Glamourdale v Dalera: who will come out on top in European Championships showdown?

  • The 2023 European Dressage Championships are approaching and with it the hotly-awaited showdown between the world’s two leading dressage horses: reigning world champion Glamourdale, ridden by Britain’s Lottie Fry, and reigning Olympic and European champion TSF Dalera BB, ridden by Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl.

    Dalera is the mare that carried Jessica to five gold medals in 2021 – team gold at both the Tokyo Olympics and 2021 European Championships, and individual golds at both championships too.

    But while Jessica was taking a break from competition in 2022 to have her second child, Lottie and Glamourdale rose to the top of the world stage in spectacular style, winning double individual gold at the World Dressage Championships, and leading Britain to team silver.

    The Europeans will not be the first time these two combinations have met in international grand prix competition; they both competed at Hagen CDI4* in April 2021. On that occasion Dalera came out ahead of Glamourdale in both the grand prix and the special. However, Hagen was Glamourdale’s first ever international grand prix show, whereas the older and more experienced Dalera had been competing at the level for over three years at that point.

    So, with Hagen 2021 not providing a fair comparison of these two wonderful horses’ abilities and attributes, all eyes will be on Riesenbeck, Germany, next week to witness their first meeting since both reaching gold medallist status.

    What makes these two horses so interesting is how different they are. Glamourdale, a mighty powerhouse of a stallion, and Dalera, an epitime of elegance and grace, are without a doubt two of the best dressage horses the world has ever seen. Each brings very different qualities and talents to the table – and it’s that fact that will make their duel all the more enticing.

    So, which one will emerge victorious in Riesenbeck? We have sifted the stats and crunched the numbers to bring you our predictions…

    TSF Dalera BB

    Age: 16yo
    Breeding: Easy Game x Handryk
    Owner: Béatrice A. Buerchler-Keller
    Breeder: Silke Druckenmüller

    European Dressage Championships Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB

    Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB en route to triple gold at the European Dressage Championships 2021

    Dalera’s career-best international scores

    Grand prix: 84.38% (Tokyo Olympic Games 2021)
    Grand prix special: 84.77% (Kronberg CDI4*, Germany 2021)
    Grand prix freestyle: 91.73% (Tokyo Olympic Games 2021)

    Dalera’s 2023 competition record

    Basel CDIW, Switzerland, January – 1st grand prix (83.46%); 1st freestyle (90.8%)
    World Cup Final, USA, April – 1st grand prix (79.92%); 1st freestyle (90.48%)
    Aachen CDIO5*, Germany, June – 1st grand prix (82.3%); 1st special (81.02%); 1st freestyle (90.82%)

    Grand prix highlights

    Highest-scoring movements (average marks): piaffe-passage transitions (8.98); piaffe (8.93); passage (8.52)
    Lowest-scoring movement: collected walk (6.63)


    Age: 12yo
    Breeding: Lord Leatherdale x Negro
    Owner: Van Olst Horses
    Breeder: Joop Rodenberg

    World Dressage Championships results

    Lottie Fry and Glamourdale in the team test at the World Dressage Championships.

    Glamourdale’s career-best scores

    Grand prix: 80.84% (Herning World Championships 2022)
    Grand prix special: 82.5% (Herning World Championships 2022)
    Grand prix freestyle: 91% (London Excel CDIW 2022)

    Glamourdale’s 2023 competition record

    ’s-Hertogenbosch CDIW, Netherlands, March – 1st grand prix (79.83%); 1st freestyle (86.84%)
    Fontainebleau CDI5%, France, April – 1st grand prix (79.94%); 1st freestyle (89.36%)
    Kronenberg CDI3*, Netherlands, July – 1st grand prix (79.54%); 1st special (81.09%)

    Grand prix highlights

    Best-scoring movements (average marks): extended canter (9.35); two-tempi changes (8.77); trot half-pass (8.53)
    Lowest-scoring movement: extended walk (6.91)

    Glamourdale v Dalera: analysis

    Dalera has scored higher than Glamourdale in all three grand prix level tests, particularly so in the technical tests – the grand prix and the special – while their top scores for the freestyle are much closer. However, it’s worth noting that all three of Dalera’s personal bests came in 2021, whereas Glamourdale’s were last year, perhaps indicating that Dalera has dropped slightly from her all-time peak.

    That said, Dalera was off games for much of 2022, and both horses have come similarly close to matching their best scores in 2023.

    It’s also worth noting that, as you might expect from horses partnered by such talented and professional riders, both have tended to hit their peak at championships, meaning you can expect both to be at their best in Riesenbeck.

    Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB win the Dressage World Cup Final grand prix

    When it comes to comparing their marks within tests, it gets even more interesting. Across the 20 different movements that feature in the grand prix, Dalera’s average mark is higher than Glamourdale’s in 15 of them. She has also recorded higher marks in four of the seven movements that are marked using a double co-efficient – meaning they are worth double marks – including the piaffe, which features more frequently in a test than any other double-marked movement (three times).

    However, Glamourdale’s average mark for his best movement – that extraordinary extended canter – is higher than for Dalera’s, the piaffe-passage transitions. Glamourdale also outscores Dalera in his lowest-scoring movement, the extended walk, compared to her lowest-scoring, the collected walk. In fact, the collected walk is where he holds most sway over Dalera – his marks for this (also double-marked) movement are, on average, 1.45 higher.

    Can Glamourdale beat Dalera at the Europeans?

    So, what does all this actually mean? Well, it would indicate that Dalera is the more likely horse of the two to come out on top in the technical tests – the grand prix and the special – where moves like piaffe and passage are responsible for a large proportion of the total marks available.

    But, in the freestyle, where each movement receives just one mark, and riders have the freedom to show off their horses’ best qualities in creative ways, Glamourdale could well defeat Dalera.

    Freestyles have an extra component in the artistic marks, for rhythm, harmony, choreography, degree of difficulty and music. Dalera scores slightly higher in all but rhythm, but she has performed her current freestyle routine more times than Glamourdale has done his, meaning it is not a fair comparison.

    World Dressage Championships results Lottie Fry and Glamourdale

    Lottie Fry and Glamourdale complete their plus-90% freestyle at the World Dressage Championships.

    The other crucial factor to consider is that Dalera, at 16 years old, is nearing the end of her top-level career, while Glamourdale could be said to be just getting started. It means that averages of their scores so far should be taken with a significant pinch of salt; Glamourdale is in his third season, while Dalera is in her sixth.

    It means that Glamourdale, whose career is currently on an undeniably upward trajectory, is more likely to produce his highest scores to date in Riesenbeck – and they could well be beyond Dalera’s best.

    But don’t forget – while Glamourdale and Dalera are the hot favourites for the two individual gold medals up for grabs in Riesenbeck, neither will have it easy as they’ll also be faced with the likes of Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin on Imhotep, and Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald with Blue Hors Zepter.

    The competition is set to sizzle at these championships, and with the Paris Olympics just round the corner, there’s all to play for.

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