Gloucestershire dressage rider breaks British freestyle record
CHARLOTTE DUJARDIN and her horse Valegro lit up the Festival of Dressage at Hartpury on Saturday night when becoming the first British partnership to break the 90% barrier in international competition.
Charlotte scored 90.65% to beat the previous British record of 87.6% set in April by her Olympic team-mate Laura Bechtolsheimer.
The Newent-based rider was performing her new freestyle display at the Hartpury CDI*** with some music specifically composed for the routine by Tom Hunt.
She could not have had a better send-off for the London Olympics as she mesmerised the crowd and the judges aboard Valegro.
Pirouettes to the chimes of Big Ben and piaffe to the theme tune of ‘The Great Escape’ led to her receiving a standing ovation.
The routine was error-free as can be seen from the judges’ marks: four of the five officials awarded artistic marks of more than 93%, including an unprecedented 97% from Eduard De Wolff Van Westerorode (NED) at B, while Poland’s Wojteck Markowski awarded one of his highest ever scores from C.
British ‘O’ judge Andrew Gardner, who judged at M, said: “It was breathtaking. For a judge to be able to award a 10 for such a range of movements from piaffe to extended trot endorses the calibre of the talent that we have in front of us.”
Hester was understandably delighted. “They nailed it,” he said. “All the practice at home has paid off and I feel we have a true Olympic calibre freestyle that the whole nation can be proud of.
“There’s a little bit more tweaking to be done, but roll on Greenwich – we’ll be ready.”
Bechtolsheimer, from Ampney St Peter, chose not to enter the competition, performing a training demo with commentary instead.
Her results this year have continued to be excellent but she has now probably been usurped by Dujardin as our leading individual gold medal hope.
Back in April, 25-year-old Dujardin smashed the previous world record for the grand prix special discipline in Hagen, Germany with a mark of 88.022%.
With the news that the world’s most expensive dressage horse, Totilas, and Matthias Rath have pulled out of the Games as the German rider has glandular fever, chances of a clutch of medals for the in-form GB team of Hester, Bechtolsheimer and Dujardin have improved still further.