‘A real one for Paris’: Aachen grand prix result boosts Charlotte Dujardin’s Olympic hopes

  • Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep boosted British hopes for the Paris Olympics when their smashing CDI5* grand prix test pushed the Tokyo 2020 champions Jessica von Bredow and TSF Dalera BB to the wire at Aachen CHIO. Runner-up Charlotte touted her world team silver medallist Imhotep as “getting better and better – he’s a real one for Paris”.

    “Imhotep is so fun to ride; he’s a ball of energy and has so many highlights,” said Charlotte, after scoring 79.78%. “His piaffe is one of the best and he’s the biggest mover I’ve ever sat on. For me it’s about trying to control the balance of what he produces. You could see at the worlds that it was all there, but a bit out of control.”

    Charlotte continued: “He wants to do everything so much bigger than he’s ready to do. So I’m trying to make it smaller and neater, but one day when I can let him do what he really wants to, he’s going to be really exciting.”

    Both Charlotte Dujardin on Imhotep and Lottie Fry on Everdale heaped the pressure on Jessica, but ultimately were just shaded into second and third respectively in a classy field. This grand prix result puts Britain in third in the Nations Cup behind Germany and Denmark ahead of the special and freestyle. Annabella Pidgley, 18, clocked Britain’s third counting score of 69.87% on Vamos Amigos.

    Aachen grand prix dressage: how it panned out

    Lottie grabbed the lead from the eventual fifth Frederic Wandres (Bluetooth Old) at the halfway stage with a super test on the van Olsts’ stallion  Everdale to strike a personal best of 78.91% at grand prix.

    Everdale came into an arena charged with atmosphere after Therese Nilshagen (Dante Weltino Old) had just moved into second spot, but the stallion kept his focus to produce a bold and mistake-free test. He looked both powerful and elastic, with particular highlights being his extended trot and canter, as well as his tempi changes. They started well with a string of eights, and the tempo never let up.

    “When I saw the list of entries, it’s basically a championship, the standard is so high,” said Lottie. “I know Everdale is capable but to be able to produce it all on the day and in the arena is another thing. I was a little emotional because he felt so amazing, and he’s been getting better and better all year.”

    Lottie held on to her lead until Charlotte’s test on Everdale’s 10-year-old son Imhotep, who was seven from the end of the 36-strong class. It was nip and tuck throughout, until Charlotte clinched the top spot with her oustanding pirouettes, which earned her a smattering of nines. In the final analysis, three of the five judges had Charlotte in second spot, but the two Brits’ scores were so close that she edged ahead of Lottie with 79.78% to ensure Imhotep’s joint-owner Carl Hester’s birthday was a happy one.

    “I told Carl the best present I could give him was to do him proud today, which I did,” Charlotte said.

    Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep take Olympic champion to the wire

    Dalera looked as if she might have blown her chance on the first centre line. The mare acted as if she had a fly on her hindleg and kicked out, so had some early ground to make up. But she quickly hauled back the lost marks, showing such elegance and lightness that by the second halt she was already trending in the lead. Her piaffes drew gasps of appreciation from the stands, with the final one yielding 9.6 for a total score of 82.30%. Amid cheers from her home crowd at the end, Jessica pumped her fist and hugged the mare.

    This was the first time Jessica has won in Aachen, and she admitted it was a different feeling being the target rather than chasing it. Although the mare is now 16, Jessica believes there’s still more to come.

    “In 2019, we were so happy to come third in the freestyle – we were only top five in the grand prix,” she said. “For me it’s not about winning, it’s about developing. It still feels like there’s room for improvement. I think I had the best grand prix so far except for the hiccup on the entrance. It’s kind of hyper energy, she just wants to continue, she can’t wait. But I don’t make a big thing of it.”

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