Dujardin reclaims London laurels in all-British podium

  • Written By: British Dressage | Joanna Bowns
  • Published: Thu, 14 Dec 2023 23:59

Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep have dominated at this year's London International Horse Show, rising to an emphatic victory in tonight’s London CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by Bret Willson Dressage International Ltd and supported by Horse & Hound.

Continuing on from a win for Dujardin in yesterday’s Grand Prix, featuring a British one-two-three with Lottie Fry and Everdale and Becky Moody with Jagerbomb completing the podium, the top placings remained unchanged tonight as Britain’s leading ladies lit up the ExCel London arena for this fifth leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2023/2024 Western European League (13 – 18 December 2023).

Rounding off a phenomenal year for Dujardin, who since returning from maternity leave just seven months ago has ridden Imhotep to double wins at both Windsor CDI4* and Wellington CDI3* plus team gold and two individual bronzes at the European Championships in Riesenbeck, she posted a score of 89.465% to reclaim the London title won two years ago with her Tokyo ride, Gio.

Owned by Carl Hester and Coral Ingham, the springy chestnut Imhotep, pictured above, shows evergrowing power and presence with each appearance. Tonight, accompanied by their Tom Hunt-produced programme featuring music from the film Madagascar, Charlotte and 'Pete' brought their Riesenbeck magic to London with a complex freestyle full of personality.

Passage to piaffe pirouettes to passage half-pass, performed in model rhythm, set the scene; and the double pirouettes, half-passes and lines of changes were also amongst the plentiful highlights that featured throughout the duo's ride.

Charlotte told the LIHS; “It’s just so great to be back - I missed it so much last year! This is the show I look forward to every year. It’s just a magical show. Being around Christmas, the scenery, the set-up, the arena, the crowd, the support, the home crowd – you can’t put it in place anywhere else in the world. To be able to ride here and finish your year on a note that I have, is just fantastic.

“Yesterday, he felt a little bit nervous and then tonight he felt much better. I messed up the transitions at the beginning of my test in the freestyle, I kind of missed the rhythm, so I think that was my 90% [gone] to be honest, and I think as we got through the test, it got better and better.

“He’s done that test once before, in Riesenbeck,” she continued. “Again, being in an indoor atmosphere is totally different for him, so I’m so proud of him. He’s ten years old and I wasn’t even meant to be riding this year – that’s how crazy it is – I really didn’t think I’d even be back.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Charlotte added; “All of this is preparation for next year. You learn so much from what’s happened, whether he gets a little bit hot or a little bit nervous. I take that all away and that’s my extra tools in the box. I can now say ‘I’ve ticked that box’ and now know what I need to work on, and I think that’s what it’s all about – coming here and doing it, because you can’t create these atmospheres at home.

“When you’re warming up there’s no one around, then you go in and there are thousands of people in that arena and they (the horses) have got to then just perform. How amazing are they, to go into that sort of environment and do what we ask them to do! They’re incredible.”

Reflecting on her 2023, Charlotte concluded; “It’s been a very, very good year. I can’t ask for more. My number one is my little girl, Isabella. I’ve now got the family I’ve always wanted, and that is my everything. This is a bonus. To be able to do this is absolutely amazing, to be standing here, and to finish my year having team gold and two individual bronzes at the Europeans, I couldn’t ask for much more.”

Second place belonged to fellow British team rider Lottie Fry with her Tokyo partner and the father of Imhotep, Everdale (Lord Leatherdale x Negro), pictured above. Lottie, winner here last year with Glamourdale, closed the evening in spectacular style. Using London to debut Everdale’s brand-new freestyle programme, featuring a selection of hits by Pink, the duo threw down a score of 85.040% from the judges panel made up of Henning Lehrmann (GER) at E, Susanne Baarup (DEN) at H, Andrew Gardner (GBR) at C, Jacques van Daele (BEL) at M and Magnus Ringmark (SWE) at B.

Lottie and Van Olst Horses’ prolific breeding stallion relished the energy from the London crowd, and consistently strong elements to the performance, including ground-covering half passes and super tempi changes, had the judges reaching for the higher marks, with one 10 awarded for music and interpretation.

Lottie spoke to us about her new freestyle; “I absolutely love that freestyle. This is the first time I’ve ridden it - it was just ready last week - so it was all last minute, but so exciting.

“I think it’s so fun to ride to Moulin Rouge and Pink,” said Lottie, referring to her music that includes the singer-songwriter's collaborative hit Lady Marmalade. “A bit of a mix, but Everdale loved it. It’s probably one of the most fun tests I’ve ever ridden.

“He was loving it in there,” she continued. “He gives everything, every time he goes in the ring. He has the most incredible character and he loves to compete, he especially loves London,” she continued. “It’s amazing that [with] the atmosphere in there, all the horses love it, and it’s something you don’t experience anywhere else."

About her upcoming plans, Lottie added; “We’re probably going to go for a few more World Cup qualifiers – so straight on to Mechelen and Amsterdam.”

Competing at her first FEI Dressage World Cup qualifier, and their first trip to the London International Horse Show, Becky Moody made an impact breaking into the top three with her exciting young talent, Jagerbomb, pictured above. The duo, travelling reserves for the European Championships in Riesenbeck this summer, captured hearts with a joyfully performed programme accompanied by a collection of Tom Jones hits.

Completely at ease in the incredible atmosphere of this iconic Christmas show, Jagerbomb (Dante Weltino x Jazz) was piloted by Becky to 83.675%, beating their previous PB by 3.685%. At just nine years of age, Jagerbomb already looks very secure in the work, and so at home on the big occasion.

“It’s insane, it's an insane atmosphere in there and to have the support of that crowd behind you is pretty special, and I think Bomb (Jagerbomb) loved it too,” commented Becky afterwards. “It was an incredible experience.

“I am proud of him (Jagerbomb) beyond words,” she reflected. “Quite a lot of my support team have been in floods of tears because he’s just such a diamond. That’s the thing about him – he is just, across the board, the nicest horse. He’s great on the yard, he hacks out with the babies, he’s a proper gentleman - he’s amazing.”

When asked about her plans for 2024, Becky replied; “He is still young. Of course everybody is a little bit thinking ‘Paris’, but it’s a team of three. That’s a pretty tough one to crack because we have an incredible group of riders at the top, so we will be quietly thinking about that reserve space,” she smiled. “I just want to do the best for him, give him the best year that he can have.”

Lewis Carrier (26) and 15-year-old Diego V (by Spielberg) have impressed this week, achieving ninth place in yesterday’s Grand Prix, with 70.522%, before sitting comfortably inside the top ten in tonight’s Freestyle - an exciting achievement in itself, let alone for a combination relatively new to senior Grand Prix. Drawn first to go after the midway break, Lewis and his former Young Rider and U25 team ride posted a thrilling 76.195% to take the provisional lead and eventual seventh place on their London debut.

CDI-W Grand Prix
1. Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep, 81.761% (GBR)
2. Charlotte Fry and Everdale, 77.435% (GBR)
3. Becky Moody and Jagerbomb, 75.087% (GBR)
4. Denise Nekeman and Boston STH, 73.913% (NED)
5. Morgan Barbançon and Sir Donnerhall II OLD, 71.674% (NED)
6. Flore de Winne and Flynn FRH, 71.522% (BEL)
7. Alexandre Ayache and Jolene, 70.717% (FRA)
8. Kathleen Kröncke and Uniteds Maerchen, 70.695% (GER)
9. Lewis Carrier and Diego V, 70.522% (GBR)
10. Abigail Lyle and Giraldo, 70.217% (IRL)
11. Devenda Dijkstra and Hero, 70.152% (NED)
12. Caroline Chew and Blue Hors Zatchmo, 68.674% (SGP)
13. Grete Ayache and Vertigo, 67.935% (EST)
14. Jorinde Verwimp and Charmer, 67.044% (BEL)


CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle
1. Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep, 89.465% (GBR)
2. Charlotte Fry and Everdale, 85.040% (GBR)
3. Becky Moody and Jagerbomb, 83.675% (GBR)
4. Denise Nekeman and Boston STH, 79.415% (NED)
5. Morgan Barbançon and Sir Donnerhall II OLD, 77.025% (FRA)
6. Flore de Winne and Flynn FRH, 77.020% (BEL)
7. Lewis Carrier and Diego V, 76.195% (GBR)
8. Devenda Dijkstra and Hero, 75.950% (NED)
9. Caroline Chew and Blue Hors Zatchmo, 75.665% (SGP)
10. Alexandre Ayache and Jolene, 75.465% (FRA)
11. Abigail Lyle and Giraldo, 75.355% (IRL)
12. Jorinde Verwimp and Charmer, 74.425% (BEL)
13. Kathleen Kröncke and Uniteds Maerchen, 74.275% (GER)
14. Grete Ayache and Vertigo, 73.560% (EST)


Full interview with Charlotte Dujardin courtesy of LIHS/LloydBell Productions

Photo © FEI/Jon Stroud Media