British Dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin celebrated at the weekend (20-23 January) after winning on her grand prix debut. The 26-year-old scored 74.61% at Addington Manor EC, riding nine-year-old Valegro (by Negro x Gershwin) in his first grand prix as well. Charlotte recorded three 10s and beat a class of 27, including her mentor and trainer Carl Hester. Valegro is jointly owned by Carl Hester and Roly Luard, and Hester finished in a close second with 74.25% on Charlotte's own horse Fernandez. “Charlotte is so dedicated and has an amazing feel for grand prix,” said Carl. “I don't think anyone else in the world has gone out and scored 74% in their first Grand Prix. She is such an exciting prospect! And Valegro is one of the most exciting horses of the future, he is so fantastic. He is still green at this level and on the last centre line you could see his tiredness. But remember he is only nine.”
Charlotte described it as ‘amazing’. “It wasn't as scary as I thought, there were some good bits and I had Carl's voice in my head as I was doing the pirouettes,” she said. “When I did the one-time changes, I just thought 'Yes!'. I wasn't expecting a score like that I just wanted to get round and give him confidence.”
British Dressage spokesman Claire Shand added: “It's a remarkable score for a first Grand Prix and bodes very well for the future. Valegro was a talented youngster and it's great to see him making his mark at this level. Having another young Grand Prix combination achieving these scores is great news for GB and the timing couldn't be better with 2012 around the corner.”
Third place went to Nikki Crisp and Pasoa on 72.42% — the pair's highest ever mark.
(Source: Horse and Hound)