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Riders’ reflections on short grand prix to be used in World Cup series

It has been announced that the short grand prix test will be ridden throughout the 2021-2022 World Cup season, including at the final, held in Leipzig, Germany.

This floorplan, which includes just one extended trot, two piaffes and a shorter walk segment, but retains the canter zig-zag and rein-back, was piloted at Olympia in 2019, and was generally received positively by riders on the night. So what did they say about it?

Charlotte Dujardin, who won the class on 81.55% riding Mount St John Freestyle, was a fan.

“I really enjoyed riding that floorplan,” she told H&H. “Everything does come up very quickly, though – you’re always stopping, starting, turning – and you don’t have any short sides to use to set up movements. For example, the walk to canter straight into the zig-zag is very tight, so if you have a bad corner or the horse spooks you’d be in trouble. It was also really strange doing the zig-zig off the right rein, not the left as in the normal grand prix. But it flowed nicely.”

Carl Hester, who rode Hawtins Delicato to finish second on 75.79%, called the test, “a step in the right direction”.

“I liked it, even though everything happens very quickly. It has all the right thing in it, like the rein-back, but we just don’t need three extended trots, that’s for sure. I think it’s a lot nicer to watch.”

Gareth Hughes was first into the arena riding KK Woodstock, and finished 10th. He also praised the test, although cautioned that greener horses may struggle because of the speed at which the movements come up.

“The more seasoned horses will find it easier, but anything less experienced, like my guy, do need those short sides — he was quite startled by it.”

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One British grand prix horse who is far from inexperienced is Rubin Al Asad, who has been campaigned very successfully on the international grand prix circuit by Lara Butler for several years. But Lara pointed out that “Rufus” had quite a shock by the change to the programme.

“As a completely new test it is hard when you’ve been used to the same grand prix for so many years,” said Lara. “Rufus knows what he is doing so well, but then we turned the other way and he thought, ‘What?’”

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