Charlotte Dujardin claims first Olympia freestyle title since Valegro with huge +87% score

  • Charlotte Dujardin claimed her first Olympia grand prix freestyle since Valegro tonight (17 December) with a huge +87% score aboard Mount St John Freestyle.

    The pair followed up on Monday’s grand prix victory with a breath-taking performance to a soundtrack inspired by Disney’s Frozen.

    Charlotte and “Freestyle’s” performance treated the crowd to highlight after highlight, with top notes including a flawless double canter pirouette in front of the judges at A and a wow-factor dog-leg line of one-time changes.

    This is the triple Olympic gold medallist’s 10th win at the show— across both the grand prix and the kur — aboard four different horses and her first freestyle victory in the iconic Olympia exhibition hall since Valegro’s staggering 94.3% in 2014.

    “That’s her third ever freestyle, so she’s very inexperienced at doing the music and I was just really pleased,” said Charlotte, of Emma and Jill Blundell’s 10-year-old mare.

    “Going in there tonight, you could really feel the crowd — it felt even closer than last night. It’s quite a difficult floorplan and I just felt she really tried and listened to me.

    “As everybody knows, I’ve had my highs and my lows this year so for me it’s been great to end my year with such a good, positive ride.

    “Going forward for next year I’m really excited because I really do feel like every time I compete her, she does get better and better and there’s still so much more to come.

    She’s still a little bit green in areas, but it just takes time, confidence and that experience and that’s really why I’m doing the World Cup series to get her out in that arena a little bit more.”

    Carl Hester scored a personal best of 84.47% with Hawtins Delicato, who he co-owns with Lady Anne Evans and Ann Cory and Ben Neal, to take the runner-up spot. Lottie Fry was third with Van Olst Horses’ Everdale on 82.62% in a carbon copy of the British 1-2-3 from the previous evening.

    “What a difference a day can make,” smiled Carl. “You go from one day when the horse is unconfident to the next where he is totally rideable.”

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    He added the horse’s performance at the European Championships was “no way to finish a season” so was delighted to get a “nice, confident ride” to end the year.

    “I’ve always felt [Hawtins Delicato] is one of the best horses I’ve ever had, I just haven’t been able to get there yet,” he said.

    “That’s because mechanically he is so good — he has a good hindleg and walk, trot and canter. I’m still not getting the same in the ring as I’m getting at home, but hey, we all win medals at home — you have to turn it into a test situation.

    “It’s just so exciting to think there were five horses over 85% today and four of them are British [rides].”

    Lottie debuted a new freestyle, featuring the Kygo remix of Whitney Houston’s Higher Love and Rihanna’s Diamonds, to score 82.62%.

    “I don’t think it will probably sink in for quite a while,” she said. “I didn’t expect it to go quite like this — maybe in my dreams — but I’ve had an amazing few days and Everdale has done two personal bests.”

    Germany’s Frederic Wandres and Duke Of Britain finished close behind in fourth, on 82.55%, with Lara Butler and Rubin Al Asad completing the quintet breaking the 80% barrier in fifth on 81.54%.

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