World Dressage Championships: who is going to bring home the medals?

  • It’s been seven years since Germany was beaten in the team competition at a major dressage championship. In the years since the 2015 Europeans, when the Netherlands claimed victory in Aachen, Germany has started every championship as favourites, and gone on to deliver the goods. But there is everything to suggest things will be different among the World Dressage Championships riders in Herning this year.

    Denmark have never yet won a team gold medal in dressage. But if it’s ever going to happen, it will be now at the Blue Hors FEI World Dressage Championships, buoyed by a home crowd and the strongest Danish line-up yet. One rider emerges as the standout favourite, and you’d be a fool to bet against Cathrine Dufour taking home her first-ever gold medal at the Herning World Championships. It has recently been confirmed that Cathrine is set to ride the younger of her two fantastic horses, the 10-year-old Vamos Amigos, but he has already shown that he has what it takes to be a world-beater.

    Germany will still need to be beaten, of course, but while the Danish combinations who proved so exciting in 2021 are on track to reach their peak in 2022, this is a new-look German side, with last year’s biggest guns – namely Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Isabell Werth’s two top mares – leaving holes. It’s opened the door for Jessica’s brother, Benjamin Werndl, and Frederic Wandres to take a well-deserved team slot each. Both will make their mark, but there’s no doubt Germany has lost a little of its clout.

    Will Britain win a medal?

    And what of the British dressage team’s chances? There’s no question that they have been dented by the absence of Carl Hester – for the first time since 2008 – after his Olympic and European medallist En Vogue suffered an injury in the spring. But even without Carl, Britain will field a strong, if unpredictable, team in Herning, and on paper, if average grand prix scores from 2022 are totted up across the top nations, Britain look set for silver. In reality, a medal of any colour would be a fantastic achievement, but this team will be aiming high.

    Three of the four will ride championship rookies, but in Gareth Hughes and Classic Briolinca, the team boasts one of Britain’s best grand prix combinations of recent years. This pair were the best of the Brits at the 2019 Europeans, and Gareth reports the mare is feeling better than ever following her long rehab from injury during 2021.

    It must be remembered that Charlotte Dujardin’s ride, the nine-year-old Imhotep, only made his grand prix debut this year. The Everdale gelding shows remarkable talent, but whether he can bring this to the fore in Herning is far from certain. However, the same could be said for Charlotte and 2021 championship debutante Gio as they set off for Tokyo, only to come home with double bronze. Underestimate Charlotte at your peril!

    But this year’s star British performers could well be Lottie Fry and the stallion everyone has been waiting to see on a championship team, Glamourdale. The 26-year-old rider will have the eyes of the world trained firmly on her as she and “Glammy” take to the stage. Individual medals might appear a stretch on Glammy’s championship debut, but if this breathtaking stallion can bring his best, it’s hard to identify many horses who could beat him.

    The Netherlands, too, are a major player heading to Herning without the riders who have carried the team through much of the past decade, Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhoud. But don’t be fooled, the Dutch side could well end up on the podium, led by rising star Dinja van Liere.

    Similarly, the USA will be without Tokyo Olympics sensation Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo. Despite this, a team medal is very possible and if Adrienne Lyle and Salvino can produce their best, individual medals could come their way, too.

    World Dressage Championships: medal predictions

    World Dressage Championship riders medal predictions

    World Dressage Championships riders: key favourites

    Cathrine Dufour

    Herning looks set to be Cathrine Dufour’s championship. On home soil, in front of an adoring Danish crowd, it will take a lot for anyone else to beat this popular and talented rider to the top of the podium. It has just been confirmed that Cathrine will not ride her European silver medallist Bohemian, but instead the younger, British-owned, Vamos Amigos, with whom she was runner-up to Jessica von Bredow-Werndl at the World Cup Final in April. With both horses posting consistent plus-80% scores this year, it wouldn’t have mattered who she chose to ride – Cathrine will most definitely be the one to beat.

    Lottie Fry

    Two of the most talked-about horses and World Dressage Championships riders this year, Lottie and Glamourdale have proved they are worthy of the hype. This stallion is as talented as he is eye-catching and Lottie rides him with incredible poise. Both horse and rider are at their best on the biggest occasions; this will be their toughest test so far, but they could come home with a medal.

    Adrienne Lyle

    Adrienne and her stallion Salvino have had an up and down summer so far, having been eliminated at Aachen under blood rules. They were not quite at their best at Tokyo, though still helped the USA win team silver, but in between the blips their record is seriously strong. As one of just a handful of combinations in Herning to have scored over 80% in the grand prix special, they would certainly be in with a shout of an individual medal if all goes to plan for them.

    Carina Cassøe Krüth

    This elegant Danish rider and her equally elegant mare Heiline’s Danciera won over hearts in Tokyo and this could be their chance to up their game and really challenge for a medal. The freestyle is where they shine, and they have numerous mid-80% results to date in this test. With the added oomph of a home crowd, don’t be surprised to see Carina creep onto an individual podium.

    Frederic Wandres

    British dressage fans might know Frederic’s charismatic chestnut gelding Duke Of Britain well, not just from his victory at Olympia in 2018, but also because he was bred in Britain by the Pidgley family. He and Frederic have gone from strength to strength over the past few years and, finally, have made it onto the seemingly impenetrable German national team. They’ll arrive in Herning on a high, following a great performance at CHIO Aachen, where they were second behind Cathrine Dufour in every test. Will that result be replicated in Herning?

    Dinja van Liere

    The Dutch team is without big-hitters Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhoud this year, but this lady is proving herself as the new Dutch star. After an administrative error resulted in Dinja being denied a place on the Tokyo team, she and the 10-year-old Easy Game stallion Hermes have produced a flurry of impressive results over the winter, with consistently high grand prix scores that promise to elevate this Dutch side up the leaderboard.

    Charlotte Dujardin

    This is Charlotte’s ride Imhotep’s first season at top level. He has had just two international outings, with improving scores, and certainly shows potential for plenty more. It’s tough to gauge how they might perform, but this is a mega-talented young horse with one of the world’s best on his back – they could be very impressive. 

    • For Horse & Hound’s full preview of the Herning World Championships, see 28 July edition of the magazine – order your copy online

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