Danish rider Nanna Skodberg Merrald’s London Horse Show dressage debut ended in heart-wrenching style, when she and the brilliant mare Atterupgaards Orthilia were eliminated from the grand prix freestyle under blood rules.
Nanna and Orthilia, the Gribaldi mare ridden to team silver by Britain’s Fiona Bigwood at the Rio Olympics, produced a fabulous performance, with their trending score sitting around the 80% mark by the latter stages. They had just ridden their final halt when head judge Stephen Clarke stepped out of his judges’ hut at C, to tell Nanna that blood had been spotted around the mare’s mouth, resulting in elimination for the pair.
“She did a really good test. I think maybe it was my best freestyle so far,” Nanna told H&H. “She was really good, but very tense today, and it can happen. I think she bit herself up around the nose band [on the inside of the mouth].
“I was really pleased; it is such a shame,” the 28-year-old rider added. “But that’s how it is sometimes. I didn’t recognise [the blood] at all, but it was definitely there.”
The pair had great success on the first day of London Horse Show dressage competition, finishing third in the short grand prix, behind Charlotte Dujardin and Frederic Wandres.
Nanna, who rides for the prestigious Blue Hors stud in Denmark, piloted 16-year-old Orthilia on the Danish bronze medal winning team at the European Dressage Championships in Hagen, Germany, in September this year. She also rode on the team at the Tokyo Olympics in July, with her other grand prix horse Blue Hors Zack. She and Orthilia have already enjoyed success on the World Cup circuit this winter, with second place at the Lyon CDIW in October.
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