Who will win the dressage World Cup qualifier at the London International Horse Show?

  • The dressage World Cup qualifier at the London International Horse Show, supported by Horse & Hound, is always a thrilling showdown of top class dressage, dusted with Christmas magic. This year looks to be as exciting as ever, with a truly world-class line-up descending on London’s ExCeL.

    With Netherlands-based Brit Lottie Fry opting to bring her 2022 world champion ride, Glamourdale, to make his debut appearance on British soil, she has become the odds-on favourite to walk away with the win in the freestyle on Friday night (16 December). Glamourdale has not competed since winning double individual gold for Britain at the World Dressage Championships in August, but is on super form at home, hence Lottie’s decision to substitute him for her original entry, Everdale.

    If Glamourdale were to replicate his 90.65% freestyle from the worlds, it would be the highest mark seen at LIHS, except for the world record scores achieved by Totilas (2009) and Valegro (2013, 2014).

    Lottie Fry freestyle

    Lottie and Glamourdale performing their freestyle in Herning.

    A born showman, Glamourdale is unlikely to be fazed by the electric atmosphere at LIHS, and he and Lottie are sure to receive a rapturous welcome by British crowds, many of whom will be seeing the world champions in the flesh for the first time. Their “Best of British” soundtrack, created by Joost Peters, should go down a storm, too. Make no mistake, Lottie and Glamourdale will be going for glory.

    Giving the world champions a run for their money, however, will be the British pair who pulled out a fabulous fifth in the freestyle at the World Championships this summer: Gareth Hughes and Classic Briolinca. They’ll be keen to show off their popular “Madonna” routine on home soil, and have shown they are well capable of scoring in the mid-80s with it. Beating Glamourdale at his best may be an ambitious target, but expect Gareth and Briolinca to finish in the top three.

    World Dressage Championships results Gareth Hughes

    Gareth Hughes and Classic Briolinca in the World Dressage Championships freestyle

    There’s a small but strong German contingent crossing the Channel for LIHS this year, in the form of Helen Langehanenburg and Ingrid Klimke. Olympic eventer Indrid is riding a fruitful dressage wave this year, with team bronze at the World Dressage Championships and victory at the Stuttgart World Cup qualifier in November. She brings forward the stallion behind that success, the 10-year-old Fidertanz son Franziskus FRH, who is going from strength to strength. The pair posted 83.44% at Stuttgart, and there’s everything to suggest their upward trajectory can continue in London.

    Helen Langehanenburg is another with big scores on her record with the 14-year-old Holsteiner Annabelle 110. They’ve breached the 80% barrier numerous times, including on their last outing, to the World Cup leg in Madrid. Somewhat surprisingly, this will be Olympic silver medallist Helen’s first trip to LIHS, so she’ll be determined to make an impact.

    On the other hand, Hans Peter Minderhoud counts five competitive appearances at LIHS, amongst them several top-three finishes and a grand prix win in 2018. He brings forward that same ride, Glock’s Dream Boy, for 2022, his first time at the show’s new home of ExCeL.

    Hans Peter Minderhoud at Dream Boy at Olympia 2018

    Hans Peter Minderhoud and Dream Boy winning the grand prix at the 2018 London Horse Show

    This will be the 14-year-old Vivaldi stallion’s first international show since February, having sustained an injury earlier in the year that ruled him out of selection for the summer’s world championships. If he returns on the same form he has shown in previous years, he and Hans Peter will be ones to to be reckoned with.

    Never to be underestimated are Richard Davison and Bubblingh, another member of this year’s British world championship team to be in action at LIHS. The pair have a good track record at this show, their best result having come in 2021 when they finished fourth in the freestyle.

    London Horse Show dressage debutants to watch

    Keep your eye on LIHS newcomers Andrew Gould and Indigro, who have made quite the impact on the British grand prix circuit this season, their first together and the nine-year-old Negro stallion’s first at top level. London will be their biggest challenge yet but they will definitely be ones to watch.

    Also a new face, albeit partnered by highly experienced team rider Emile Faurie, is that of Bellevue. Owned by Diana Rose, the 11-year-old Bordeaux mare has completed just a handful of grands prix in the short time since they teamed up at this level, but with strong scores so far and a fifth placing on their international debut at Kronenburg CDI earlier this month.

    British-based Irish team rider Abi Lyle is also making her LIHS debut, riding her world championships partner Giraldo. This is another pair who haven’t been out since August, but while they probably won’t finish at the sharp end, expect them to put in a determined, respectable performance, and have a lot of fun while doing so.

    London Horse Show: H&H dressage editor’s prediction

    The winner from the past two London Horse Shows – Charlotte Dujardin – may not be in action this year, being eight months pregnant, but I’m confident we’ll see a British winner this year in Lottie Fry. She and Glamourdale are set to bring the house down, and will be a real treat to watch performing their spectacular freestyle at the ExCeL.

    For me, second place will be a tussle between Gareth Hughes and Ingrid Klimke, but I think that Gareth and Briolinca’s experience and composure will edge it, handing them the runner-up spot and Ingrid and Franziskus in third. But it’s all to play for…

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