Fry cruises to pole position in London CDI-W Short Grand Prix
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The precursor to Friday’s CDI-W freestyle finale boasted no less excitement as current world champions Charlotte Fry and Glamourdale topped a 15-strong field of world class combinations.
Formula 1 has the sprint race and dressage has the Short Grand Prix, but the length of the test detracts none from the quality of the spectacle as the audience at ExCel were treated to a high-octane opening round at the London CDI-W.
Reigning world champions Lottie Fry and Glamourdale made their presence felt on their return to the arena for the first time following their success in Herning. As the penultimate combination to go, the audience beating the transport and weather woes were treated to an impressive performance as the Van Olst’s showcase stallion was presented on British soil for the first time. Displaying all of the quality, balance and power that won them a place in the history books this summer, the highlights and the high marks were plentiful. The judges panel of Peter Storr (GBR), Magnus Ringmark (SWE), Susanne Baarup (DEN), Stephen Clarke (GBR) and Jacques Van Daele (BEL) rewarded a new personal best score for the combination in this test, a winning 84.026%.
Speaking at the FEI press conference Lottie said, "I guess there was quite a lot of pressure considering how the FEI World Championships went but I know he loves these atmospheres. The arena here is incredible, I felt a lot of excitement about coming to show him in England for the first time and we both loved it. It went amazing, I was hoping it would be amazing - when I go in the arena he gives me, I haven't felt that since Herning in the competition arena and it's an incredible feeling."
Second place belonged to fellow British team combination Gareth Hughes with his own, wife Rebecca and Julia Hornig’s Classic Briolinca. The popular pairing also brought their Herning form to the London arena, channeling the same performance that delivered them a career best fifth place on the final day of competition at the FEI World Championships. Here they showed great precision, control and an enviable technical ability across the complete range of movements to score 78.263%.
Gareth was quick to offer praise to team mate Lottie, with plenty of credit for his dancing partner Briolinca too: "I thought I'd done a good job until Lottie rode it! Do you know what, I've been doing this for a long time now and I think with what Lottie has achieved this year, and what Charlotte's achieved, we've got such a bright future in this country. Those two are going to be the centre of our teams for many years to come. Being on a team with Lottie from her first senior appearance in Rotterdam to here, she's not just an outstanding rider but she's an outstanding competitor, we're all incredibly proud of what she has already achieved and what she'll achieve in the future...but yes I was really happy with my job too! Its my mare's first indoor show, she's getting older now but she felt really good so we thought we'd come here for the first time. I was really really proud of her efforts, she did an amazing job and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night."
It was an inter-country battle for third place as German duo Ingrid Klimke and Helen Langenhanenberg finished just a handful of marks apart. The better of the two in the placings this afternoon was multi-talented and multi-discipline star Ingrid, who rode to 75.421% with the elegant Hannoverian stallion Franziskus FRH; the pair are fresh from success in last month’s CDI Stuttgart where they claimed the freestyle ahead of compatriots Isabell Werth and Frederic Wandres. "I really enjoyed the British spirit, friendly people and great atmosphere," Ingrid said, "after winning Stuttgart I thought I'd come to London and try to be as close as I can behind the two [gesturing to Lottie and Gareth]. Maybe I was a little too quiet in the first piaffe passage, tomorrow I will support him more, but he listened and was with me which was good. He really enjoys the show too!"
Leaders at the half time point, Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glocks Dream Boy, laid down a very creditable 73.447% for the field to chase with the score delivering an eventual fifth place. The black KWPN stallion performed a test with much expression and looked a picture under the ExCel lights, an error in the one tempi changes was the only standout hinderance in a well-presented performance.
Elsewhere in the pack, British riders Andrew Gould, Richard Davison and Emile Faurie were in sync for three scores of 69%, whilst Ireland’s Abi Lyle put in a tremendous effort with her World Championship ride Giraldo for 70.395% and seventh.
Whilst the Christmas lights set on a sparkling day one of the London International Horse Show, we can look forward to tomorrow's CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle competition where the line-up vie for those all important points towards World Cup qualification. The competition starts at 19.45, the highlight of the evening session at the equestrian party of the year. Find out more about how to enjoy the season finale using the information button below, including live streaming from our media partners Horse & Country.
Photo © Jon Stroud Media | British Equestrian