Windsor delight for Dujardin
- Written By:
With last night’s torrential rain making way for sunshine, it was back to the idyllic setting in the shadow of Windsor Castle for the final leg of the CDI4* at Royal Windsor Horse Show, the Al Shira’aa Freestyle. Earlier in the day news filtered through that last night’s runners up Carl Hester and his own and Jane de la Mare’s Nip Tuck had withdrawn when ‘Barney’ injured himself in the stable overnight which opened the field up somewhat.
Charlotte impressed many last night with her catch ride on Sonnar Murray-Brown’s Erlentanz, who she's riding while Sonnar recovers from a badly broken leg, but tonight the duo took it to a whole new level in only their second Freestyle outing together. Electing to ride to her floor plan set to music from Disney’s film ‘How to train your dragon’ which suits the horse almost as much as Valegro, Charlotte rode a masterful test and ‘Early’ grew in confidence with each moment.
There was one sticky moment when she asked for the first double canter pirouette on the centre line bang in front of the H, C and M judges and as she set up and started, the horse just appeared to die on her, losing canter and into walk. She recovered well but it would prove very costly if it couldn’t be rectified later in the test. But Charlotte is the master of Freestyle and she managed to fit one in at the end of the test which the judges clearly agreed with. A near-capacity crowd rewarded what they’d seen with rapturous applause and even more so when 81.9% flashed up.
Afterwards, Charlotte admitted; “I think I had him too close to the board and as I set him up for the pirouette and he just dropped me! I was like ‘GO!’ but it was too late and I had to pick him up and start again. I then kept thinking where I could fit it in and then I couldn’t remember what let it was so it was a proper freestyle. [Judge] Katrina Wuest said to me in the prize giving that she gave me a two for the first one and a nine for the second so it would have been very expensive had I not re done it!”
On the test itself she explained; “It’s only our second Freestyle and I’ve only really been riding him for about four months so it’s all still very new. He tries so hard but he lacks self-confidence and I have to give it to him, almost say ‘you can do it’. You can’t suffocate him and he’s got to find his confidence; he hasn’t got that instant ‘go’ button like my others.
“He’s a different horse now to Keysoe as he’s so much stronger. The lovely thing is he has the temperament to do it and he’s talented at all the thing which earn high marks. He’s the horse that everyone would like to own and is just like a giant teddy bear.
“It’s such a pleasure to ride him and I don’t feel the pressure. Plus, I’m enjoying putting my experience into the horse to help Sonnar in the future.”
Owner Sonnar was on hand to watch his boy compete and he reported that he’s just come off his crutches and the next step is to have some of the smaller screws put in to mend the broken tibula and fibula out. Once that’s done, his rehabilitation can start in earnest and then get back in the saddle.
Second place went to Briton Richard Davison with his own and Gwendolyn Meyer’s Bubblingh with 78.31%. Richard has managed his home bred hope carefully to build confidence and has been active on the FEI World Cup circuit as a ‘baptism of fire’ for competition experience. Tonight that certainly seemed to have paid off with the Lingh sired 13 year old looking much better after a further year at Grand Prix level under his belt. His ‘Gangsters Paradise’ inspired music isn’t to everyone’s taste but it certainly had the crowd captivated. There were a number of highlights including a piaffe pirouette bang on the lively beat and the tightest canter pirouettes of any combination on the night.
Richard told us; “I’m really pleased. When we arrived on Wednesday he was very fresh and I’d wondered if my plan had worked but he really settled. It’s the little things now like last night after the test when I walked out of the arena I could drop my rein and he happily walked out of the arena. One judge said they’d given me a ten so something must have been right!”
The pair are off to Compiegne next week as part of Team GBR’s Nations Cup quartet.
Third went to Irish combination and last to go Heike Holstein and her home bred ten year old talent Sambuca with 74.91%. They didn’t get off to the best start with a canter in their first extended trot but once that mistake was behind them, the mare seemed to take a breath and focus on the task in only their second Freestyle appearance in eight months at the level.
“I’m thrilled!” she exclaimed afterwards. “She was very nervous at the start. Last night she got a bit of a fright, I think it was the rain on the judges’ huts but once she settled it was really lovely.”
Fourth was Louise Bell and the delectable Into the Blue; their lively country music routine was mistake free but for one trot stride going into a canter pirouette for 73.34%. The remaining British rider, Vicky Thompson Winfield with Sam Francis’s Mango Jacaro finished sixth on 68.55% with their entertaining James Bond medley.
Once again it was a delight for dressage to be a part of The Royal Windsor Horse Show and we’re grateful to Al Shira’aa for their support of the CDI. Thanks to the team at Horsepower for an excellent show.