‘On fire – but slightly distracted’: battle royal between three superstars as Lottie Fry conjures moments of pure brilliance

  • Britain’s final rider Lottie Fry ensured a dramatic conclusion to the European Dressage Championships team competition at Riesenbeck, Germany. This championships has been billed as the showdown between the reigning world champion, Lottie’s ride Glamourdale, and the Tokyo Olympic champion TSF Dalera BB, ridden by Jessica von Bredow-Werndl.

    In fact, it is so much more than that, with Charlotte Dujardin’s rising superstar Imhotep giving the two older champions a serious run for their money. Glamourdale did indeed produce a personal best grand prix score, 81.26%, and the fact that it wasn’t met as much elation as the straight result might deserve is some measure of this horse’s brilliance. For there were moments early on during their test when it looked like they would claim the scalp of the mighty Dalera, and blast towards an incredible 85%.

    Third team rider Charlotte had already taken the lead, from compatriot Carl Hester (Fame) with Imhotep’s personal best grand prix score of 82.42%. When Dalera topped that two horses later, with her own personal best of 84.61%, Lottie needed to produce 78.71% for Britain to secure gold – well within her own top scores – and she did it with room to spare. It was Britain’s first team gold since London 2012, and their first European team gold since Rotterdam 2011.

    How Lottie Fry’s test at the European Dressage Championships played out

    Glamourdale entered the ring looking majestic, and immediately set the scoreboard alight as 87% flashed across, with a 10 for the entry from the judge at K, Kurt Christensen. Glamourdale’s early trotwork continued in similar vein, trending above Dalera. Now a 12-year-old, the Lord Leatherdale stallion has so much lift, so much presence, and the judges rewarded him with a string of dazzling scores.

    “He went in to a lot of applause, which was a little distracting,” said Lottie. “But he came in on fire, and was really exciting to ride. I think he had a few stallion-show vibes!”

    After starting with such sparkling intensity, Glamourdale just faltered a little in the rein-back and his marks dropped to 6.5 from the judge at C (Maria Colliander), engaging Jessica and Lottie in the battle royal every dressage fan was hoping for.

    “I think he was hearing something in the VIP tent which caught his attention, which was a shame as the rein-back is usually a good movement for him,” Lottie said.

    “He did so many amazing things in the test – some things which he has never done so well – but there were just a few little distractions. I could feel him looking slightly with his eyes outside, which is not usual for him.”

    The battle raged on between the two champions like a pulsating race to the winner’s post, with Glamourdale regaining the lead with his party piece, the extended canter, which earned him six 10s. There were four perfect 10s for the collected canter, too, and another couple for the one-time tempis.

    The pair were still trending on 82% as they came down the final centre line, which would have squeezed them in between Dalera and Imhotep, when his final piaffe ran out of oomph to score a couple of uncharacteristic fours. He finished third, behind the winner Dalera, and Imhotep in second.

    “A few small distractions, small noises caught his attention, but I am still excited to get a personal best, and I think I gave him a good ride,” said Lottie. “A lot of the work has improved so much to do that and do so many amazing things. And it was very hot, he was very hot – but when you’re in there you don’t think about anything else, not even how much you’re sweating!”

    ‘Tomorrow he will be more settled; I’m excited’

    The top moments were sublime, and to finish on such a score, in third behind two outstanding horses, with two errors, shows just how much more there is to come from this pair.

    “I’m really excited about the rest of the week,” said Lottie Fry of the European Dressage Championships special and freestyle, still to come. “Especially having been in there once. Tomorrow he will be more settled; he’s more secure in the special and he likes that test.”

    This is the first time Dalera and Glamourdale have met in competition since the very start of the latter’s grand prix career, and Lottie relishes more battles ahead.

    “I think it’s great sport to have these two horses, and Imhotep,” she said. “It’s not that we are really wanting the other to do badly, it’s more about what you can do well, concentrate on your own horse. It’s also so exciting that they are such different types of horses.”

    The first big battle did not disappoint – it was even more enthralling than fans could possibly have anticipated.

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