Fry’s the one: Glamourdale rocks Herning for World Championships Freestyle Gold
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Lottie Fry and Glamourdale have tonight won a second individual gold medal at the ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning, Denmark. Presenting their brand new “Best of Britain” freestyle, they set the Stutteri Ask Stadium alight with one of the greatest freestyles of all time to score 90.654% and keep the Grand Prix Freestyle World title in British hands.
Lottie and Van Olst Horses' Glamourdale (Lord Leatherdale x Negro) delivered a spine-tingling performance showcasing the KWPN stallion’s power, rhythm and elasticity, set to a brand new music programme by Joost Peters, producer of the famous “Totally Totilas” freestyle for Edward Gal. The sounds of Queen, Robbie Williams, Genesis, The Beatles, The Verve, plus Brian May's rendition of God Save the Queen in the mix, set the backdrop for an awe-inspiring display of dressage excellence by Lottie and her "one in a million".
Drawn third last on the running order, 26-year-old Lottie firmly threw down the gauntlet with the home nation’s Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour partnered by Vamos Amigos, and the Netherlands’ Dinja van Liere with Hermes yet to go. Both challengers stood alongside Lottie on Monday’s Grand Prix Special podium, and both are very capable of hitting the high scores, but Lottie with her nerves of steel and Glamourdale, the true stadium star, rose to the challenge to deliver an unforgettable and winning performance under the floodlights in Herning.
The very apt lyric, “Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?” accompanying a piaffe in the early part of the test set the trend for the whole performance. Power, so much power, yet supremely balanced and measured by Lottie’s incredible riding. The extended canter with Glamourdale’s stratospheric power drew gasps of awe from the crowd, and the way the power shifted directly into canter pirouettes was simply astonishing.
The half passes, extended trot and two-tempis all received marks towards the top end of the scale, with the extended canter awarded a perfect ten by six of the seven judges watching on. The 12,000-strong crowd could barely contain themselves, bursting into spontaneous whoops and cheers from the very start of the programme and giving the British pair a standing ovation after their final halt.
“It’s absolutely incredible, like unbelievable,” said an emotional Lottie afterwards. “I just had the best feeling in there I’ve ever had. I had so much fun, he had so much fun, and we were literally just loving it the whole way round. It’s just a really nice, relaxed feeling and the crowd is seriously amazing.
"Glamourdale went in there and knew what he had to do, and he could feel the atmosphere. If there’s a lot of crowd, he’s going to show off even more – I can just sit there. It felt so easy and he was just bouncing through his music.
“I didn’t dare to imagine this," she said. "I know everything is possible with Glamourdale – he is the best horse in the world - but to be able to show off what he did tonight is amazing. I guess there is more pressure today, but I love the music and he loved the music, and my main thing was I wanted us both to enjoy it. Hopefully, this is just the beginning – it’s his first major championships, and I think the next few years will be really exciting for him. Getting a +90% is something all my idols do, and I didn’t expect to do it.
“As soon as the music started, I could hear the crowd," she continued. "Some were even singing along to it - it was just the most incredible feeling. I picked the lines to show off his incredible extended canter, but there is so much, it took weeks to get a floorplan to fit inside the time because I wanted to do a 10-minute freestyle! And that’s just not possible. It really captured all his amazing points. I’m speechless about the music. We knew we wanted a special British theme and he’s heard these songs at stallion shows before, so he basically picked them out for me. He really danced to it tonight.
“What Glamourdale did was just out of this world."
Lottie Fry and Glamourdale become only the third combination to have ever won double individual Gold at the World Championships – the others being Edward Gal with Totilas in Kentucky 2010 and Charlotte Dujardin with Valegro in Normandy 2014.
The final day of competition for British riders yielded success beyond all expectations. In addition to Lottie and Glamourale’s glorious gold, Gareth Hughes and Classic Briolinca (pictured above) won hearts with a stunning performance to take fifth place, while Charlotte Dujardin showed Imhotep’s vast potential to finish top ten on only the nine-year-old’s third ever international show and his first ever Grand Prix Freestyle.
Sweden’s Therese Nilshagen and Dante Weltino (Danone 4 x Welt Hit II), had set the early standard as the second combination down the centre line putting an assertive 83.046% on the board. Some beautiful performances followed including from Sweden’s Juliette Ramel with Buriel K.H. (80.682%) and Spain’s Alejandro Sánchez del Barco and the charming grey PRE stallion Quincallo de Indalo (78.386%).
The home nation’s Carina Cassøe Krüth with Heiline’s Danciera (Fürstenball OLD x De Niro) couldn’t quite catch the leader but her performance, and that of Patrik Kittel with Touchdown (by Quaterback), kept the strong scores coming. And then came Gareth Hughes with Classic Briolinca. Drawn to go immediately before the halfway break, their freestyle was an immaculate display of partnership and musicality. Riding to an exquisite Madonna compilation, Gareth and the 16-year-old Trento B x Royal Dance mare, who he owns with wife Rebecca, daughter Ruby and Julia Hornig, showed the magic of their partnership at its very best.
With a happy and confident expression on her face, the mare looked at total ease through an intricate collection of movements. Passage half pass into piaffe pirouette at the lightest touch, extended canter into immaculate double pirouettes, all in perfect unison with her rider. The highs marks kept coming for this pirouette queen, and as the ride went on, it became evident we were witnessing something very special. An enthusiastic response from the amazing crowd, followed by a whopping new PB of 84.043% to launch them into the provisional lead, gave a superb conclusion to Gareth’s Herning campaign.
“That’s a pretty special arena. How often do you get to ride in front of that many people? Such an enthusiastic crowd, the size, the scope, it’s amazing – these are dreams,” enthused Gareth.
About his music, produced by music maestro Tom Hunt, Gareth said, “This is a new one. It’s Madonna, and we thought it would suit her. That’s actually the first time I’ve ridden through the whole floor plan. I’ve been watching it on my phone. You always put this music together, but until you ride through it, you don’t really know how it feels, but also doing it at home and then going into an arena like that? It’s really different, but that was a lot of fun and I felt it really suited her.
“I actually was smiling. This is her third competition this year, we’re just building her up. She’s 16 and I want another couple years out of her, so we’re being careful. She’s just come out and she just amazes me.
“She’s got so much heart," said Gareth. "She holds a lot of tension but, now that she’s experienced, I can really feel her when she goes tight. She tries so hard not to make a mistake. In the second piaffe, I heard the crowd and she wobbled a little bit, but she always comes back to me. What makes a Grand Prix horse? A horse that lets you train it to Grand Prix. What makes a good Grand Prix horse? A horse with heart.
“I think I can still be better, but she’s just amazing. She holds herself so well, so we’ll aim for the Euros next year and then Paris.
"It’s really special when you do well as an individual," he continued. "I’ve come here and got better results than I was hoping for – the Grand Prix was great, the Special was great, the Freestyle has been unbelievable. Briolinca has done more than I could have ever dreamed. We also have a great team - the team mates, and Carl [Hester] has come out as well. It makes it all so much more special.”
The new kid on the block, Carl Hester and Coral Ingham’s Imhotep (pictured above), has cut his FEI Championship teeth and gained many fans this past few days in the expert hands of Charlotte Dujardin. Tonight, at only nine years old, this powerhouse son of Everdale looked in his element under floodlights in the vast Stutteri Ask Stadium. This undoubted star of the future moves with suppleness, adjustability and range, and with all the endless energy of his sire.
Passage half pass left into half pass right; half pass left into passage half pass right; moving from collected walk directly into a double canter pirouette – all executed with confidence and elasticity by this exceptional young talent. A score of 83.132% was awarded to put them into provisional fifth, and a top ten place at the conclusion of the class.
“I’m so happy with Pete," beamed Charlotte, winner of this title at Caen in 2014 with the legendary Valegro, a title held until Herning due to Hurricane Florence taking away her opportunity to defend it at Tryon in 2018. "That is the first time I’ve ever done that on him – he’s never done a Grand Prix Freestyle, so to have gone out there tonight and done it with that test, I’m absolutely delighted with him. He’s nine years old, this is his fourth Grand Prix, his first ever Special, and he’s done absolutely amazing this week. I couldn’t have asked any more from him.
“He has taken everything in his stride," she continued. "He’s gone beyond what I thought he could have done here - he’s dealt with the atmosphere and the crowd amazingly. When I go in, they all applaud and he stays very calm. He’s never been in that environment before, so I’m absolutely thrilled with him.
“He’s just got better and better – even just here at this show, he’s felt more and more relaxed. It’s been a great experience here and he’s learned a lot, and this time next year he’s going to be like a different horse.
“He’s an incredibly talented horse," she enthused. "I love the horse to bits and I think he’s going to be a superstar, absolutely."
In tonight’s fantastic showdown of the world’s best dressage combinations, Lottie Fry was joined on the podium by the home nation’s Cathrine Dufour with Sarah Pidgley’s Vamos Amigos (Vitalis x Blue Hors Hotline), who posted a superb 89.411%, and the Netherlands’ Dinja van Liere, who achieved 86.900% with the stallion Hermes (Easy Game x Flemmigh).
British Dressage congratulates Lottie, Charlotte and Gareth on their fantastic successes in Herning this evening. Thank you to the owners and grooms who support these combinations and enable the dressage public to enjoy their performances and make British dressage proud.
Blue Hors FEI World Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle presented by Helgstrand
1. Charlotte Fry and Glamourdale, 90.654% (GBR)
2. Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour and Vamos Amigos, 89.411% (DEN)
3. Dinja van Liere and Hermes, 86.900% (NED)
4. Benjamin Werndl and Famoso OLD, 85.893% (GER)
5. Gareth Hughes and Classic Briolinca, 84.043% (GBR)
6. Adrienne Lyle and Salvino, 83.704% (USA)
7. Patrik Kittel and Touchdown, 83.679% (SWE)
8. Daniel Bachmann Andersen and Marshall-Bell, 83.464% (DEN)
9. Isabell Werth and Quantaz, 83.339% (GER)
10. Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep, 83.132% (GBR)
11. Therese Nilshagen and Dante Weltino OLD, 83.046% (SWE)
12. Carina Cassøe Krüth and Heiline’s Danciera, 82.143% (DEN)
13. Juliette Ramel and Buriel K.H., 80.682% (SWE)
14. Alejandro Sánchez del Barco and Quincallo de Indalo, 78.386% (ESP)
15. Emmelie Scholtens and Indian Rock, 74.589% (NED)
Photo © Kevin Sparrow