Although a few mistakes marred Valegro‘s grand prix in the Florida leg of the World Dressage Masters, during his finest moments he and Charlotte Dujardin thrilled the crowd of 1,700 at the sold-out competition.
The combination, who have only been competing at grand prix for a year, set the bar very high for the home side favorites and experienced partnership of Steffen Peters with Ravel.
Charlotte’s mark of 78.468 was well ahead of third-place Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfve with Favourit on 73.255. But Steffen, last to go at Palm Beach County’s Jim Brandon Center, put on a bravura performance for a grand prix personal best of 81.383 to stay ahead of the pack.
Charlotte did well to keep her powerful boy in hand, as he signaled his mood by being overeager at the first halt.
“He was keen to go today,” she explained afterwards. “Obviously, my entry was expensive; my pirouette and zigzag on center line, that wasn’t so good either. He’s young and still learning, so I’ll have to forgive him, but he did some really, really amazing things.”
Valegro had fooled her into believing he would be calm.
“The last few days, he’s been a bit quiet, like a little bit tired, so I eased up on him, thinking I didn’t want him too tired for the test, and he surprised me,” she said.
Charlotte’s mentor, Carl Hester, was first into the arena for his show debut with Fiona Bigwood’s Wie Atlantico. They put in a very steady test to finish eighth of 16 entries on 69.979 and qualify for Saturday night’s Grand Prix Freestyle.
“I was delighted, actually,” said Carl, noting he’s only ridden the horse about a dozen times.
Assessing his test, he said, “It was fairly mistake-free, lacking a bit of self-carriage here and there.” While there were “little things” that brought down the score, Carl observed, “Over all, I’m very happy. It made it worthwhile coming and I enjoyed riding him. I didn’t want to let his record down.”
Grand prix results
1, Ravel (Steffen Peters) USA 81.383%
2, Valegro (Charlotte Dujardin) GBR 78.468%
3, Favourit (Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven) SWE 73.255%
4, Wizard (Adrienne Lyle) USA 72.149%
=5, Le Mont d’Or (Anja Pl ¶nzke) GER 71.404%
=5, Pop Art (Ashley Holzer) CAN 71.404%
7, Paragon (Heather Blitz) USA 71.000%
8, Wie Atlantico (Carl Hester) GBR 69.979%
9, Otto (Todd Flettrich) USA 69.6385%
10, Calecto V (Tina Konyot) USA 68.447%