When Valegro met the Queen — plus more standout dressage memories from Royal Windsor

  • With the Windsor CDI3* – due to start today – being cancelled due to the coronavirus, we take a look back at some of the most exciting dressage moments from the Royal Windsor Horse Show over the years

    1. A seven-year-old Valegro, ridden by the then relatively unknown Charlotte Dujardin, scored 72.83% to win the potential international dressage horse class at Royal Windsor in 2009, narrowly beating Carl Hester and Uthopia.

    2. Later in 2009, Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas stunned European championship crowds, smashing their own world record by scoring 90.7% to win the grand prix freestyle gold medal for the Netherlands.

    “With ‘Totally Totilas’ — a compilation of classical music with a modern and dramatic spin — ringing out across Windsor Great Park the most extraordinary horse-and-rider combination ever seen in the sport of dressage produced a spectacular display,” read the H&H report at the time.

    Edward Gal and Totilas at the 2009 European Championships Totilas KWPN stallion show 2019

    3. The 2009 European Championships at Windsor marked a momentous occasion for British dressage as the team of Carl Hester, Emma Hindle, Maria Eilberg and Laura Bechtolsheimer beat Germany to take bronze. A 24-year-old Laura led the charge on Mistral Hojris, scoring 76.63% in the team test — the highest mark a British had ever achieved in an international grand prix.

    “We’re either in a parallel universe, or it’s the beginning of a new era, which is rather a good one,” wrote H&H’s Sarah Jenkins at the time.

    4. In 2014, international dressage returned to Windsor for the first time since the 2009 European Championships, with an invitational CDI3* grand prix and grand prix freestyle. But it was the superstar mare Woodlander Farouche who proved the talk of the crowd on the opening day of this year’s show, claiming the advanced medium freestyle with a whopping 84% — and a winning margin of nearly 10% — for Michael Eilberg.

    5. His 2015 grand prix victory with Nip Tuck will stick in Carl Hester’s mind. Carl’s score of 75.38% was 0.46% off his personal best at the time with the Don Ruto gelding, but he said: “This felt like a personal best. He’s matured so much and his canter felt phenomenal.”

    Even the doyenne of British dressage Jennie Loriston-Clarke, who was on bit-checking duty for the class, said to Carl emphatically: “Well done boy — you did well.”

    6. In 2018, dressage fans had their chance to see Charlotte Dujardin’s new star ride, Mount St John Freestyle, compete at top level on home soil for the first time. Charlotte and the Fidermark mare, then aged just nine, smashed the competition out of the water, with 81.21% securing them the freestyle title.

    7. The great Valegro dominated headlines in 2019 when he was introduced to the Queen at Royal Windsor.

    “Valegro manages to make everything very emotional as he always does, especially the way he looked at her and just didn’t move,” Carl told H&H. “The Queen was absolutely delightful, very chatty and pleasant. She’s very informed and she knows Valegro and loves him. She was very complimentary about him and asked what he was doing now in retirement.

    Valegro The Queen

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