Charlotte Dujardin leads impressive British performance at Hagen CDI4* *H&H Plus*

  • Charlotte Dujardin triumphs over Germany’s best at Hagen CDI4*, while Lottie Fry debuts her latest superstar stallion

    “SMALL but mighty” was how Charlotte Dujardin described Gio, her diminutive international star in the making, winner of the grand prix freestyle.

    The same could be said of the British contingent at Hagen. The foursome – Charlotte, Carl Hester, Lottie Fry and Sonnar Murray-Brown – made a big impression, kicking off their Tokyo Olympic campaign with a clear message: Britain means business.

    Charlotte dominated at her first show on foreign soil for more than a year, proving that the world stage is where she belongs. After finishing a close second with Mount St John Freestyle in the grand prix special qualifier, less than a percentage point behind Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and her European team gold and individual bronze medallist Dalera BB, the British Olympian came out all guns blazing to head the evening finale.

    “The horses had a 20-hour trip here and Freestyle was a little tired for the grand prix,” she said of Emma Blundell’s 12-year-old Fidermark mare. “I didn’t push and maybe sat a bit quiet in the piaffes, so we were just pipped.

    “I upped my game for the special and Freestyle felt fresher,” added Charlotte, who scored 82.87% to relegate Jessica to second and Germany’s Isabell Werth and her eye-catching stallion DSP Quantaz to third. “She was a pleasure to ride.”

    But 16hh Gio produced the biggest surprise, stepping up for his foreign debut. The 10-year-old Apache gelding, known as “Pumpkin”, led the freestyle qualifier before taking the freestyle with 84.04% – ahead of Germany’s Frederic Wandres riding Duke Of Britain, and Danish rider Nanna Skodborg Merrald with Blue Hors Zack.

    “Everyone loved Pumpkin; he had so many compliments,” said Charlotte, who blamed herself for an error in the one-times. “He is stronger than last year; the lockdown did him a favour. In the trot-up, it felt as if he was a pony among all those huge horses, but he tries his heart out.”

    Carl, competing overseas for the first time since the 2019 European Championships, was happy with a confidence-boosting 10th in the grand prix special with Charlotte’s Jazz gelding En Vogue. He also secured his qualification for the Tokyo Olympics, as did Charlotte with Gio.

    “Vogue is an extremely capable horse,” said Carl, who ranks the 12-year-old among the best he has ever ridden. “We’ve been doing a lot of clean grands prix, but we had two errors.

    “What’s encouraging is that the test got better towards the end,” he added. “While Vogue lives on his nerves a bit, if he trusts you he’ll have a go. By the last centre line he was kicking out eights and nines.”

    Meanwhile, they may have lost a few marks due to excitement and inexperience, but Anne van Olst’s stallions Glamourdale and Everdale gave Lottie Fry plenty of scores to celebrate.

    “This was Glamourdale’s first international grand prix, but he felt like a top grand prix horse,” said Lottie, who rode the 10-year-old to fifth place in the grand prix special with 76.4%. “I was pleased with the piaffe-passage and trot half-passes.

    “Everdale was a little too excited to be back out, but the evening freestyle was one of the best he has done,” she added, after finishing fourth with 81.77%.

    Despite a couple of misunderstandings between Sonnar Murray-Brown and his Latimer gelding Erlentanz, the pair finished 15th in the freestyle qualifier.

    “It wasn’t the score we wanted, but Erly regained concentration to deliver some pleasing work in the ring,” said Sonnar, who achieved a top-10 place in the final. “There was a big atmosphere under the lights, even without a crowd, and Erly is quite sensitive. It’s just the mileage we need now, so the experience was invaluable.”

    This report can also be read in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 29 April

    • Who do you think will make the British squad for the Olympics and the Europeans? And what medals do you think they’ll bring home from this year’s championships? Share your predictions by writing to hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name and nearest town, for the chance to feature on the letters page in a future issue of H&H magazine

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