Charlotte Dujardin wins London Horse Show grand prix as riders praise new short test

  • Charlotte Dujardin scored a resounding win on the first day of the London Horse Show dressage, posting 82.55% in the short grand prix, supported by Horse & Hound, aboard her Olympic and European championship partner Gio.

    Charlotte and “Pumpkin”, who is now owned by Annabella Pidgley, finished well clear of the rest of the field with Charlotte saying that she was “absolutely over the moon” with the test.

    There was a battle for second place at the London International Horse Show, with the three riders placed below Charlotte all scoring within 0.7% of one another. In second was Germany’s Frederic Wandres with the British-bred Dimaggio son Duke Of Britain with 75.16%. They were winners at Olympia in 2018 and are the current leaders of the Western European league in the FEI Dressage World Cup.

    “I was the last competitor so there’s always then a bit of pressure on, but Duke Of Britain is known to be a consistent horse,” said Frederic. “I had a small interruption in the two tempi changes but that’s it; all the other things he was delivering on point.”

    Frederic Wandres and Duke Of Britain at the London International Horse Show 2021

    Frederic Wandres and Duke Of Britain at the London International Horse Show

    Just behind Frederic was Denmark’s Nanna Skodberg Merrald riding the former British Olympic horse Atterupgaards Orthilia. The 16-year-old Gribaldi mare won team silver at the Rio Olympics with Britain’s Fiona Bigwood, and added to her medal tally this year, helping the Danish team to bronze at the Europeans in Hagen. She and Nanna posted 75.1% here, to finish just ahead of Britain’s Lottie Fry. Lottie piloted her own and the Van Olsts’ Zucchero son Dark Legend to 74.53%.

    “That felt like the best [test] he’s ever done, apart from the piaffes where we had some small issues, small misunderstandings,” said Lottie of the 13-year-old gelding. “But apart from that he really felt amazing in there. He was really brave and trying to show off, which was really nice as he can be super nervous.”

    This is the second time a short grand prix test has been used at the London Horse Show, with a version having been trialled at Olympia in 2019. The floorplan has since been updated and was generally well received by riders.

    “I actually think it is a really good test,” said Britain’s Lara Butler, who finished eighth with Kristjan. “It presents almost more challenges than the actual grand prix because of it being shortened; you have to be so much more on the ball. But we riders ride the grand prix over and over and over again, so actually it is quite good to throw us into doing something different and giving something else a go.”

    Gareth Hughes said that he felt this test acted as a good precursor to the freestyle that follows tomorrow evening, and pointed out that the shorter test is more of a challenge for those with more forward-going horses.

    “Everything comes up so quick and you have very little time to prepare – that’s the big thing,” he said, after his seventh-place finish with KK Dominant. “For an inexperienced horse it can be a bit of a shock for them because everything comes up quick and it’s quite unexpected, but once you get into the flow it is the same as anything. I mean, riding a grand prix is really hard, and we get used to the grand prix test, so, I think once we get used to this, it will be fine.”

    The London Horse Show dressage continues tomorrow (17 December) with the grand prix freestyle kicking off at 7.30pm.

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