Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) riding Imhotep @LondonInternationalHorseShow/Ashley Neuhof
Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep set the ExCeL alight on day two of the London International Horse Show as they took the victory in the FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle to Music presented by Bret Willson Dressage International Ltd supported by Horse & Hound. The International Arena also saw action from the Extreme Driving supported by Karen and Hugh Scott-Barrett and the Yeti Under-25 British Show Jumping Championship.
Meanwhile, in the New Horizon Plastics London Arena, Showing kicked off with highlights coming from the Rising Star of Cob Type Championship, and the Rising Star of Hunter Type Championship. Spectators were also treated to the first of the LeMieux Masterclass series, ‘Dressage Unwrapped’ featuring FEI Eventing World Champion, Yasmin Ingham, Richard Davison, and Gareth and Ruby Hughes.
The pinnacle class of Thursday’s schedule came from the FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle to Music, which saw a packed International Arena wowed by perfect piaffes and exceptional extensions.
Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and the 10-year-old chestnut stallion Imhotep followed up on their Grand Prix victory, and produced a breathtakingly beautiful performance to the sheer delight of the home crowd to take the win with a score of 89.465%.
It was once again a British top three, with double FEI World Championship gold medallist Lottie Fry claiming the runner-up spot. Fry, who was last to go in the competition with the stunning black stallion Everdale took to the arena with a brand-new Freestyle routine that featured numerous highlights including their phenomenal final line. It was a father-son one-two, with the success of Everdale, the sire of Charlotte’s Imhotep, proving the strength of this bloodline.
Third place went to Becky Moody and her homebred Jagerbomb with a score of 83.675%. The combination was not only making their debut at the Show, but also in the FEI World Cup Qualifier Series. The highest placed international rider was Denise Nekeman, who scored a personal best of 77.035% to claim the fourth spot.
Speaking on her win, Dujardin stated: “This was Imhotep’s first indoor show, and it was a full house tonight; you could hear the crowd in the warm-up, which was really incredible. I was so proud of him; he has never been in that kind of atmosphere before, and so it was a great learning experience for him. Even though he was nervous, he was still with me, which is all I can ask for. He is still a young horse and has so much more to give. I am very excited for what is to come next year!”
Third placed Moody continued: “You dream about riding at this Show. It is somewhere that we all aspire to compete at. I was incredibly nervous in the buildup, and my horse is a legend. Being on the podium with Lottie Fry and Charlotte Dujardin is amazing. They both inspire me on a daily basis. They are incredible role models, and it is incredible being sat next to them. But I do have every intention of beating them in the future!”
THE STARS OF THE FUTURE
24 British pairings faced the challenging 1.45m course in the Yeti Under 25 British Show Jumping Championship. The difficulty of the course became evident as the initial three combinations encountered issues with early faults. The fourth participant, Oliver Fletcher, son of Tina Fletcher – one of Britain’s leading female riders of recent decades – rode Hello William, owned by Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham, securing the first flawless performance of the competition. The second faultless round was delivered by Alexander McLean and Gino F, who wisely steadied their stride in the triple combination towards the finish, a section that posed challenges for many. The third clear round came from the winner of the 2023 Ella Popely Award, the Shane Breen-trained Lauren Caroline, riding Gait L.
By halfway – after Nicole Lockhead Anderson, with the small but mighty chestnut stallion I Am a Harley, and Jennifer Billington, with Flipper Darco Uk Z, both jumped clear rounds – it meant only those with a faultless first round score would progress to the jump-off. To take the total number of second-round contenders to eight, there were three more clears from Jessica Hewlett, followed by London International Horse Show Ambassador and the Show’s 2022 leading rider, Jodie Hall McAteer, as well as Antonia Platt and Marvin van de Waterhoeve – 2023’s Royal Windsor Horse Show Under 25 Grand Prix winners.
The eight-fence jump-off had the audience gripped to their seats, with the young riders giving their all to win. The number of strides between the penultimate and last fence proved to be the differentiating factor in overall time. Jennifer Billington and Flipper Darco Uk Z led from the outset, being the only clear with the next to follow all having four faults – often, including the likes of Oliver Fletcher, heartbreakingly at the last fence. The only other clear round came from Scotsman Alexander McLean and the meticulously careful Gino F, who, building on their intelligently crafted first round, jumped fence one on an angle, taking out one stride to the second fence, resulting in them becoming champions.
Speaking on his win, McLean said: “I am over the Moon. I didn’t think we were going to be anywhere near fast enough, but we battled hard and performed under the pressure. I’m so proud of Gino; he has done so much for me over the last two years and is the horse of a lifetime. The atmosphere at the London International Horse Show is fantastic; it’s my second time competing here and I love this show – it’s one of the best shows in Britain by far, with a great Christmas feel to it.”
STUNNING SHOWING TO START THE NEW SERIES IN THE NEW HORIZON PLASTICS LONDON ARENA
Written by Nicola Jane Swinney
It is appropriate that the Showing programme for the London International Horse Show began with the Rising Stars sections — looking forward to the New Year with some names to watch.
Sections include Hunters and Cobs, and there was plenty to like. Sarah Moreland, who won the opening class for Small and Lightweight Hunter Types, was quite overcome, kissing her beloved horse before pulling herself together to comment, admitting she was “quite emotional.”
Coulthard, a bay gelding bred in Aberdeenshire, means everything to Sarah, not least because when buying him four years ago, she had to choose between him and a car.
“He is incredible,” she said. “He does everything. He also jumps so we are doing the Working Hunter class on Saturday.”
The judges, Robert Walker and Jenny Banks, clearly agreed with Sarah’s opinion of her splendid horse, awarding him the Rising Stars Hunter Type Championship over the Middleweight and Heavyweight winner, Eleanor Liddle riding Val Doidge’s Cu Chulainn Carrabawn Rebel. A former hunt horse, Bruce — which is much easier to say — has taken to showing with aplomb, although he hasn’t always been easy. Hunt horses are not used to standing still!
Relishing the atmosphere at the London venue, Carly Chapman and Frazer Foxes Covert headed the Rising Stars Heavyweight Cob class and claimed the Championship.
“It was a fantastic experience; the ring is absolutely great and he gave me a great spin in the go-round, so I’m really delighted,” said Carly. She was enthusiastic about the new venue at the ExCel, the New Horizon Plastics London Arena, saying the atmosphere was “really buzzy.”
The Maxi Cob class and reserve went to Alex George and his six-year-old Paulines Boy, who, he says, “has done very well for a young horse, very well behaved. He’s a good boy.”
The electric atmosphere at this centre is appreciated by riders, horses, and the public alike, and the showing classes over the next few days look set to end 2023 on a high note.
More information about The London International Horse Show can be found at www.londonhorseshow.com.
For more information, please contact: Niki McEwen / rEvolution / firstname.lastname@example.org