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Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep's Week at Windsor
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Posted by Mary Phelps
ROYAL WINDSOR HORSE SHOW
Charlotte Dujardin continued her 2023 Royal Windsor Horse Show dominance, claiming victory in The Defender CDI4* FEI Dressage Freestyle to add to yesterday's Grand Prix win. In doing so, she repeats her dual triumph from 2019 – the last time international Dressage was held at the Show.
A Great Day of Music in The Shadow of the Castle
Kathleen Kröncke took an early lead as third to go. With music that suited her horse perfectly, Kröncke received excellent artistic scores of over 80% to contribute to an overall mark of 76.365%. Laura Tomlinson riding Fallatijn, a horse she has produced since 2016, was second behind Kröncke going into the half time break. However with several strong combinations to come the leaderboard was by no means secure.
Louise Anne Bell was the first to enter the arena after the break, excelling in her piaffe and passage to go into third with a score of 72.590%. Showing no evidence of her recent break from competition, Charlotte Dujardin set the Castle Arena alight with an athletic and fluid performance aboard her 10-year-old gelding, Imhotep. Dujardin’s impressive test was the first to break the 80% barrier, receiving a score of 83.200% and setting the standard for those to come.
On his debut at Royal Windsor Horse Show, Lewis Carrier put in an impressive performance to go into second place with a score of 77.405%. Carrier, who has already experienced success in the Under-25 ranks, cemented his status amongst the best up-and-coming talent in the country aboard Diego V.
Saving the Best For Last
As last to go, Dujardin’s 2022 FEI World Championship teammate Gareth Hughes looked to put her lead in jeopardy with the experienced Classic Briolinca. However his score of 80.510 was only enough for eventual second, pushing Carrier back to third.
Dujardin said: “I was so excited to come here, it was really not in my schedule to rush back after having my daughter, but I got on and felt really good. I absolutely love this show, so here I am! I was so excited to be here, back out here riding and competing, for me it’s just such a buzz and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
A Huge Ask
Of Imhotep, she continued: “He hasn’t competed since the World Equestrian Games last year, so it was a huge ask for him to come here as it’s such a huge atmosphere! I’m a bit ring rusty, he’s a bit ring-rusty, we’re still making mistakes, but he’s such an incredible horse to come to this kind of show and perform the way he has the past two days, I can’t ask for more. To get this under our belt is absolutely fantastic.”
Royal Windsor Horse Show Debutante, Carrier, added: “The atmosphere here is incredible – Diego V really rose to the occasion; he didn’t put a foot wrong even though he was so fresh. It is only the third time I have ridden through the test and my first time in a competitive environment. I wish there were more shows like Royal Windsor in the UK – the crowds have been unbelievable and right behind me from the start. I had a tear in my eye halfway through my test, and my final halt was the perfect way to finish.”
Grand Prix Dressage at The Royal Windsor Horse Show 2023
Twelve combinations contested The Defender CDI4* FEI Dressage Grand Prix, including three of the four British FEI World Championship squad who claimed team silver in Herning last summer, and a strong British contingent ensured great excitement for the home crowd.
Lewis Carrier Impressive
A fantastic first test from Royal Windsor debutant Lewis Carrier scored an impressive 70.435% with Diego V to keep him well up the ranking and secure eventual fourth place. The Wiltshire-based 26-year-old, who currently trains with Carl Hester, rode a KWPN warmblood he has produced himself from a four-year-old. Following him into the ring, Louise Anne Bell and Into The Blue couldn’t quite match Carrier’s score to finish on 68.761%.
Dujardin Does it Again
Third to go, Charlotte Dujardin, formed an early lead with 77.261%. The joint-most decorated British female Olympian pulled off a reliably stylish test aboard Coral Ingham and Carl Hester’s striking gelding, Imhotep. The ride – Dujardin’s debut return to international competition following the birth of her daughter, Isabella, in March this year – proved a textbook performance, with the expressive chestnut producing beautifully elastic work to wow the crowd in the famous Castle Arena.Her FEI World Championship teammate, Gareth Hughes, was next up with Classic Briolinca. The 17-year-old mare by Trento B, who has been such a stalwart of the British dressage scene, impressed the judges with highlights in the passage and piaffe, but could not quite match the impressive score laid down by Dujardin.
British based German rider, Kathleen Kröncke, with the 16-year-old San Royal 3, were the last combination to enter the ring before the break. The pair who triumphed in the 2022 British Dressage Championships – where they won the Grand Prix title – could not quite repeat their success and went into provisional fifth with 68.043%.
Charlotte’s lead was unrivaled as the second session progressed. First in after the break, Ireland’s Abigail Lyle who rode Farrell scored 68.413% to move ahead of Kröncke by a fraction of a mark. However, the rest of the field’s chances faded when Britain’s Emile Faurie came to the fore with the stunning mare Bellevue, producing an accurate and pleasing test in the afternoon sunlight to slot in behind Dujardin and Hughes in third place with 71.826%.
Windsor Childhood Memories and Now a Mom Herself
On her return to top level competition Dujardin stated: “I haven’t competed for 8 months, and Pete [Imhotep] hasn’t done a competition since the FEI World Championships. I have only been back riding for 3 weeks – so I was worried I would be a bit ring rusty – but he was incredible and was so positive with his energy. There are still areas that we can improve on which is exciting – we are now aiming for the FEI European Championships this summer.”
Dujardin continued: “I have such amazing memories of Royal Windsor Horse Show having competed here in the Showing as a child – it has such a wonderful atmosphere and to be back here is just so special. It is now Isabella’s time to support Mummy and I hope I have done her proud.”
Royal Windsor Horse Show 2023
Royal Windsor Horse Show 2023 got underway today with The Defender CDI4* FEI Dressage Grand Prix, the standalone class for the first day of the Show’s 80th year. Returning after a three-year hiatus, the Defender Dressage opens five days of top-class international equestrian sport held in the private grounds of Windsor Castle, and ensures this prestigious venue is the only show in the UK to host international competitions in Show Jumping, Dressage, Driving and Endurance.