test.

Third went to Ireland’s Heike Holstein and her homebred mare, Sambuca, on 74.92% — a new personal best for this pair by more than 4%.

For the full report from Royal Windsor Horse Show, don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound — out Thursday, 15 May.