‘I didn’t know how it was going to go’: Charlotte Dujardin makes triumphant return to competition at Royal Windsor

  • Charlotte Dujardin has made a winning return to competition following her baby break, claiming a convincing grand prix victory at the Royal Windsor Horse Show today (10 May). Having got back in the saddle just three weeks ago, after giving birth to daughter Isabella in early March, Charlotte posted 77.26% to comfortably lead the field.

    Charlotte, who last competed at the National Dressage Championships in September, made her comeback aboard Imhotep, her team silver medallist from the 2022 World Dressage Championships. The 10-year-old Everdale son, owned by Carl Hester and Coral Ingham and known as Pete, has also had a lengthy spell away from the competition arena, having not competed since the world championships last August.

    But the pair looked to have lost none of their pizazz, with a high-energy, expressive test, and Charlotte was visibly excited to be back between the white boards.

    “Windsor is one of the best shows, and it feels amazing to be back.  I haven’t done anything for eight months since the nationals and I’ve only been back on board three weeks; I got back on and thought, ‘Have I still got it? Can I still do it?’,” admitted Charlotte.

    “I didn’t know how it was going to go. I knew Pete would be a bit ring rusty – and he is still such a green grand prix horse. He got here and was so hot, and then he saw the Household Cavalry and it blew his mind,” she said. “But I love that horse so much; he has so much energy, but he’s so constant with his energy and he never uses it against you. Even when he’s nervous he tries to keep going to the best of his ability.

    “I just wanted to give him a nice time in there, and I think I went a bit underpowered, and I maybe rode the canter work a bit too collected so then I got too much airtime and he didn’t cover the ground, but there’s just little things. That’s why I need to be back test riding,” added Charlotte, who confirmed that she is aiming for the European Dressage Championships with Pete, this September.

    It was a last-minute decision to come to Royal Windsor after all, Charlotte explained.

    “I got back on and felt amazing, and so last week Carl said to me, ‘You should’ve done Windsor’. So I thought, ‘Well, can I still get into Windsor’, and here I am,” Charlotte laughed.

    Second behind Charlotte Dujardin in the Royal Windsor grand prix was her 2022 teammate Gareth Hughes, who scored 75.43% with Classic Briolinca, ahead of Emile Faurie in third aboard Bellevue, on 71.83%.

    The grand prix freestyle takes place tomorrow evening (Thursday, 11 May) at Royal Windsor.

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