Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro continued their phenomenal Festival of Dressage form as they premiered their new Olympic Grand Prix Freestyle to storm their class with a score of over 90% at last night’s sell-out gala evening.
After claiming double gold at the London Olympics 2012 with a patriotic-themed freestyle, treble dressage world record holders Charlotte and Valegro have opted for a new piece of music with a distinct Rio carnival feel as they bid for medal success with the rest of Team GB at this year’s games in Rio.
Performing their brand new routine – Charlotte’s seventh test of the day – during the packed gala evening, the pair wowed the 1000-strong crowd and the five judges with a spellbinding test in Hartpury’s international indoor arena. As the last to go, the spectators were kept waiting but they were not disappointed as the score came in for 90.625% – an amazing 17% ahead of second place. It followed a similarly sublime performance from the dazzling dressage duo on Friday, when they clinched the summit spot in the Grand Prix.
Second place went to Henriette Anderson with Warlocks Charm, with a touch of Vanilla Ice in their music they kept their cool to come in for 73.875%. Roland Tong and Rybrook Ambience came in just behind them for 73.325% to take a podium spot for Ireland.
Dujardin also won the other class of the night, the Elite Stallions Young Horse Prix St George Championship. Having won the qualifying class earlier in the week, Charlotte on Hawtins Delicato – owned by Ann Corry and her mentor and Hartpury equine academy coach, Carl Hester – scooped the top spot with 76.62%.
As in that qualifying class, Sonnar Murray-Brown and Erlentanz came in on 75.31% for second. Changing the order though, Michael Eilberg and SA Couer impressed the judges for 72.24% to claim third.
The gala evening also saw an informative and fun demonstration from Charlie and Abi Hutton. The evening was rounded off with a chat with Carl Hester while waiting for the prizegiving for the Grand Prix. Informing the crowds about he and Charlotte’s final preparations for Rio, he also mentioned how important Hartpury has been in their build-up.
Carl, who won team gold with Team GB at London 2012, said: “There is a complete Equine Therapy Centre here, which is incredible. We use the water treadmill here and I think it is an amazing way of getting horses fit. Another thing from the competitors point of view is that we are blessed with amazing surfaces at Hartpury. There are not many places in the world that can boast these facilities, so I would like to say thank you to Hartpury for hosting.”