Peter Storr: Valegro’s in a class of his own *H&H VIP*

  • Charlotte Dujardin’s mistake in the first trot half-pass in the special was uncharacteristic, but she did well to bring her marks back up after such an expensive error.

    Valegro is in a different league to the rest. He was his normal, easy-going, laid-back self — you never have to worry about him being tricky in the atmosphere. He’s always 100% with Charlotte.

    His grand prix was more or less foot perfect and the highlights included the extended trots and one-time changes.

    Carl Hester improved massively from the grand prix to the special, when he had Nip Tuck more onside. He didn’t give Carl an easy ride in the grand prix. The mega spook was expensive as he was punished in both the passage and the extended walk marks.

    Carl rides masterfully — he’s so accurate and picks up marks on all the fiddly bits like the halts and pirouettes. It was a shame that “Barney” spooked at the cameras coming out of the second pirouette in the special, lost balance and changed leg. This pair were not alone in having problems in this movement — a lot of horses made mistakes when spooking.

    It was unfortunate that a dodgy moment in the piaffe brought Fiona Bigwood’s score down in the special as that movement is usually a highlight. But there was much to like in both tests.

    Spencer raised his game from the grand prix to the special — the horse looked a lot more in front of him the second time and he was really connected to the contact, which has been a problem in the past. Spencer must have been annoyed he miscounted and only did 13 one-time changes as they were lovely changes.

    Germany’s Isabell Werth showed steely nerves and complete composure. She had a foot-perfect test on a little mare who is not the scopiest, but is so obedient and willing.

    Shouty aids

    Many riders made mistakes in the special, which shows the pressure was on. I was worried the US riders were going to lose their bronze, which would have been a shame.
    They all ride beautifully but underperformed a little in the special, bar Laura Graves, who is a lovely rider. Verdades has a great heart and really tries for her.

    Steffen Peters was disappointing in the special and was generously scored considering his performance. Legolas clearly didn’t want to play and was disobedient at times; some of the extensions were not always in balance and Steffen appeared to have to shout the aids at him throughout the test. Johnson, for the Dutch team under Hans Peter Minderhoud, also looked grumpy and had to be strongly persuaded to perform.

    The judging was fairly spot on otherwise. There was some surprise that Desperados FRH received top marks when he was not completely regular in passage, but I’d like to clarify that the judges’ positions of view make a big difference.

    The judges in front of him — at C, M and H, will see high front legs, perfect straightness and a beautiful uphill outline. The judges at B and E will see something different and mark him down, but the average will come out as a good score.

    I picked out two pairs to watch for the future. Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour is a beautiful rider who is sensitive with her horse, Cassidy. Spain’s Severo Jurado López also impressed, on the expressive Lorenzo.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 18 August 2016