Some horses like the atmosphere at Olympia and some don’t. Nine-year-old superstar Valegro is clearly one of the few who feeds off it.
Though still in her first season at grand prix – and the horse’s – 25-year-old Charlotte Dujardin pulled off a fabulous personal best tonight to head the grand prix qualifier. Her 81.043% put her well clear of second placed Laura Bechtolsheimer (Mistral Hojris), who scored 79.234%.
“It’s been my goal to hit the 80% mark,” said Charlotte. “He started off nervous out there, but he settled and that gave me confidence. He’s never been in an arena like that and neither have I. There’s more pressure on me here where people know who I am, whereas abroad they don’t really know me.”
Brits also filled third and fourth spots with Carl Hester’s European championships partner Uthopia showing some signs of tension and inattentiveness to finish on 75.477% with Richard Davison and Hiscox Artemis just behind him.
Could Charlotte keep her cool tomorrow and become the first Brit ever to win the UK’s only World Cup qualifier? My money’s certainly on her.
For a full report see next Thursday’s Horse & Hound magazine, out 22 December.