Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro smashed through their own grand prix record score this afternoon at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Lyon.
The British Olympic and European champions scored 87.129%, 1.187% more than their previous record of 85.942%, which they set at the European Championships in Herning last summer.
“He’s just getting stronger and stronger,” said Charlotte. “Every year you think that’s his maximum, there is no more, but every year it seems to be there is a bit more and a bit more.
“Obviously I’ve got such a great partnership with him, he gives me so much confidence that I can ride for that ultimate that I need.”
Charlotte had one tiny break of rhythm in her second piaffe, but that was the only wobble in her rock solid test.
She said: “It’s quite a big arena and when I rode him on the first day he was very, very hot, and I was a bit concerned he might be on edge, but when he comes down that centreline he knows his job.”
Defending World Cup title holder Helen Langehanenberg of Germany took 2nd on 83.343%. She gave her chestnut stallion Damon Hill NRW a big hug as she finished her excellent test.
“He loves to go to shows and the more people there are the happier he is,” she said. “Today we did a fluent test with lots of expression, but harmony as well.”
Helen admitted her early final halt was deliberate: “He was a bit excited and really wanted to passage, and I felt more and more energy and didn’t know which direction that could go in, so I decided to stop now!”
The Netherlands’ Edward Gal collected 3rd place with Glock’s Undercover, scoring 79.957%. His test was slightly marred by tension, which showed particularly in a lack of immobility in the first halt and a shortening of the canter before the one-time changes.
“He was really excited in the warm-up and, although he was better in the test, I couldn’t ride it as I hoped to ride it,” he said. “Hopefully he’s better tomorrow.”
Today’s results do not actually count towards the result of this World Cup final, but are used to determine the starting order for tomorrow’s freestyle. The freestyle winner is crowned the World Cup champion.
Charlotte will be debuting a new freestyle in the class, having ridden the patriotic routine devised for London 2012 for the final time when winning the World Cup qualifier at Olympia in December.
“I love my new music and the floorplan is quite cool — there’s an interesting bit at the end so hopefully I can pull it off,” she said. “For the first time I did it at home and Carl [Hester, her mentor] didn’t scream at me, so hopefully I can do the same tomorrow. I’m very excited to be doing it.”
Full report of the FEI World Cup finals in this week’s H&H, out Thursday, 24 April.